Joe Strange - Why six clubs deserve to be relegated
Published: 08 Feb 2010 - 07:37:01
While watching the scores come in on Saturday afternoon I saw an advert that got me thinking.
You might have seen it - a few blokes sitting around in a living room talking about football and making bets with one another.
In this particular version, the blokes in question are discussing the Premier League relegation candidates and placing a few quid on their favourites.
At one point, the big bald one says something along the lines of "I think about six clubs are gunna get relegated this season."
Cue scenes of laughter and joking among the rest of the boys and the end of the advert.
It might have been designed to make people sign up to a particular gambling website, but that line reminded me of something I first considered after FA Cup third round weekend just over a month ago.
While Leeds United were taking 9,000 fans to Old Trafford to witness their League One side knock-out champions Manchester United in the third round, just over 5,000 attended the all Premier League tie between Wigan and Hull City.
Yes attendances aren't the be all and end of all when it comes to deciding whether a club is 'big' or not, but the size of the support base is, to me at least, a clear indication of whether or not a club deserves top-flight football.
I' getting fed up of on turning on Match of the Day on a Saturday night and seeing half-empty grounds up and down the country.
Portsmouth, Blackburn, Wigan and Bolton are among the guiltiest, with only local derbies or the visit of the top four increasing the attendances above average.
Do the fans of these clubs not want to see Premier League football? It really doesn't seem like it, especially when you have the likes of Newcastle, Leeds and Norwich all pulling in far superior attendances despite boasting lower standards of football.
I'm well aware that going to football regularly can be an expensive business but the clubs I've mentioned offer some of the cheapest tickets in the league.
If I had my way then six clubs would be relegated this season, not only to reward those fans that turn up in their droves week-in week-out but to return the league to its former glory.
The Premier League's current line-up seems somewhat devoid of big clubs - those with history, great stadia and big fan bases.
Instead of former league, FA Cup and European Cup winners Leeds United, who still command an average attendance of nearly 25,000 despite playing in League One, we have Wigan Athletic, average attendance 18,000 and very little history. Why not replace Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Portsmouth and Hull with some of the sleeping giants of English football?
Clubs whose fans appreciate playing in the top league and will travel the length and breadth of the country no matter what the conditions or who they are playing.
Bring back Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Norwich and Southampton - clubs with history, tradition and real Premier League pedigree.
This is all wishful thinking on my behalf but if those kind of clubs can climb their way back to the first tier of English football, there will be no denying that the league will be all the better for it.
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- A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.
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