Portsmouth boss reveals harsh reality of battling Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic and Charlton Athletic for players and place in Championship
Danny Cowley believes Pompey are facing the toughest League One in more than a decade as they aim to reach the Championship at the fifth attempt.
And the head coach believes the size of the task faced by his side is underlined by big-spending rivals offering to pay targets DOUBLE what the Blues’ top earner receives this summer.
That reality is an insight into how much some sides are prepared to push their financial boundaries in search of a place in the second tier.
The likes of Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic have been taken over and received cash injections as they carry out their recruitment work.
Sheffield Wednesday remain under a transfer embargo, but are said to be very competitive in what they are offering potential targets after dropping out of the Championship.
Sunderland’s playing budget is still reportedly more than double Pompey’s, while the likes of Charlton Athletic and even Shrewsbury have shown they are ready to spend to be competitive next term.
Cowley sees the way the transfer market is shaping up and the size of the clubs in the division pointing to a stacked promotion chase next term.
He said: ‘I do think it’s going to be a really competitive league.
‘There’s a number of clubs with new owners, there’s some big clubs who’ve been relegated and lived off Championship money.
‘There are players who’ve been on Championship money with Championship competence and experience coming down to League One.
‘There’s players in our league who we would have liked to have signed who will be on double our top earner.
‘That’s where it is at the minute - and we do have a really competitive budget.
‘So we’re anticipating a really tough league.
‘It looks like it’s going to be the toughest League One in many years.’
When assessing the division, Cowley believes you have to go back to the start of the last decade to find a third tier comparable to the upcoming season in size of its depth.
The 2009-10 campaign saw an incredibly tough league containing the likes of Leeds United, Norwich City, Millwall and Southampton.
Cowley sees next term being comparable in terms of competitiveness.
He added: ‘I was looking back and trying to think when League One has been this competitive in the past 12 years or so.
‘There was Wigan and Blackburn (in 2018), but there was then a significant drop to Shrewsbury in third and the rest.
‘So we’re under no illusions how tough this is going to be.
‘But the best things in life are never easy are they? Otherwise they wouldn’t be the best things.
‘We know how big the challenge is in front of us and we’re looking forward to it.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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