20 May ~ This Saturday will see the majority of football supporters up and down the country switch their allegiances for an afternoon, as they get behind one of the finalists in the Championship play-off final between Blackpool and Cardiff City. Having been hotly tipped to face the drop at the beginning of the season, Ian Holloway's side have pulled off a minor miracle on a much smaller budget than most of their competitors in the league, with chairman Karl Oyston producing a masterstroke in convincing Holloway to join the club.

The club record signing of captain Charlie Adam for £500,000 has proved to be one of the best bits of business this season, and the former QPR boss has also displayed his ability by getting the best out of on-loan forward DJ Campbell, whose career had appeared to come to a standstill after falling out of favour at Leicester City. Having witnessed Blackpool's 1-1 draw with my team, QPR, at Loftus Road at the beginning of the season, I remember coming away thinking we had just dropped two points against what was, bar Adam, a rather underwhelming group of players. How wrong I was. Throwing large sums of money at your squad does not always buy success.

But Blackpool fans beware. Cardiff's £5 million striker Michael Chopra warned this week that he has proved in the past that he can perform on the big stage – albeit a while ago – citing his winner for England Under-16s in the 2-1 win over Argentina Under-16s at Wembley back in 1999. Ryan Forrester

Comments (10)
Comment by garyjthompson 2010-05-20 16:04:57

Chopra the man for the big occasion? If he can manage not to trip over his own feet in the penalty area for 5 minutes. He's had two bites of the cherry in the Prem during which he proved, without doubt, that he is an excellent Championship player.

Comment by el gato negro 2010-05-20 16:55:21

He wasn't cut out for the big occasion when playing for Sunderland at St James' Park either, contriving (?) to screw up an excellent chance late in the game. Come on Blackpool.

Comment by ipswichfan 2010-05-20 17:48:20

Give Holloway credit for signing Seamus Coleman on loan from Everton. The young right back had a really impressive debut for Everton this year and I presume has continued that good work with Blackpool, since he's now signed a 4-year contract.

Comment by Seeing Red 2010-05-20 18:06:36

As a Barnsley fan, I'm all for Cardiff winning at Wembley, since it means I don't have to make the trek to Wales next season. Besides, Blackpool is a cracking away game, at least for those lucky ones for whom it drops on a summer weekend. Not so much on a cold night in January.

Comment by Liffrok 2010-05-20 20:10:49

As a Plymouth Argyle fan I never thought I'd say this, but I want Holloway's side to win. A win for Cardiff, after their ridiculous contempt of basic financial good management, would be utterly soul-destroying. Sheffield Wednesday got relegated trying to pay their debt off; Cardiff look like they're going to get promoted by ignoring it.

Comment by Harry Truscott 2010-05-20 20:47:47

For the Plymouth supporter above, let's talk about "basic financial good management". From David Conn in the Guardian last month;

"Argyle's accounts, recently published for the year ended 31 May 2009, revealed that the club spent 87% of their £8.6m turnover on a £7.5m wage bill. The three Plymouth-based directors and Kagami had loaned a total of £1.4m, with Kagami's £256,000 significantly lower than the £775,000 stumped up by a local businessman, Tony Wrathall.

Despite that overspending, Argyle finished 21st last season.

The winding-up petition issued against the club in January was, Gardner said: "An unfortunate issue, a short-term funding issue which can affect all clubs." Argyle paid the debt owed to HMRC and Wrathall is said to have loaned further money, although Gardner declined to confirm that. He and Todd lent money too, in December; he declined to say how much that was for."

Oh, I presume your contention that endebted clubs shouldn't get promoted also applys to Newcastle?

Comment by Lincoln 2010-05-21 11:20:32

"let's talk about "basic financial good management"." Let's not. I am probably on my own but I am tired of the Championship play off final being branded the 'richest game in football'. I yearn for days when people we talk about how great it will be for Blackpool/Cardiff to play at Man Utd and soak up the atmosphere, rather than saying they stand to make £100m and money makes everything great.

Comment by English Republic 2010-05-21 11:32:01

After the aborted relocation of Wimbledon to Dublin and the endless whining of Celtic/Rangers to be allowed to play in this country we could have a foreign team playing top flight football in England by Saturday evening. It is bad enough having teams like Swansea, Merthyr and Wrexham keeping English clubs out of their respective leagues but the fact that they work under a different set of rules and have their disciplinery matters dealt with by their own FA (who shamefully overturned a ban on a Cardiff player to enable him to play in the (English) FA cup final) makes their presence in our game inappropriate at the very least. Having a Welsh club playing at the top level of English football would be beyond the pale given that they could then also potentially represent England in European competition.

Comment by Dalef65 2010-05-22 12:43:57

In a funny way the Championship Play-off final seems to be taking the position of what the FA cup Final used to represent in the hearts of neutral football fans up and down the country...
This could be because the FA cup final is becoming more and more just another game at wembley for the big 4(or whatever it is these days)and for the rest of us we look to the Championship Play-off final to restore that sense of how Cup-Final Day used to be...........

Comment by Dalef65 2010-05-22 12:45:38

Oh i forgot to add,hopefully next year it will be on live terrestial TV

Related articles

Neil Warnock proving budget cuts no barrier to ambition as he inspires Cardiff
Embed from Getty Images // Ahead of their derby clash with Bristol City, Cardiff find themselves in an unlikely automatic promotion race in what...
Remembering Robin Friday – the Reading and Cardiff maverick ahead of his time
With the two clubs meeting on Monday evening it’s worth looking back at a cult figure who was the the patron saint of bad-boy, and is the...
On The Brink: A journey through English football’s north west by Simon Hughes
DeCoubertin Books, £16.99Reviewed by Charles MorrisFrom WSC 370, December 2017Buy the book The north-west has always been at the heart of...