Just the ticket for cup tie fan

Peter Ridsdale

Peter Ridsdale

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A fan trying to book seats for Preston’s FA Cup glamour tie with soccer superpower Manchester United had a VIP surprise when he realised the man answering his call was Peter Ridsdale.

The North End supporter, a 37-year-old solicitor, thought he had got through to an automated ticketline at Deepdale.

But the real life voice which greeted him sounded familiar. And when the receptionist introduced himself as former chairman Ridsdale, now special advisor to owner Trevor Hemmings, the caller confessed: “I was stunned.

“This chap said ‘hello.’ He seemed to be quite surprised. I asked him if I was through to the ticket office and he said ‘no, it’s Peter Ridsdale. How can I help?

“It was an unexpected start to the morning really to get through to the top man. He was perfectly polite and couldn’t have been more helpful.”

A spokesman for Preston North End insisted the ex-Leeds and Cardiff chief had not been manning the phones as a call-line receptionist to help deal with the scramble for tickets.

“I’m assuming that, because he was in the office very early, he just picked up a phone that was ringing and answered it,” he explained.

The club has been “inundated” with calls for tickets since North End beat Sheffield United 3-1 on Tuesday night to book a home tie with United on Monday February 16.

The game is expected to attract a capacity crowd with Louis van Gaal’s giants certain to sell out their ticket allocation.

The match will be shown live on BBC TV.