Here is this week’s blab about the Football League – originally posted at The Roar if someone can be bothered reading this twice. Or in fact, once.
Brighton & Hove Albion are the only unbeaten team in top English 5 divisions after a run of 17 unbeaten games. Solihull Moors from the sixth tier National League North also remain unbeaten after 17 games. Their current run in the Championship is a long way from some of the low times of the past three decade. Less than 20 years ago they needed a draw on the last day to stay in the fourth division, and even had to play over 100km away in Gillingham. But with the new stadium brought promotion to the Championship, and after a few playoff attempt look like they may be able to go all the way to the EPL, similar to now high-flying Leicester and Watford after similar near misses.
They are not first however… The side that is first is Hull City and along with 5th placed Burnley the importance of EPL parachute payments are starting to show. As long as you are a reasonably well run club, who prepare for the possibility of relegation, the advantage of the parting payment from the EPL is an advantage very few clubs can match in the new era of Financial Fair Play. With the new EPL deal kicking in next year, it will provide even more firepower for the sides coming down. And if a side the size of Aston Villa or Newcastle, which remain a possibility, the three places for promotion looks harder than they currently are.
Down at the other end of the Championship are last placed Bolton Wanderers, and an example of how to get things wrong after relegation. Whilst they haven’t slipped further down the Football League yet like Portsmouth, Wolves and Wigan before them, they are on track to do so, with just 1 win and 8 draws from their first 17 games. The club have no less a manager than ex Celtic manager Neil Lennon and some quality players, but the over 150M debt hanging over their head makes it hard to progress, although the current owner has said he’d wipe off the debt if a buyer can be found. That buyer will be vital in securing their future in the Championship.
SLIGHTLY INTERESTING STATS
The CHAMPIONSHIP has the highest draw percentage of the three divisions at 33%. L2 is 27$ and L1 24%. Four teams have 8 draws from 17 games including BRIGHTON (2nd) and BOLTON (last).
BRIGHTON have the longest unbeaten streak with 17, HULL CITY are next with 11. The season’s longest winning streak so far is 5 for HULL CITY and MIDDLESBROUGH. BOLTON are winless in 11 games, and have only won once.
As of this weekend only CHARLTON (2oth) are on a winning streak of more than one game (2). 2 of the 4 worst form teams (last 6 games) have already replaced their manager, proving a change in boss doesn’t always bring a change in fortunes – see HUDDERSFIELD and ROTHERHAM.
Sam Hutchinson from SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY has 9 Yellow Cards from 13 appearances including in every away game he has played this season.
The third tier has a top 6 full of surprising achievers including the likes of recently promoted Burton Albion, and lesser known footballing teams like Gillingham and Walsall. Whilst League One usually supplies a small team that overachieve for half a season, these three teams have been a fixture in the top six over the past few months, and promotion does not look beyond all of them.
Coventry are currently top, and whilst they are considered a bigger club, they haven’t been without drama since being relegated to League One in 2012. The 1987 FA Cup winners then suffered two consecutive seasons of 10 point deductions and haven’t yet finished higher than 15th since their arrival, and even had to play their games 50km in Northampton after a dispute with the owners of their home stadium. First at his time of year will be seen as some kind of achievement.
The other big team Sheffield United look destined for extended stay in League One. It was only in 2006-07 when they were sent down by West Ham and Carlos Tevez, a relegation they since received compensation for. But since their relegation to League One in 2011 they have been a marked side, the benchmark for all other teams. Only in the cups do they get a break, and have been hugely successful in recent seasons with the pressure off. But cup runs are one thing, and the expected exit upwards looks another year off at the moment.
SLIGHTLY INTERESTING STATS
Goals a-plenty in LEAGUE ONE with 39 and 40 from their last two rounds. An average of 3.3 per game.
PETERBOROUGH (7th) lead the way with an average of 3.8 goals per game this season.
BURTON (3rd) have seen goals at a miserly 1.7 goals a game.
COVENTRY (1st) have the longest current unbeaten run of 10 games. 1 shy of the season’s best of 11 by WIGAN.
PORT VALE are on a winning run of 4 games. BURY have the longest run this season with 6.
BLACKPOOL are on the longest losing streak with 5, but are still 3 behind BARNSLEY’s eight straight losses. BARNSLEY stopped that run last weekend only to lose again in midweek.
Northampton success despite it’s off field struggles is simply outstanding. During October 2015 a winding-up petition was launched by HM Revenue and Customs to recover unpaid taxes. This was after the staff and players weren’t paid during October, and a collection was taken when the Cobblers met their former tenants Coventry in the FA Cup first round in Coventry earlier in the month.
The big issue is what had happened with the £10.25 million loaned to the club to pay for the stadium redevelopment. The repayments to the Council had gone unpaid, just as the builders bills which left in return for all that money are minor works on the west stand, and floodlights. Despite all this Northampton sit third just two point behind leader Plymouth Argyle, and have the best form from the last 6 games with 5 wins and a draw. Such resilience in the face of drama deserves promotion.
SLIGHTLY INTERESTING STATS
LEAGUE TWO are only just behind the division above with an average of 3.0 goals per game from the past two rounds. Off field strugglers NORTHAMPTON (3rd) and previous on field strugglers NEWPORT (20th) have the longest current unbeaten run of 6 games.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE broke an 11 game winless streak midweek by beating WIMBLEDON. YORK (13) and YEOVIL (11) are now competing for worst winless run. Unsurprisingly, both are in the bottom two. YEOVIL are on five straight losses.
SUPER MULTI TIME
Here are our weekly and almost useful (read 3/4 leg specialist) multi tips.
$1 for $26
LEEDS to beat QPR
BLACKBURN to beat Sheffield Wednesday
MIDDLESBROUGH to beat Huddersfield
WOLVES to beat Milton Keynes
$1 for $61
CREWE ALEXANDRA to beat Oldham
COVENTRY to beat Doncaster
BRADFORD to beat Walsall
SHREWSBURY to beat Gillingham
$1 for $25
BARNET to beat Mansfield
ACCRINGTON STANLEY to beat York
NORTHAMPTON to beat Yeovil
OXFORD to beat Hartlepool
LEYTON ORIENT to beat Wimbledon