Pardew says failure will mean new money crisis

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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew, the West Ham United manager, has admitted that his side could face financial disaster if they are not promoted to the Premiership.

Alan Pardew, the West Ham United manager, has admitted that his side could face financial disaster if they are not promoted to the Premiership.

The Hammers, who were relegated last summer with debts in excess of £40m despite selling their most talented players, are 1-0 down in their play-off semi-final tie with Ipswich as they look to make an immediate return to the top flight.

"The agenda I'll have facing me if we don't get promoted will be unpleasant," Pardew said. "Our financial situation would put pressure on me to manoeuvre my squad. If we stay in the First Division we have to make sure we don't get ourselves into a further mess.

"Whenever you are a manager you need to win certain games sometimes to keep your job. It is not on that scale but, in terms of the importance to the club and the career I have had in football, [tonight's play-off semi-final second leg] is the biggest game of my career."

Rebel shareholders are seeking to overthrow the club chairman, Terence Brown, amid claims of serious financial mismanagement, which have been strenuously denied by the club. But missing out on the estimated £20m windfall that comes with promotion may mean that Michael Carrick will have to be sold in the same way that Joe Cole, David James, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe were after relegation last year.

Darren Bent's goal gave Ipswich the advantage at Portman Road but Pardew is optimistic that a sell-out crowd at Upton Park will help propel West Ham into the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

"Even ardent West Ham fans will say that the frustrations of this season have got the better of us all," he said. "Even I've been booing on the sidelines at times. It is emotional, and city living can be like that. Some may get road rage trying to fight through the traffic. It's not a place where you can have a nice stroll through the park before the game. You have to fight the Underground, fight the traffic. People are emotional and they are passionate. No passion means it is not a big club.

"I'm hoping to do justice to the memory of players who have played on that surface down the years. I've asked fans to wear the claret and blue, and put in place things to help, but the bottom line is the players. It will be a magical evening."

The Ipswich captain, Jim Magilton, said: "We carried a threat and deserved a goal but we're cautious and know what will come at us on Tuesday night. We're only halfway there."

Ipswich's experienced defender John McGreal is their only doubt. He suffered a calf strain on Saturday and was unable to train yesterday. However, he will travel to London and undergo a late fitness test.

The Ipswich manager, Joe Royle, has added the striker Alun Armstrong to his squad in case Richard Naylor has to assume a defensive role, should McGreal fail his fitness test.

Rufus Brevett is set to return to the West Ham squad after nine months out of action with a foot injury. The full-back has played only three times this season but has regained his fitness playing in the reserves.

However, Don Hutchison is struggling to be fit after missing the play-off first leg with a calf injury. Tomas Repka replaced Anton Ferdinand in defence for the first leg and is set to keep his place.