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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Ridsdale to fulfil Hammam 'dream'
Cardiff City chairman Peter Ridsdale
Ridsdale says Cardiff will be debt-free within a year
New Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale has promised to fulfil Sam Hammam's "dream" of building a new stadium for the club and leading them into the Premiership.

Ridsdale praised Hammam for his "sacrifice" to step aside as chairman so that new investors could come in.

Hammam said relinquishing control of Cardiff "shattered" him, but accepted it was in the club's best interest.

"Sam knew that this club needed new investment to take it forward," Ridsdale told the club's website.

"This is a massive club with even more potential. By stepping aside now, he has given us a chance to achieve everything that has been dreamt about."

Former Leeds United chairman Ridsdale has refused to reveal the identity of the new investors willing to manage Cardiff's 24m debt in exchange for equity in the club.

I am a man with strong financial clout but nevertheless nowhere near what is needed for the club to go forward

Sam Hammam

He says they are "two or three" London-based financial institutions who specialise in hedge funds - a process using high-risk techniques in an effort to make extraordinary capital gains.

The deal is being brokered by former Football League chairman Keith Harris, now head of investment bank Seymour Pierce.

Harris is also advising the Icelandic businessman hoping to buy West Ham United.

Ridsdale said: "We will end up within 12 months being debt-free business and having a new stadium.

"Sam has taken his shareholding down from 82.5% to not a lot and people who are putting the money in wanted to see a change of management before their investment.

"They become the majority shareholders."

Hammam bought control of Cardiff back in 2000 when the Bluebirds were languishing in the bottom division of English football.

His investment and vision has transformed them into a club currently leading the chase for Premiership status.

Cardiff City's planned new stadium complex
Cardiff are close to starting work on a new stadium

But the next crucial step was building a new stadium and retail park which would ensure the club's financial stability for years to come.

The 35m project has been dogged by years delays as Cardiff have been unable to give assurance to Cardiff council they were able to cover the cost.

Hammam has resolutely stood up to the critics who questioned his ability to finance the project, but the Lebanese businessman has now admitted he has been punching above his weight.

"I am a man with strong financial clout but nevertheless nowhere near what is needed for the club to go forward," he said in a statement on the Cardiff website.

"Very simply, this club in common with many big clubs, proved to be far too big for one individual to handle - unless of course you are an Abramovich or a Glazier.

"I am not that and in effect I pumped up the club prospects to such a level that it became too big and powerful for me to handle. The club has outgrown me!"

I am now acutely aware of the tremendous responsibility that I now inherit

Peter Ridsdale

Ridsdale was recruited by Hammam 18 months ago to help him drive through the new stadium project.

The appointment raised many eyebrows as Ridsdale's reign as Leeds United chairman ended in 2003 with the club 103m in debt.

But Ridsdale is now likely to be credited with being the man who finally delivered Cardiff with a new 30,000-seater stadium, although he is keen to stress the significance of Hammam's contribution.

He said: "Whatever happens, Sam will be ever remembered as the man who created the new Cardiff City.

"The 'dream' was his and when achieved will be remembered as his. Sam is an 'all or nothing man' and with new investors it was not possible for him to remain. He therefore agreed to this personal sacrifice."

Ridsdale added: "Sam gave me the opportunity to get back into football and restore a reputation that had more recently taken a severe knock.

"I will never forget that. I am also now acutely aware of the tremendous responsibility that I now inherit."

Ridsdale in for Hammam at Cardiff
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07 Jul 06 |  Cardiff City
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05 Mar 05 |  Cardiff City
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17 Jun 03 |  Leeds United
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31 Mar 03 |  Leeds United


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