TV deal collapse 'good for the Blades'

SHEFFIELD United manager Neil Warnock believes his side would not be in today's First Division play-off final but for the collapse of ITV Digital.

SHEFFIELD United manager Neil Warnock believes his side would not be in today's First Division play-off final but for the collapse of ITV Digital.

In fact the controversial Blades boss claims the collapse of the company, which hit clubs like Ipswich Town particularly hard, had a part to play in his team's remarkable season.

Warnock's remarkable claim comes as his Blades side prepare to take on Wolves at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for a £25million place in the Premiership.

United have been a revelation this season, taking third spot in Division One to add to their glorious runs to the semi-finals of the FA and Worthington cup competitions.

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But Warnock genuinely feels, despite his own man-management skills and tactical nous, the scandal which surrounded the ignominious demise of the broadcast company has underpinned the club's success.

The money which would have allowed other managers to strengthen their squads or pay their top players wages, and which many clubs had already budgeted for, was suddenly no longer available.

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Despite the likes of Bradford, Coventry and Derby barely managing to keep their heads above water last season as the loss of revenue hit them harder than most, the 54-year-old reckons it made for "a level playing field."

Warnock, who loves nothing more than to stoke up the fires of controversy, said: "The ITV Digital fiasco has been a big plus for me.

"The big hitters were unable to splash as much money around, so it made it better for me to compete.

"If ITV had not gone bust then we would not be in the position we're in now. I know we could not have done any better.

"Others would have done better, without a shadow of a doubt, so I find it ironic we have been helped by their demise. Most definitely."

That still does not stop Warnock from casting an envious glance in the direction of Wolves boss Dave Jones, who has been aided in his quest for promotion by the financial muscle of multi-millionaire chairman Sir Jack Hayward.

In Warnock's eyes, today's showdown is a case of the haves versus the have nots as he added: "We haven't got a Sir Jack Hayward or a John Madejski or anybody like that at this club.

"So it does make it doubly satisfying when I think of what we've achieved because you do throw glances of envy at certain managers when they get jobs.

"Some of them wouldn't have an idea what to do if they were in my situation because they've always had money."

Meanwhile, Wolves manager Dave Jones leads his side into today's match unburdened by the weight of history at Molineux.

Wolves chairman and president Sir Jack Hayward – as well as their fanatical fan base –- demand Premiership football.

But in the run-up to today's Millennium Stadium clash, Jones was playing down the level of expectation heaped upon his shoulders.

"It's a fantastic history at this club," said Jones. "And if I become part of that then that's great because nothing would give me more pleasure.

"It would be great to be among the names and all the photographs you see on the walls at the stadium. But there's a place for the history of the football club.

"Everyone tells me I've got to do it for the fans, I've got to do it for Sir Jack, I've got to do it for this, I've got to do it for that. But I want to do it for myself first and foremost.

"If I do it for myself then I'm helping my staff and my players and everybody associated with the club and if that's perceived as greed then I can't change from that.

"I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't want to go down in Wolves history, but the history of this football club and their efforts in trying to get into the Premiership before I arrived here cannot be my burden, that's not been my problem."

Wolves' lust for top-flight football was intensified by their near miss last season.

Dragged into the play-off scramble, Wolves were then knocked out by semi-final opposition Norwich.

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