Birmingham City Football Club co-owner David Sullivan has launched a blistering attack on local civic leaders as plans for the Blues' proposed new 'super stadium' hung in the balance.
Following a Government decision which diminishes Blues' chances of a new super-stadium casino complex, the multi-millionaire said his club could not compete with Premiership rivals because it lacked support from a city "only good at building shopping centres".
His outburst came after Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell conceded there would be only one regional super casino, instead of the eight previously planned by Ministers.
Ms Jowell accepted the cut in a deal with shadow Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to save the Government's Gambling Bill before Parliament dissolves for the General Election.
The location of the new casino will be decided by an independent panel but, welcoming the agreement, Mr Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford) said: "Its location should be a leisure resort where the regeneration potential is greatest. The case for locating such a casino in Blackpool is very strong."
Blues plan to move from St Andrew's to a nearby stateofthe-art 60,000-seater 'super stadium' anchored by a money-spinning casino. The scheme requires the financial backing of American casino giant Las Vegas Sands.
Mr Sullivan told The Birmingham Post he would be "mortified" if Blackpool got the super casino, but added: "I will take my hat off to a council from a small seaside town in the middle of nowhere because they have more guts than Birmingham."
He said it was time Birmingham forgot about its recent disappointments in losing the Motor Show and the Capital of Culture bid, and threw its weight behind his club's stadium bid.
"I think it is about time Birmingham got off the fence and got behind a major project for the city.
"The City of Culture campaign was an appalling presentation, so our leaders should really get behind something positive properly," he said.
"We have only ever won the games that no one wants. So it is time Birmingham started to be winners.
"It is no good saying 'Oh well, we have not got anything in the past'. People from the council have to look at themselves in the mirror and say 'Why are we always losing out?' They have to really fight harder."
The new stadium was " vital" for Blues, with St Andrew's sold out in almost every home game this season, Mr Sullivan said.
The club had invested "hundreds of thousands of pounds" on drawing up plans for the new stadium and managing director Karren Brady had spent "thousands" of hours on the project.
"At the moment we cannot compete with the Manchester, Newcastle or London clubs, but all we seem to be good at in this city is building shopping centres," he added
Ken Hardeman (Con Brandwood), the city council's cabinet member for regeneration, said: "The Government has messed this up. First there were 40 casinos, then 20, then eight and now one. We needed to be sure of what the new law would mean before we could say what our position was on it."