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Win or bust for Cardiff at Wembley - Nathan Blake

Coca Cola Championship play-off final - Blackpool v Cardiff City
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday, 22 May Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live & online, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website and highlights on The Football League Show. Live on Sky Sports 1


Ridsdale's 'successful' Cardiff legacy

Former striker Nathan Blake says cash-strapped Cardiff must beat Blackpool and reach the Premier League in Saturday's Championship play-off final.

"It would appear to be a win or bust situation," said the ex-Wales star.

But outgoing chairman Peter Ridsdale has defended the position he is leaving the club in whatever the Wembley score.

"With the turnover in the new stadium, the overhead structure now is fine for the Championship," said Ridsdale, who leaves a debt estimated at £15m.

"There's a lot of money riding on the outcome and there are a lot of reputations riding on the outcome," acknowledged Ridsdale, in an extended interview for Friday's Sport Wales television programme.

Barring extra time, Saturday's encounter is a £1m-a-minute clash, generating around £90m over four years for the winner - an income that could turn around the fortunes of cash-strapped Cardiff City.

The club have already survived four winding-up orders as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs demand repayment of a £1.9m debt, with new Malaysian investors said to be set to step in before a fifth trip to the High Court.

Blake, a favourite of the Bluebirds fans in his time at the club, says it is now or never for Cardiff's dreams of making the big time.

Ledley & Hudson's Wembley dreams

"I can't really stress the level of importance - it's a game that Cardiff just cannot afford to lose," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"I think a lot of people fear if they don't win on Saturday and do stay in the Championship, what is coming is not going to be pretty.

"I don't think the club would fold but cutting back seems inevitable with their debt."

Cardiff's players have successfully put the off-field problems aside throughout the season and they are clearly focusing on doing their best for the club.

"It would be a massive achievement for this side and for Welsh football," captain Mark Hudson told BBC Sport Wales.

"This club is geared up to be [in the Premier League], now we've just got to get them there.

"It will be a massive achievement to lead the side out at Wembley and my family will be there to watch.

"But there's no point if we don't cross that line as winners and we've got a big task yet.

"We won't underestimate Blackpool at all. We've had two tough games against them this season."

Cardiff-born Bluebirds and Wales midfielder Joe Ledley could be making his last appearance for the club as he is out of contract at the end of the season.

"[The match is a] dream come true, one of the biggest I've played in," Ledley said.

"[Getting to the Premier League] would be one of the biggest achievements of my life and - being a local boy - one of the best things I could do for Cardiff City.

Chopra enjoys Cardiff transformation

"[Imagine] getting the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United down here to fill out our great new stadium.

"The club's come a long way. We've got a great team and the best gaffer [Dave Jones] I've ever worked with.

"Missing out [on the play-offs] last year was very hurtful - we've done well to learn from the mistakes and come back here.

"We're all looking forward to it but it will be a tough game, Blackpool are a great team who played brilliantly in the semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

"It'll be a game where both sides are trying to pass the ball, to get it on the ground and move it.

"It will be a full house, we have to keep our nerves, be patient and then we've got a good chance of winning.

"It's going to be one of those games where it comes down to what happens on the day."

*Catch BBC Sport Wales' Cardiff City play-off special on BBC TWO Wales on Friday at 2100 BST

Ian Holloway

Blackpool and Cardiff prepare for Wembley



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see also
Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff
22 May 10 |  Championship
Sport Wales: The TV Programme
15 Mar 11 |  Wales
Cardiff chase golden ticket
20 May 10 |  Cardiff
Train warning for Cardiff final
21 May 10 |  Wales
Chopra hoping for Wembley repeat
20 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff's big games on big screen
20 May 10 |  People and Places
Cardiff fans face motorway chaos
19 May 10 |  South east
Gatland inspiration for Holloway
19 May 10 |  Wales
Wales lines up for identity parade
19 May 10 |  Wales
Bothroyd injury cost us - Hudson
22 May 10 |  Cardiff
McPhail to repay Cardiff support
14 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff ready for 'biggest' game
13 May 10 |  Championship
Cardiff 2-3 Leicester (agg 3-3)
12 May 10 |  Championship
Forest 3-4 Blackpool (agg 4-6)
11 May 10 |  Championship
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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