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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Sunday, 23 May 2010 16:44 UK

Cardiff hope on Far Eastern Promise

Cardiff fans are apprehensive over the club's future following Championship play-off final defeat by Blackpool
Cardiff fans are apprehensive over the club's future following Championship play-off final defeat by Blackpool

By Peter Shuttleworth, BBC Wales
BBC Sport Wales

The 'Cardiff City family' Dave Jones often speaks of awoke on Sunday in exactly the same division as they were on Saturday morning, but their collective insides were churning over what they could have won.

And as if missing out on the £90m Premier League jackpot was not tough enough, the real headache of the night before will soon take hold as the ramifications of Championship play-off final failure become clear.

The one certainty is the Bluebirds will start their eighth season in the Championship in August.

The uncertainty, though, is while it may be Cardiff City, it may not be Cardiff City as we know it.

The distinct fear among the Cardiff faithful was that Saturday will prove to be the last time the likes of Joe Ledley, Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham and even Dave Jones represent the club.

Bluebirds boss Jones made a throwaway remark in the immediate emotion-fuelled aftermath of their 3-2 Wembley heartbreaker to Blackpool about speaking to the Welsh club's new post-Peter Ridsdale board on Monday to "see which way they want to go".

Like Saturday's 'biggest game in Cardiff's history', that will be no friendly catch-up and could instead prove to be another pivotal moment in the debt-ridden club's future.

Joe Ledley consoled at the end of Cardiff City's 3-2 playoff final loss to Blackpool
Joe Ledley put Cardiff ahead but there is now speculation about his future

Cardiff are in a perilous financial position because of their multi-million pound debt - which is anywhere between the £15m Ridsdale insists to the £30m figure in their last recorded financial accounts - and face their fifth winding-up order from the taxman at the High Court on 16 June.

So Monday's summit talks between Jones and the new Malaysian investors will effectively decide if Cardiff will continue their pursuit of their Premier League dream or risk relegation back to where they have spent most of their also-ran history.

Billionaire businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun is the moneyman behind Cardiff's new consortium but his first game, at Wembley, was be memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

Ridsdale leaves his five years in south Wales with the club boasting a Premier League class stadium, top-class training facility and sought-after manager but with liabilities on the balance sheet.

The Cardiff chairman will be replaced by Dato Chan Tien Ghee in a move that is likely to be rubberstamped at Thursday's shareholders meeting.

Chan, who became a Bluebirds director in December, is set to secure a 49% shareholding in the troubled club and be the public figurehead while Tan is the real power behind the throne.

Cardiff's £1m-a-month wage bill will be in the spotlight as the new owners seek prudence off-the-field and getting the debt down.

And while the players are united in wanting Jones to stay, if the financial rug were to be pulled from under him the club's future could be shrouded in even more doubt.

Should Jones have to undertake a rebuilding project like the one he inherited when he replaced Lennie Lawrence five years ago then his days in the Welsh capital may be numbered.

Jones, though, insists his immediate future is ensuring that the 2008 FA Cup finalists learn from another Wembley disappointment.

"I will go on holiday to reflect as we have gone close," he said.

"My heart and mind is towards Cardiff City but football throws up other things as maybe the board might want to change and maybe something else might come in, but at the moment I'm fully focused on starting again next season at Cardiff.

"We've organised a pre-season trip to Malaysia in the summer and I'm going to do a recce and the board wouldn't let me do things like that if they don't want me.

"And the board have given no indication other than let's keep building and keep going.

"We're getting closer but perhaps Blackpool are more stable. We haven't had that. We have that now. Hopefully we will grow from here as we won't be on sandy ground we'll be on a firm footing.

"I've just met Vincent Tan and the new board are hungry for success. We need to strengthen and find players for different positions. Some players have not done it for two years now and it might be time for a change.

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"Maybe I can do it next season - but there is not much cost-cutting to work with as we haven't bought a player since August."

Jones, linked with the still vacant West Ham and Celtic positions, is certainly a manager in demand for doing a good job in tough circumstances.

Cardiff's play-off final defeat was a perfect microcosm of their season as Chopra and Ledley's goals showcased their razor-sharp cutting edge but Jones' men have defence liabilities and a lack of Plan B - especially when Bothroyd is absent.

Jones knows this Cardiff team needs further investment - in both defence and midfield - before the almost inevitable loss of Ledley and teenage defender Adam Matthews.

The Malaysian investors, billed as the white knights to save the City, have already spent £6m.

And Tan hoped for the bargain of the century with an immediate £90m dividend of Premier League promotion as Cardiff, the pre-match favourites, took the lead twice against Blackpool but still lost.

So his first 90 minutes of football showed him that there is no sure thing in this game.

This is our first experience of this sort of thing. There's a new season coming up, let's just see where we've gone wrong

New backer Dato Chan Tien Ghee

Tan will be aware that it would not make business sense to invest £6m in a club then run it down and risk relegation into the lower divisions where money is all too scarce.

So the 58-year-old, whose Berjaya Group specialises in golfing, property, resorts and gambling, may want to continue Cardiff's gamble and push for the cash and worldwide profile he could achieve for high-rolling with the Premier League big boys.

And Chan pledged after Cardiff's play-off disappointment: "When I step in my commitments are always there.

"I promise you one thing, we'll try very hard and I'll do whatever's necessary to get us up there again. This is our first experience of this sort of thing. There's a new season coming up, let's just see where we've gone wrong."

Cardiff fans are always wary of promises as they have suffered their fair share of unfulfilled ones over the years.

Hope is not the tonic for hurt as football fans prefer it when action speaks louder than words.



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see also
New Cardiff backer's plea to fans
22 May 10 |  Cardiff
Cardiff cash must flow - McPhail
23 May 10 |  Cardiff
So near and yet so far
22 May 10 |  Cardiff
Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff
22 May 10 |  Championship
Blackpool v Cardiff photos
22 May 10 |  Football
Blackpool set for boom - Holloway
23 May 10 |  Championship
Bothroyd injury cost us - Hudson
22 May 10 |  Cardiff
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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