Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Saturday, 22 May 2010 13:09 UK

Blackpool gripped by play-off final fever

Supoprters began leaving Bloomfield Road early on Saturday

More than 35,000 Blackpool fans - about a quarter of the resort's population - descended on Wembley for the biggest match in the club's history.

The Seasiders are taking on Cardiff for a place in the Premier League and the estimated £90m it can generate.

Fifty coaches packed with fans left Bloomfield Road early on Saturday morning ahead of the match.

One departing fan told the BBC: "It's better than my wedding day... it's going to be awesome."

Thousands more fans are expected to watch the match on television back in the resort, with many bars and pubs decked out in the club's tangerine colours.

Blackpool FC last played top-flight football in 1971 and manager Ian Holloway said promotion would be "life changing" for the resort.

This has been a monumental effort which is a complete headache - it's worse than doing your wedding
Ian Holloway, Blackpool manager

While supporters are dreaming of the visits of teams such as Chelsea and Manchester United, town officials are eager to welcome their supporters.

Mandy Tythe-McCallum, of Visit Blackpool, said: "It's a perfect time for Blackpool with the regeneration that's taken place.

"Businesses are really looking forward to the new business that can come in on the back of this.

"If they [fans] come for matches during the weekend, if they come to a place like Blackpool they will stay over and see how the town is improving."

Promotion would mark the culmination of a spectacular first season for manager Ian Holloway, who said the final had proved a logistical nightmare.

"This has been a monumental effort which is a complete headache, it's worse than doing your wedding," he told the BBC.

"It is worse than organising your wedding because everybody all of a sudden thinks what's happening and what about me?

"Most important thing is you've organised it [so] the people you care about in your life will be there on your biggest day ever and hopefully whatever happens they'll share that moment with you."

The match kicks off at Wembley at 1500 BST.



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SEE ALSO
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Final fever grips Blackpool fans
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