2010 Football League Championship play-off Final
|Event||2009–10 Football League Championship|
|Date||22 May 2010|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Keith Southern (Blackpool)|
|Referee||Andre Marriner (West Midlands)|
|Weather||Sunny, 28 °C (82 °F)|
The 2010 Football League Championship play-off Final was a football match played at Wembley Stadium in London on 22 May 2010 to decide the third team to be promoted from the Championship to the Premier League for the 2010–11 season. The culmination of the 2010 Football League Championship play-offs saw Blackpool beat Cardiff City to earn promotion alongside the Championship champions Newcastle United and runners-up West Bromwich Albion.
Blackpool entered the play-offs having finished sixth in the 2009–10 Football League Championship, bottom of the play-off places, while Cardiff finished two places above in fourth. Blackpool reached the play-off final after a 6–4 aggregate semi-final victory over third-place finishers Nottingham Forest, while Cardiff in their semi-final beat fifth-placed Leicester City by virtue of a penalty shoot-out following a 3–3 aggregate draw over two legs.
In the match, Cardiff twice took the lead only for Blackpool to equalise within four minutes on both occasions. Blackpool took the lead just before half-time following a goal from striker Brett Ormerod. With no score from either team in the second half, the final result was 3–2 to Blackpool in normal time.
As a consequence of winning promotion, Blackpool's Bloomfield Road stadium, which has a capacity of just over 16,000, became the smallest stadium to host Premier League football. It also meant Blackpool returned to the top flight of English League football for the first time since the 1970–71 season, when they spent one season in the old First Division, finishing bottom.
Route to the final
|2.||West Bromwich Albion||46||26||13||7||89||48||91|
|Pos=Position P=Matches played W=Wins D=Draws|
L=Defeats F=Goals for A=Goals against Pts=Points
The 2009–10 Championship title was won by Newcastle United with 102 points, returning to the Premier League one season after being relegated. The second automatic promotion spot was claimed by West Bromwich Albion who had also been relegated from the Premier League the previous year.
Blackpool, who had been considered as candidates for relegation at the start of the season by some critics, finished the season in sixth position to claim the final play-off place, securing the spot with a 1–1 draw against Bristol City in their final league match. With a total of 70 points, they finished a single point ahead of Swansea City who were held to a 0–0 draw with Doncaster Rovers in their final match. They were paired with third-placed Nottingham Forest in the play-offs, winning the first leg 2–1. After conceding a 13th-minute goal from Chris Cohen, Blackpool came from behind to win following a goal from Keith Southern and a penalty from Charlie Adam.
In the second leg, Blackpool twice fell behind, equalising first through DJ Campbell after an early first-half goal from Robert Earnshaw and again from Stephen Dobbie after Earnshaw's second goal of the match. They took the lead with two quick goals from Campbell who completed his hat-trick in the space of three minutes, scoring in the 76th and 79th minutes, as Blackpool took a 6–3 aggregate lead. Forest striker Dele Adebola scored a late goal in injury time but Blackpool advanced to the play-off final as the match finished 4–3, with an aggregate score of 6–4.
Cardiff City finished fourth in the Championship, three points behind Nottingham Forest and level with Leicester City in fifth. Cardiff's superior goal difference gave them the advantage over Leicester, and thus they would have home advantage in the second leg. The first leg at the Walkers Stadium was decided by a single goal from Cardiff's Peter Whittingham who scored from a free-kick in the 78th minute.
In the second leg, Michael Chopra opened the scoring to double Cardiff's lead in the tie, but an equaliser on the day from Matty Fryatt and an own goal from Cardiff captain Mark Hudson levelled the tie at 2–2. Andy King then gave Leicester the lead on aggregate with a goal just after half-time. With just over 20 minutes to play in the tie, Cardiff were awarded a penalty, which Whittingham scored to level the aggregate score again at 3–3. With the away goals rule not in effect in the Football League play-offs, the tie went to extra time. No further goals were scored in the additional 30 minutes, so the tie had to be settled by a penalty shoot-out. Both sides scored each of their first three kicks, before David Marshall saved a Panenka attempt from Leicester's Yann Kermorgant, allowing Mark Kennedy to give Cardiff the lead. Marshall then saved from Martyn Waghorn to put Cardiff through to the final.
|Nottingham Forest||6–4||2–1 home; 4–3 away||Semi-finals||Leicester City||3–3
(4–3 on pens)
|1–0 away; 2–3 home|
The two teams were competing for promotion to the Premier League, the first tier of the English football league system. The play-off final was held at Wembley Stadium in London. Blackpool had played once before at the redeveloped Wembley, against Yeovil Town in the 2007 Football League One play-off Final. Cardiff had played at the redeveloped stadium on two occasions in 2008, in the semi-final and final of the 2007–08 FA Cup. Neither side had ever played in the Premier League since the league's decision to break away from the Football League in 1992 and Cardiff would have become the first non-English team to play in the league had they won. The Championship play-off finals are considered one of the most financially lucrative matches in football, with the winners of the 2010 final believed to receive around £90 million for winning the match and the subsequent promotion to the Premier League. The Football League announced that the English national anthem "God Save the Queen", traditionally played before play-off finals, would not be played before the match owing to concerns it could upset Cardiff's fans. This decision would later become Football League policy in subsequent matches at Wembley between Welsh and English clubs. This was due to the 2008 FA Cup Final between Portsmouth and Cardiff where both "God Save the Queen" and the Welsh anthem "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" were played and both sets of supporters booed the opposing anthems.
Blackpool president Valērijs Belokoņs had promised the club's players a £5 million reward fund at the start of the 2009–10 season if they achieved promotion to the Premier League, set to be shared among the players dependent on appearances made over the course of the season. Club captain Ian Evatt stated that the potential bonus had spurred the team on during the season, commenting "if anyone deserves it, it is this group of players". Manager Ian Holloway had previously met Cardiff in the 2003 Football League Second Division play-off Final seven years previously, when his Queens Park Rangers side lost in extra-time. Holloway made no changes to Blackpool's matchday squad, naming the same starting line-up and substitutes used in their play-off semi-final second leg.
Cardiff kept their team hotel location secret in order to avoid any attempts of a retaliation attempt by fans of Queens Park Rangers following an incident prior to the 2003 Football League Second Division play-off Final when the two sides met in which a Cardiff fan was arrested after triggering a false fire alarm call at the Rangers' team hotel during the night prior to the match. Rangers' internet message boards had seen fans threaten a possible "revenge attack" but Cardiff manager Dave Jones stated that the club had taken extra precautions but that "they will probably find out where we are staying. If it goes off, it goes off; but I think there is enough security there". The Cardiff squad would receive a £1.6 million bonus to be shared among the players if they achieved promotion.
Jones made no changes to the side that had started the second leg of the club's play-off semi-final against Leicester City, striker Jay Bothroyd overcoming doubts over a grade two hamstring strain injury to be named in the starting line-up. The only change to the matchday squad was Anthony Gerrard being selected on the bench in place of Gábor Gyepes.
Cardiff began the match as the more open of the teams with Peter Whittingham playing a cross into the box where Michael Chopra was able to beat opposition defender Alex Baptiste to the ball, hitting the crossbar with his resulting shot four minutes into the match. Five minutes later, Whittingham again played in Chopra, allowing the striker to score past Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks into the bottom corner of the net. However, four minutes later Cardiff conceded a free-kick on the edge of their penalty area when Stephen McPhail was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball by referee Andre Marriner. Charlie Adam, who had scored the winning penalty in the first leg of the play-off semi-final, scored after hitting the free-kick around the wall and into the net to equalise. After fifteen minutes Cardiff striker Jay Bothroyd succumbed to his pre-existing hamstring injury and was substituted, being replaced by loan player Kelvin Etuhu. Blackpool were able to establish themselves in the game as Cardiff adjusted to the change, as Stephen Crainey and DJ Campbell both shot wide from outside the penalty area.
As Cardiff regrouped, they created several opportunities towards the end of the first half and they retook the lead after 36 minutes when Whittingham recorded his second assist of the match by playing a pass to Joe Ledley who beat the advancing Gilks to give Cardiff a 2–1 lead. Blackpool again equalised four minutes after Cardiff had taken the lead. A Blackpool corner was fumbled by Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall and fell to Ian Evatt whose shot was blocked on the goal line by Mark Kennedy but fell to Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who had hit the post with a shot minutes earlier, and he was able to turn the ball into the net. Blackpool continued to press and they took the lead in first-half injury time when Campbell was tackled by a Cardiff defender only for the ball to deflect to Brett Ormerod who gave Blackpool a 3–2 lead. Ormerod later described the chance, stating "Marshall jumped at me and made himself big so all I could do was to bung the ball straight through his legs". Shortly before the end of the first-half, Cardiff defender Darcy Blake managed to score but the goal was ruled out for offside. The five goals scored was a record for the most goals scored in the first half of a Championship play-off final.
Despite taking the lead, Blackpool continued to attack after half-time, with Taylor-Fletcher creating chances for the side early in the second-half. Manager Ian Holloway substituted two of his side's goalscorers within the first fifteen minutes of the half, replacing Taylor-Fletcher and Ormerod with Stephen Dobbie and Ben Burgess. Michael Chopra struck the post for the second time in the match soon after when Chris Burke had played a pass to the striker and Ledley and Etuhu both had attempts on goal as Cardiff pushed forward. Cardiff replaced winger Burke with forward Ross McCormack but, as their frustration grew, they committed more players to attacks and Blackpool created several chances late in the game as they looked to counter-attack but both sides were unable to convert any chances and the match eventually finished with Blackpool securing a 3–2 victory.
|Shots on target||6||5|
Source: BBC Sport
By winning the match, Blackpool returned to the first tier of English football for the first time since the 1970–71 season and were described by The Daily Telegraph as the "smallest club to reach the Premier League". Manager Ian Holloway described himself as "bursting with pride" over the club's promotion to the Premier League in his first season in the role. Blackpool midfielder Keith Southern was named man of the match.
The club appointed a five-man panel to allocate the promised £5 million promotion bonus consisting of chairman Karl Oyston, manager Ian Holloway, club captain Jason Euell, the club's PFA representative Paul Rachubka and Stephen Crainey. Oyston later revealed that the club's squad had voted to exclude three players from the bonus payout, former loan signings Marcel Seip and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and an unnamed contracted player. Emmanuel-Thomas and the unnamed player would accept a lower payout but defender Seip later sued the club over his share of the promotion bonus having been excluded from the payout. Having played seven matches during the season, he was later awarded £72,206 plus legal costs and interest.
Loanees Séamus Coleman and DJ Campbell both returned to their parent clubs at the end of the season. A permanent deal for Leicester City striker Campbell was completed on 31 August 2010 despite Blackpool initially refusing to pay the asking price. Ben Burgess was the only contracted player in the play-off final matchday squad to leave the club prior to the Premier League season, joining Notts County.
The following season, Blackpool, who earnt praise for their attacking style of play, were relegated on the final day of the season after losing 4–2 to Manchester United. In their first season back in the Championship, with the promise of another promotion bonus, Holloway led the club to another play-off final where they suffered a 2–1 defeat to West Ham United. In November 2012, Holloway left Blackpool after being offered the manager's job at Crystal Palace. Following Holloway's departure, the club struggled under several managers and were eventually relegated to League One in 2014 and suffered a second successive relegation the year after to League Two.
Cardiff reached the play-offs again in the 2010–11 season after finishing fourth but suffered defeat in the semi-final, losing 3–0 on aggregate to Reading. The defeat would ultimately cost Cardiff manager Dave Jones his job as the club decided to terminate his contract following an end-of-season performance review. At the time of his departure, Jones was the longest serving manager in the Championship. After a third successive defeat in the play-offs in 2011–12, Cardiff gained promotion to the Premier League in 2013 after winning the Championship title.
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- Media related to 2010 Football League Championship play-off Final at Wikimedia Commons