Ridsdale seeks £90m vindication for gamble that hastened his Cardiff exit
Saturday 22 May 2010
Win or lose at Wembley today, at least some Cardiff City supporters can console themselves that finally they will have seen the back of the club's controversial chairman Peter Ridsdale.
A large proportion of the City fans cannot forgive Ridsdale, who will quit as Cardiff chairman next week, for playing fast and loose with the club's finances. The former Leeds chairman has flirted with disaster, trying to build a promotion-winning side while, at the same time, the Bluebirds have fought off four winding-up orders.
Victory over Blackpool today will go some way to vindicating his ambitious policy, but Ridsdale has claimed his reign is a "success" even if Cardiff lose today and miss out on the £90m that comes with Premier League status.
His argument is that since he became chairman in October 2006 Cardiff are no longer battling just to stay afloat in the Championship – they have a wonderful £48m stadium and new investment has been found in the form of Malaysian property millionaire Dato Chan Tien Ghee, who is to replace Ridsdale.
"When I arrived it was £35m in debt, losing £10m a year and the stadium scheme was dead in the water," Ridsdale said. The club's debts are now around £15m.
Many supporters will not agree. They believe his strategy is too risky, and they cannot forgive him for enticing 10,000 fans to renew their season tickets in January with the promise the club could buy new players, only to later admit the cash had to be spent on settling debts.
They fear, probably rightly, that should they fail to reach the Premier League their biggest assets, such as manager Dave Jones and strikers Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra, will be on their way in the summer.
Win, however, and it will all have been worth it. Cardiff, who have been outside the top flight since 1962, go into the match as favourites, having finished six points above Blackpool in the regular season. The club's top scorer Peter Whittingham is set to play, having recovered from a groin strain.
While winning the final represents certain financial security for Cardiff, it would also mean the world for Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, two years after he was sacked by Leicester following relegation to League One.
Holloway said: "We got relegated and I got dumped on my backside and had no job for a year. It's times like that when you have to look at your own part in what happened and take responsibility for it.
"But we judge managers too early in this country," he added. "If you looked at Sir Alex Ferguson after his first four years at Manchester United, would you have said he was any good? Now he's probably the best manager that has ever been.
"I look at Fergie and Arsène Wenger, and would I like the chance to do their jobs? Of course I would. Am I ready? I don't think so. But I'm learning all the time and I really appreciate the experiences I've had in my life so far."
Blackpool have no new injury concerns and are expected to name an unchanged line-up for the sixth consecutive match.
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