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Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 06:52 UK

Cardiff saviours

By Peter Shuttleworth

Boss Dave Jones and chairman Peter Ridsdale
Jones and Ridsdale have driven Cardiff's transformation

For Dave Jones and Peter Ridsdale, Wembley Way will double as their road to footballing redemption.

Both manager Jones and chairman Ridsdale landed in South Wales with damaged reputations.

But Saturday's FA Cup final is the perfect stage for Cardiff City's managerial double act to complete their rehabilitation at a club that, too, needed therapy.

Looking back, their arrival at Cardiff was a match made in heaven as the Bluebirds needed them as much as the men in crisis needed the club.

But all the blood, sweat and tears since starting work at the Championship outfit will all seem worth it when Cardiff grace the famous Wembley turf against Portsmouth on Saturday.

But the unexpected FA Cup final gift is arguably not the greatest development at Ninian Park in a season where the cash-strapped club, still 31m in debt, were saved from the brink of oblivion by a High Court judge after a lengthy and costly legal battle.

Tangibly the team now benefit from a state-of-the-art training facility worthy of the top flight, while their new 30m, 25,000-capacity stadium is taking shape across the road from the outdated Ninian Park.

Cardiff's new 21st Century surroundings will not only attract new signings but lucrative corporate clients that the club predict can bank them an extra 5m per year.

"Pete has transformed the club from having next to nothing to having a very bright future," Jones told BBC Sport.

Peter Ridsdale and Cardiff City stadium building site
When Peter and I leave Cardiff City the club will have solid foundations for sustainable success - that's not a bad legacy

Cardiff manager Dave Jones

That is no crumb of comfort to Leeds supporters as Ridsdale was the man accused by many as the main protagonist in the downfall of the Elland Road giants.

Leeds' free-spending policy during Ridsdale's reign backfired with devastating effect as financial meltdown followed their relegation from the Premier League.

His history caused many cynics to believe Ridsdale replacing previous controversial chief Sam Hammam was akin to Dracula taking over at the bloodbank - but Cardiff have thus far been rewarded for his resilience as he has rescued the club.

"He spent 100m at Leeds to win trophies and the fact they didn't, is that his fault?" stated Jones.

"He did his part but his players, coaches and managers didn't deliver the goods. They qualified for the European Cup semi-final and would Leeds fans have changed it? I doubt it.

"We all make mistakes and now at Cardiff, Peter is putting his previous mistakes to good use by not doing them again.

"For instance, he wouldn't put us into financial trouble by spending money the club didn't have. I felt at the start of the season and at Christmas, if we bought some new players we would have had a good push at promotion but he stood firm.

"It makes my job harder, I wish he was still the way he was at Leeds! But hopefully his stance will pay dividends for Cardiff in the future.

"Everyone has an opinion in football but when you're running the show you have to stand and fall by your decisions. Peter fell by some of his but I don't think any Cardiff supporter can complain about the job he is trying to do here.

"When I arrived, no-one was interested in us. It was about sell, sell, sell to survive but now businessmen are making noises about investing in the club. That shows you how far this club has come under Peter."

Jones, himself, has worked miracles on a shoestring budget at Cardiff where the boss has been forced to sell his crown jewels for big bucks to keep the club afloat.

While Jones' managerial abilities have never been questioned, he also had to show determination and bravery to recover from the personal torture of child abuse allegations being brought against him in 1999 - unsubstantiated claims that were thrown out of court.

606: DEBATE

"Dave's character, history and what he went through persuaded us that he was the right manager for Cardiff City," revealed Ridsdale.

"I went through a torrid time when I left Leeds but nothing like Dave went through.

"As a club we respect what he went through but Dave is a decent, honest man who had proved his managerial credentials time and again.

"I've always said that the bad days are sent to tell you how good the good days are.

"Both Dave and I have had a fair share of bad days over the last few days and we're going to savour the good day of an FA Cup final at Wembley."

A repeat of Cardiff City's 1927 FA Cup triumph would create a new set of immortals and as Ridsdale points out: "Getting to the FA Cup final has highlighted to many the good things that are happening here in Cardiff."

Jones sums it perfectly: "The FA Cup final will be extra special and will market the club around the world but it is just one day.

"Thanks to the hard work off the pitch, when Peter and I leave Cardiff City the club will at last have solid foundations for sustainable long-term growth and success - and that is not a bad legacy ."

While they were sceptical at first, Cardiff City fans won't mind benefiting from the duo's quest for footballing vindication.


see also
Fowler set for FA Cup final place
12 May 08 |  Cardiff City
Ledley hails brilliant Cup chance
08 May 08 |  Cardiff City
Hasselbaink eyes new Cardiff deal
12 May 08 |  Cardiff City
Ridsdale to fulfil Hammam 'dream'
23 Oct 06 |  Cardiff City
Cardiff takeover ends Hammam era
15 Jan 07 |  Cardiff City
Ridsdale aids new Cardiff stadium
04 Feb 05 |  Cardiff City
Jones is named new Cardiff boss
25 May 05 |  Cardiff City


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