Just one more formality to get out of the way for the Footballing season, no it’s not the Champions League final, pfffft, who cares. It’s all about the big weekend of glory for the three lower divisions of the Football League. Playoff finals are ready to go, and glory and new surroundings, and in the case of the Championship playoff winner – a shitload of money awaits.
A few stats before we move on. All finals feature the team who qualified in the lowest position on the ladder with Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, and AFC Wimbledon all on the last rung of the playoffs heading in. Two of the three sides also defeated sides which missed out on automatic promotion on the final day and for that extra goal or two could have gone up straight away rather than another season in the same league.
If you wanted to catch up on what happened before and believe our predictions then catch up here.
UK SAT 5PM – AUS SUN 2AM
Time for the big game of the weekend, a match worth anywhere between 150 and 300 Millions dollars if you believe all or any of the reports. Whatever the official figure, it is a licence to print and burn money as the riches of the EPL await.
Sheffield Wednesday are the surprise finalists, seeing off Brighton who were only 1 goal off joining the EPL in the regular season. The owls haven’t been in the top flight since 2000, and have even dropped into the third tier twice since, so it would be a better story for the neutral to have a long lost side back into the EPL.
Hull have proved how much of an advantage the relegated teams get. Whilst most teams have to comply with Financial Fair Play (although a bunch of recent promotees prove that you can cheat the FFP and get promoted with minimal consequences, just a fine which getting promoted covers anyway) the relegated teams get the parachute payment, some bigger than other Football League club’s budgets. Although you can do a terrible job, see QPR, but on the whole if you prepare early, buy and sell wisely you are ahead of the game. Not that Hull don’t deserve to be there, they just get it slightly easier than most clubs. And that is without the huge clubs like Aston Villa and Newcastle coming down next year.
WHO WILL WIN?
Due to stubbornness in a prediction we made in an article of ours that Fox Sports published in February, we predicted Hull to go through with Burnley and Middlesbrough, and to preserve the chance of 100% success rate we’re on board with Hull. However, Sheffield Wednesday would be the nicer story due to the length of time they’ve been away from the top flight, and their journey which has involved a few trips down to the third tier.
Score HULL 2-1 within 90 mins.
UK SUN 3PM – AUS MON 12AM
The middle child of the Football League, sometime overlooked, and again this time with the potential spoils for the Championship and the feel good story of AFC Wimbledon below.
But promotion from League One is the first step of redemption for both clubs recently relegated from the Championship, Millwall last year and Barnsley the year before. Barnsley are the most surprising of the two as they thrashed third placed Walsall in both legs to get to Wembley, Millwall won the first leg convincingly and could afford a second leg draw.
A hard one to pick, hopefully Millwall fans don’t give the headline writers ammunition similar to their last trip to Wembley.
WHO WILL WIN?
We’ve said Millwall in our preview to the playoffs, and we still say Millwall, although the 6-1 aggregate form of Barsnley is tempting. But the record of fourth place through the playoff finals is also gold.
MILLWALL 1-0 in Extra Time
We have to show our bias here towards AFC Wimbledon, but have a read of our previous Wimbledon story here, and you’ll see it is a great footballing interest story. There’s also the story of the big man, the man they call The Beast – Adebayo Akinfenwa. The man who looks more suited to a scrum than a six yard box, can be deceptive as he has the silkiest of skills, and matched with the mammoth brute power and a generous, fun attitude, he is a real Gurgler favourite, and has been the difference in both games of the semi finals. We hope he has one more great game in him.
Plymouth’s progress has been lost under the AFC Wimbledon hype, and the fact that their series finished some time ago. Will that break help, who knows. They’ll think they should be higher than they are, as we can even remember seeing a game at Portman Road featuring Plymouth and zero goals. Having got past a similar club in geography and finance in Portsmouth in the semis and deserve a promotion almost as much as Wimbledon.
WHO WILL WIN?
Has to be AFC Wimbledon, one for the dreamers. Goals to The Beast would really get us excited.
AFC Wimbledon 2-0 in 90 mins.
That’s it for the season thus far. We’ve enthralled at least two people across the season. And will be back bigger and well, not better, next year when the Football League takes top dog status on Fox Sports with the new BeIn Sports deal.