Would relegation be a good thing for Ipswich Town?
DO the Blues need to take a step back in order to ultimately move forward?
For the second year in succession, Ipswich begin the second half of the campaign very much in a relegation dogfight.
Monday’s dismal 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest leaves them just three points above the drop zone following a return of just seven points from a possible 36.
The last time Ipswich were in the third tier of English football was when Sir Alf Ramsey was appointed manager back in 1957.
And it’s now got to the stage where supporters are so fed up with a decade-long stagnation in the Championship, a section of them have bombarded this website with the view that relegation could be just what is needed to galvanise the club.
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That view is probably based on the turn-around in fortunes at Norwich and Southampton in recent years.
When the pair were both relegated in 2009 it marked the first time they had been in the third tier for 49 and 50 years respectively. The Saints went into administration, while the Canaries avoided it by just hours.
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It forced an overhaul at board and managerial level at both clubs, an upturn in results followed and – with crowds flocking back to see the return of winning football at their clubs – a feel-good factor was reborn.
Norwich of course went on to claim back-to-back promotions, while Southampton – promoted at the second time of asking – currently lead the way in the Championship.
Sadly, though, it’s not that black and white. Just ask any Charlton, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest supporter about their experiences in League One. Quickly bouncing back is far from an inevitability.
Town captain Grant Leadbitter admitted this week that “no team is too big to go down”. To further that analogy, no team – however big – is guaranteed to come straight back up either.
Would relegation be the spark that Ipswich Town need to ultimately move forwards? A drop down to League One has certainly had varying impacts on other clubs with big histories, as STUART WATSON and CHRIS BRAMMER report.
The Canaries were relegated to the third tier for the first time in 49 years in 2008/09. A 7-1 home humbling to Colchester United followed on the opening day of the League One season, manager Paul Lambert was lured from the U’s as a result and incredibly back-to-back promotions to the Premier League followed.
Chris Lakey, Eastern Daily Press journalist, said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but relegation and that 7-1 defeat to Colchester may have been the best thing that could have happened to the club.
“It forced a change in ownership, a change in manager and brought a completely fresh feel to the club.
“The manager went out and found young, hungry players and crowds actually went up because supporters loved seeing a winning team again.
“That said, things could have been very different. The club came within hours of going into administration when they were relegated and if that had happened who knows where they would be now?”
The Saints were relegated to the third tier for the first time in 50 years in 2008/09. A 10-point deduction for administration saw them miss out on promotion first time around, but they stormed to promotion last season. Nigel Adkins’ side currently top the Championship table.
Southampton Echo reporter Gordon Simpson said: “Relegation and administration was a very dark time for the club, but looking back now fans are beginning to see it as a positive.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a course of action I would recommend, but going down and coming back up has certainly made the club stronger. It brought new ownership and some major momentum to the club.”
The Foxes were relegated to the third tier for the first time in their history in 2007/08. They bounced back straight away as champions though and made the play-offs the very next season.
The Midlands outfit were relegated to the third-tier of English football in 2005, for the first time in 54 years, and became the first former European Cup winners to fall into their domestic third division. It took them three attempts to get back into the Championship.
Paul Taylor, journalist at the Nottingham Evening Post, said: “There was certainly a presumption amongst Forest fans that the Reds would bounce back straight away, but they learnt quite quickly that it would not be the piece of cake that everyone expected.
“The crowds at the City Ground did not drop massively but the supporters did get impatient and frustrated quite quickly if things were not going their way.
“From a financial point of view, Forest were in a fairly rare situation as they were bankrolled by one man, former chairman Nigel Doughty. He was happy to put in a minimum of �12m a year just to cover the club’s losses although the club did make some non-footballing redundancies.
“Forest eventually returned to the second-tier in 2008 but even then they only squeaked automatic promotion on the final day of the season after results went for them.
“If they were to go down again this season, I think relegation would have a bigger impact.”
The Addicks were relegated to League in 2009, just two years after losing their status in the Premier League. Currently leading League One, Chris Powell’s look certain to return to the Championship at the third time of asking.
Paul Green, sports editor at the News Shopper, said: “When they were first relegated to League One, the club was able to keep most of the squad from the Championship together, despite there not being much money at the club. It was a gamble.
“Charlton Athletic lost to Swindon in the semi-finals of the play-offs in that first season meaning they had to get rid of most of the high earners. It was essential for the club to keep their heads above the water as administration was talked about at one stage.
“Last season was a transitional one, with Phil Parkinson sacked as manage, a takeover completed and new investment pumped into the club.
“Money does play a big part in getting out of League One, but I would also say that team-work is just as important and that has played a big part this season too.”
The Owls were relegated to League One in 2003 and again in 2010. They won promotion back to the Championship in 2005 but have endured rocky times both on and off the pitch since dropping from the Premier League in 2000.
Paul Thompson, reporter at the Sheffield Star, said: “The club returned to League One in real trouble off the pitch and it was only after Milan Mandaric’s takeover that the financial problems came home to roost.
“It all went wrong around the start of the new year when Wednesday slipped from second in the table and eventually finished 15th. The team were simply not good enough.
“Teams certainly raise their games against Wednesday. Walsall, who have been struggling this season proved that on Boxing Day, scoring two goals in injury-time in front of one of their biggest crowds of the season and a great atmosphere.
“It’s not plain sailing getting out of League One.”
The former top-flight champions went from being Champions League semi-finallists to a League One side in just seven seasons. The Yorkshire side took three attempts to get back into the Championship, losing in the play-offs in their first two seasons before finishing second in 2009/10.