Wednesday, 3 August 2011

League One Thoughts and Predictions

A division full of potential promotion contenders for all kinds of reasons also finds itself pegged as the division of over and under achievers. Very few of the 24 strong line up are content at this level. All clubs have ambition, fans have even higher ambitions but most people involved with a team in League One have a realistic expectation and they tend to know the level that their club belongs at. Only 3 or 4 clubs would fit into the 3rd tier bracket when looking at the teams involved. But as a result we could easily see a number of surprises again once 46 games have been played and the dusts settled.

One of last seasons over achievers was Rochdale. A compact ground with a small but loyal fan base helped propel the side into a top 10 finish in what was the clubs first appearance in any division other than the Fourth tier of the English game. Unfortunately, with no strong signings of note and very little money around the club they could well find themselves standing over a trap door in 9 months time.

Looking at teams expected to challenge for the title, there isn't a stand out favourite.

Sheffield United and Preston North End will be up there. That's for sure. Both have large average attendances along with tremendous facilities. The playing squads haven't depleted in the way that most do following relegation and as a result they should have enough quality to challenge for the two automatic places. Huddersfield have been going from strength to strength but I expect them to miss out on the automatics again this season, instead settling for a play off berth. The same goes for MK Dons.

Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic are always tipped to be up toward the top but there's a worrying decline running throughout those two clubs and I really hope they both manage to turn things around soon. Both have tremendous stadiums and Sheffield Wednesday still have one of the largest fan bases in the UK. An amazing stat considering they've been absent from the Premier League for more that 10 years now.

Chesterfield are one of the new boys and moving very much in the right direction. The new B2Net stadium has given them a home to be proud of and obviously given the players a real boost. Attendances rose last season by 76% on the previous campaign. The highest marked rise of any team in England by more than 200%. Having visited recently and seen the facilities throughout the stadium up close and personal, I have to say, it's a good place to be right now. A team to watch.

The home of the £100 season ticket! That's right £100 for 23 home league games. Just over £4 per game! This unbelievable offer from Hartlepool United was snapped up within days. If you want to go and watch them this season you'll need to be prepared to stand as every seat is now sold out. A fantastic idea and one that will boost them from relegation candidates to mid-table hopefuls in my opinion.


Winner - Sheffield United
Runners Up - Preston North End
Play Offs - Huddersfield Town
Play Offs - MK Dons
Play Offs - Charlton Athletic
Play Offs - Chesterfield
Relegation - Rochdale
Relegation - Walsall
Relegation - Stevenage
Relegation - Leyton Orient

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