Blackpool relegation would be 'end of the world' says Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway will find no solace in defeat should Blackpool lose their fight for survival at Old Trafford on Sunday.

When the Tangerines were being tipped to be relegated from the Championship at the start of last season, the idea they would be facing Manchester United at the end of this one seemed preposterous.

Even last summer, when the Tangerines were preparing for their first top-flight campaign in three decades, few gave them any hope of travelling to United with their Premier League future still to be decided.

With by far the smallest playing budget of the 20 clubs, and the lowest average gate, Holloway has performed a minor miracle to reach this stage.

However, telling the charismatic Bristolian what a good job he has done will not ease the pain should Sunday teatime bring a return ticket to the Championship.

"It will be the end of the world," he said.

"It will definitely feel like that. You can't be a football manager, or a player, or have anything to do with a club and be happy if you go down.

"All you can do is let the dust settle and go on."

Holloway made a pledge when Blackpool gained promotion by beating Cardiff in a Wembley play-off he regards as secondary to the task now facing his team.

Tempting as it would be to smash a pay structure that had been strictly adhered to by chairman Karl Oyston, the pair knew it was no way to run Blackpool's finances.

So, should they fall, the Tangerines will do so knowing the financial disasters that have affected so many other Premier League clubs who find their status cruelly stripped away will not be creeping up on them.

"We have been very clever with our budget," said Holloway.

"We have contracts to protect the club that other clubs don't. More fool them.

"There is no danger of not being in existence. We will not go out of business.

"What I will have are some very tough business decisions to make because we might lose this group of players.

"I can't do much about that. We are not in the same ball park as some of these other teams and what they can pay. That is just the way it is."

Always ready with a quip, one senses Holloway's claim earlier this week that the Premier League would like to see the back of him was made for the benefit of his own players, as a galvanising tool.

Behind the scenes, nothing is being left to chance.

Sir Alex Ferguson has already agreed to a request for Blackpool to visit Old Trafford tomorrow to get a feel for the environment they will be asked to fight for their futures in.

That, nor a succession of kind words delivered throughout the season, should not be interpreted as a sign Ferguson is merely going to step aside to let Blackpool win.

In fact, with out-of-form Birmingham facing an equally tough trip to Tottenham and Wigan gearing up to combat an aerial bombardment at Stoke, having failed miserably to cope with similar tactics from West Ham last weekend before their jaw-dropping comeback, calculators might be required to cope with a scenario when any of the three teams locked on the same number of points could win and go down, or lose and stay up.

"One of my analysts was looking at the table the other day. I said 'Good God. What are you doing? You are going to go mental'.

"My dad was an amateur player. He would say 'our name is on the cup'. Sometimes it is.

"This weekend, we have to do something no-one else has managed this season. Beat the champions on their own ground.

"I take great motivation from the way we played against them earlier this season. For 70 minutes we were absolutely magnificent. Then they brought on Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez and we ran out of steam.

"It scares me just saying that.

"But this is an opportunity for us to achieve the best thing we could ever have dreamed of. Keeping a club like ours at this level."

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