Often when the season’s coming to an end and there’s still a title race in the Premier League the focus automatically falls on the top league, that’s where the money is and that’s where there’s most interest. ‘Armchair fans’ all over the country are wondering if they will have to change teams at the end of the season if, God forbid, their team doesn’t win a trophy. This dance has happened many a time, in 1995 when Blackburn Rovers won the league (thanks in no small part to Jack Walker, their then moneybags chairman) within a day you saw their replica jerseys all around the country. The same happened when Manchester United did the treble in 1999, Arsenal went unbeaten in 2004 and Chelsea suddenly had cash in 2005. People change their affiliation so that they can experience instant success and therefore joy, albeit slightly hollow joy, the kind of joy you’d get from joining a marathon 200 meters from the end and then winning it, you’ve won but no real hardship has had to be experienced.

This isn’t the case for thousands of football fans supporting teams in the lower leagues, while ‘armchair’ Chelsea supporters will have to console themselves with a 3rd place finish, Champions League qualification (and a possible CL win) and a League Cup triumph many fans supporting teams with a only a few thousand fans will be experiencing joy and despair as their teams face promotion, relegation or possible extinction.

In the Championship (the league below the Premier League) Wolverhampton Wanderers are currently 5 points clear at the top with 6 games left to play, 2 teams are promoted automatically and 1 via a 4 team play-off. Wolves are looking to return to the Premiership 5 years after being relegated in 20th position. If they do go up they will be hoping to emulate some of their better results in the 2003-2004 season, most memorably a 1-0 home win over Man United.

In League One where 3 again go up Leicester are currently top and 7 points clear of 2nd placed Peterborough United, the Foxes are attempting to bounce straight back from relegation last season and look a near certainty to go back. Another giant in this league are Leeds United who were relegated from the Premiership in 2004 amid massive financial problems and then relegated again in 2007. They missed out on promotion last season when they lost in the play-off final to Doncaster and are again in with a shout of play-off glory and are currently sitting in the third play-off place (5th). At the other end of the table Northampton Town, a team that wanted to expand their ground to 15,000 capacity despite only getting crowds of 5,000, are 2 points in front of the team in the last relegation place, Yeovil, and have to play them on Tuesday in what could be a vital game.

In League Two (where 4 teams are promoted) Brentford are 6 points clear of second placed Rochdale with 8 games to play. The most interesting story in League Two though, is at the bottom. Before the start of the season Luton, Bournemouth and Rotherham were deducted 30, 17 and 17 points respectively due to financial and other wrong doings. So you would automatically thing that 2 of these 3 teams will be the ones relegated out of the Football League? Wrong. Rotherham have managed to collect 61 points minus the 17 to see them into mid-table and safety. If they were given back the 17 points now they would be in the play-off places. Bournemouth have managed 51 points minus the 17 to see them 5 points clear of the final relegation place and Luton have managed 49 points minus 30, they’re still rock bottom but are catching up on the teams around them quickly. If they manage to stay up it would be the greatest ‘Great Escape’ imaginable.

There’s a lot of football left to play this but not all in the Premiership. Tears will be shed amongst much smaller crowds then you see at Old Trafford and the like and the stories can be much more exciting.


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