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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 15:08 UK

Cardiff's cup of plenty

By Bruce Pope

Joe Ledley's ninth-minute goal against Barnsley booked Cardiff's FA Cup final place
Joe Ledley's goal against Barnsley booked Cardiff's FA Cup final place

Cardiff City are basking in the glow of reaching the FA Cup final after Sunday's 1-0 win over Barnsley.

The players and manager Dave Jones can rightly be proud of their achievement and anticipate another grand day out at Wembley on 17 May when they face Portsmouth.

Supporters will also revel in the glamour of the competition and the chance to write another chapter of history to stand proudly alongside that previous FA Cup success of 1927.

But once the excitement on the pitch has subsided - although it will build fiercely until the final - everyone involved with the South Wales club can take their thrills from the dusty, dull world of ledger sheets and player contracts.

The FA Cup run has already placed an extra 900,000 in prize money alone in Cardiff's coffers.

Another 1m is on offer should they beat Portsmouth, although the loser of an FA Cup final misses out on any share of prize money, gate receipts or television revenue.

But any money earned from the tournament would have meant little to Cardiff if it had not been able to fend off creditors Langston in the High Court last month.

The Swiss investment bank, associated with former Cardiff chairman Sam Hammam, demanded the immediate repayment of 24m of a total 31m in loans.

Getting to the FA Cup final helps make sure that we secure the players that we've got now

Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale

Losing that case would have immediately plunged Cardiff into administration.

The Cup run, the new stadium being constructed, the modern training facilities - all of this could have been rendered almost meaningless.

But while success in the courts is Cardiff's foundation for a bright future, the march to Wembley has done some serious underpinning.

Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale estimates that the court case cost the club an extra 500,000 in legal fees it had not budgeted for.

The Cup success has offset that and should leave a little something for boss Jones to put towards his squad.

"The club's had financial difficulties for three or four years now, ever since it borrowed the 24m," Ridsdale told BBC Wales.

"But Dave and the players have been focussed on their job, I've been focussed on making sure those loan notes didn't bring the club down.

"We've now got a stadium that's being built, we're got through the court case and we're now in the FA Cup final."

Keeping the majority of Jones' squad together and bringing in fresh blood will not be achieved purely on the ability to pay.

Jones has already worked miracles on a shoe-string budget, enticing the likes of Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to Cardiff.

Cardiff's Trevor Sinclair challenges for the ball against Barnsley
This season's FA Cup run will leave Cardiff riding high on and off the field

That was achieved in part by the new facilities being constructed, in part by Jones' own persuasive abilities.

But talent has also flowed out of Ninian Park for several seasons now.

Since 2004 the likes of Rob Earnshaw, Danny Gabbidon, James Collins, Graham Kavanagh, Cameron Jerome, Michael Chopra and Chris Gunter have all departed to help keep Cardiff afloat.

Premiership clubs may yet test Cardiff's resolve and bank balance this summer with increased bids for Joe Ledley - the Bluebirds' goal hero against Barnsley - and 17-year-old midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

But allied with a few more pennies in the kitty will be the FA Cup-boosted perception that Cardiff are a 'big' club, a club going places, a club capable of challenging for major honours.

A club that as an ambitious, confident player you want to join, or indeed remain with.

"The bills are going to be paid through developments around the new stadium," Ridsdale added.

"But getting to the FA Cup final helps make sure that we secure the players that we've got now for further seasons ahead, because we've got quite a few contract talks this summer.

"Hopefully we'll generate some funds to make sure we add to the squad so we can give an even better impression next year.

Ninian opinion

"I'm assuming Dave will come along and ask for some money to spend and this helps with that."

If they now beat Portsmouth to win the Cup, the Cardiff lure will be cranked up another few levels, especially if it comes with a place in the Uefa Cup.

The Football Association has always said that it would not nominate Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid for European competition.

The FA's stance has softened noticeably on this issue since Sunday, no doubt aided by statements from Uefa that European football's governing is likely to offer Cardiff a wildcard into its tournament if the FA will not 'play fair'.

In an incredible season Cardiff could even yet reach the promised land of the Premier League, although the odds are still stacked against securing a late place in the play-offs.

But if an assault on promotion has to be mounted again next season, this year's FA Cup run could provide the fuel that propels the Cardiff machine through the Premier League barricades.

see also
Jones backs Cardiff's Uefa claim
07 Apr 08 |  Cardiff City
Uefa offers Cardiff Euro lifeline
07 Apr 08 |  Cardiff City
Ledley eager for final challenge
06 Apr 08 |  Cardiff City
Barnsley 0-1 Cardiff
06 Apr 08 |  FA Cup
Cardiff keen to make new signings
21 Mar 08 |  Cardiff City
Ridsdale calls for Cardiff talks
20 Mar 08 |  Cardiff City
Steve Thompson's lowdown on Cardiff
03 Apr 08 |  Championship
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales

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