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By ESPN Staff

Ridsdale: I should have said no to O'Leary

Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale has admitted he allowed too many players to be brought in during his time at Elland Road - but insists he could have prevented their slide down to League One.

The 55-year-old spent almost six years in charge at Leeds up to his resignation in March 2003, during which time the club enjoyed the greatest on-field success in their recent history.

Most famously, United reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, but just three years later they were relegated from the Premiership, saddled with crippling debts.

Ridsdale received much of the criticism for allowing the Yorkshire club's finances to deteriorate, and he admits he would be more careful with the purse strings given his time again.

In particular, the current Cardiff chairman wishes he had not allowed then manager David O'Leary to spend so lavishly on talent.

'I regret a number of things we did. I think I said `yes' too often to the manager - we bought too many quality players,' he told BBC Radio 4's `On the Ropes' programme, in an interview to be broadcast tomorrow morning.

'We had too many players who felt they should have been in the team every week who couldn't get in the team because we'd got 24 international players.

'Looking back, I would do things differently. I would challenge the manager more, run things tighter.

'I still don't regret taking the amount of debt on we did but I regret spending the amount of money on footballers.

'We did buy too many and the manager, every time he said he wanted a footballer, we said yes. We should have said no.'

Ridsdale, who resigned in the face of massive fan unrest, is adamant that had he been given the opportunity carry on, Leeds would not have been facing such a bleak immediate future.

A home draw with Ipswich on Saturday, coupled with Hull's win at Cardiff, means that barring a miraculous sequence of events they will be playing in football's third tier for the first time in their history when next season begins.

And Ridsdale said: 'I actually believe that had I been allowed to stay around - and it was my decision to go, but clearly the pressure was such from our supporters that I couldn't take any more - I don't believe that Leeds would be in the situation they are in now.'

He added: 'In the end, after five very successful years, it started to go wrong, but it's gone far more wrong since I left than it did while I was there.'

Ridsdale also suggested that he remains bitter at his treatment by the club upon his exit.

'I think the people who succeeded me haven't demonstrated they have done a better job than I did, and I think to be honest there was a certain amount of briefing against me in the press to deflect attention away from other people,' he claimed.