West Ham chairman: ‘I’d rather play Birmingham than Blackpool in the final’

West Ham co-chairman David Gold believes unpredictable Blackpool would provide tougher opposition than his former club in the play-off final at Wembley next week.

West Ham co-chairman David Gold has insisted that he would rather play former club Birmingham City in next week’s play-off showdown at Wembley Stadium.

Birmingham and Blackpool meet in their semi-final second leg at St Andrews tomorrow night with the Tangerines leading by 1-0 after the first game.

But Gold is hoping that Chris Hughton’s side can overturn that deficit and make it to Wembley.

“It is very hard to decide who we should play in the final,” said the co-chairman after Monday’s thumping 5-0 aggregate victory over Cardiff City.

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“First of all we drew both times with Birmingham City, so you can argue that we would prefer Blackpool because we have thumped them twice.

“But somehow there is something unknown about Blackpool because of the manager – you never know what he is going to do!

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“With Birmingham, what you see is what you get, so I just think we could plan against Birmingham better than we could against Blackpool.

“Having said that, I could say what all managers would say – I don’t mind who we play as long as we are there.”

Gold watched West Ham demolish Cardiff over two games in their semi-final and he still can’t believe that the team are not up already.

“I have to say we were outstanding against Cardiff,” he said.

“What are we doing in the play-offs? We have been so good these last few matches that it is disappointing that we didn’t get automatic promotion because that side is just outstanding.

“The way they are playing, the football they are playing, the goals they are scoring, they should be in the Premier League.

“Now we have got to go to Wembley which will be a fantastic day and I just hope that we can finish the job.”

Gold and co-owner David Sullivan have made no secret of the financial problems that beset the club and of course in a strange way, if West Ham can gain promotion via the play-offs it will be a more lucrative elevation that automatic promotion.

The co-chairman is reflective on that point though.

“If someone said to me you can either go up automatically or go up via the play-offs, then I would say go up in the play-offs,” he said.

“But I don’t want to be in the play-offs. I don’t want to go to Wembley unless you can tell me that we are going to win – but there are no guarantees.

“But, if we are promoted then yes, the excitement of getting promoted via the play-offs is just a dream come true for West Ham United.”

Few would want to contemplate not going up this season, but just how serious would failure be to the club?

“Well, you know it is very, very important to the finances of the club,” he insisted.

“But if we don’t go up we will survive. We have got the dedication of the owners and the financial commitment and as long as we have that we will be fine.”

For the moment though, the co-chairman just wants to revel in the thumping victory over Cardiff City.

“Remember we have won this game 5-0, two clean sheets along the way. The theory that our Achilles heel was playing at home, well it is not anymore, it was just outstanding,” said the enthusiastic fan.

“The team spirit is everywhere you go at the club. We are back. We slipped up and two things went wrong here.

“We drew a number of games that we shouldn’t have done and Reading went on an unbelievable run. It was a once in a lifetime run and we ended up in the play-offs.

“We still have work to do, but we have the chance to put things right.”

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