Terry Pierce - League Two strugglers set for very different futures

29 March 2011 09:49
As the season enters its final throes, the promotion battles and survival struggles are heating up across the three divisions in the Football League.

Possibly the most pertinent and important of these battles is at the foot of League Two. And for the two sides who currently find themselves staring down the barrel of relegation from the Football League, there seems very little light at the end of the tunnel.

Both Stockport County and Barnet are two points off safety but Burton, who currently occupy 22nd position, have four games in hand over both clubs.The gap then quickly extends by another five points, and the bottom two are beginning to look cut off at the foot of the Football League.

Despite their current plights, there are few similarities between the two sides. Barnet were a well-established non-league club for the vast majority of their existence before bouncing between the bottom rung of the professional ladder and the pinnacle of the non-league game for the past two decades.

They're a well-run club who get by on small gates while continually striving to be self-sufficient, particularly with the development of The Hive. The Hive is a 44-acre site that Barnet, alongside local councils, are in the processing of developing into a top-class centre of excellence and training area for the community, Barnet FC and clubs further down the pyramid.

The facilities are second-to-none, and have played host to a number of international sides, and it is refreshing to see a small community club invest so heavily in its future and the local community. Survival is the aim for Barnet and new boss Martin Allen, but relegation would not be the end of the Bees. Further development of the Hive may be impacted, but the club has a secure future and, under Paul Fairclough and chairman Tony Kleanthous, they are being guided by two experienced men with the club in their hearts.

Barnet's Football League future may be in doubt, but their future as a club isn't. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for County.

Less than ten years ago they were playing in the second tier, taking on their near neighbours Manchester City. But after a torrid decade of financial trouble, they've plummeted through the leagues and very nearly out of business. They are also now tenants in their own home, with rugby club Sale Sharks owning Edgeley Park.

New owners, the 2015 consortium, took over last summer, and employed Paul Simpson as manager. But the club have again struggled, resulting in Simpson leaving his post and now the experienced Ray Mathias is in charge. There does not, unfortunately, seem to any light at the end of the tunnel for the Hatters. Relegation will come at a huge cost for a club already feeling the strain.

Both Barnet and County look unlikely to survive the drop now, but while Bees fans can be confident of bouncing back, County fans may well just be hoping for a club to watch next season.

Source: DSG

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