The crisis clubs giving Portsmouth hope amid the gloom of another League One disappointment
At a time when positive news has been in short supply, it’s a crumb of comfort to be cherished.
Pompey now know who they will be facing as they aim to scramble out of League One at the fourth attempt.
And, just maybe, the footballing gods have been kind to the Blues following a dramatic final evening of action in the second tier.
The very real fear remains there will be a significant cost to Kenny Jackett’s side missing out on the play-offs against Oxford United.
With the prospect of a League One wage cap suffocating finances, the expectation is we are soon going to be seeing a levelling of the playing field in the division Pompey will once again be operating in.
That field in the 2019-20 campaign undoubtedly represented one of the best opportunities to get out of one of the weakest League One line-ups in recent years. It wasn’t taken.
A look at both the Championship relegation dogfight and promoted League Two clubs pointed towards a stiffening of opposition, as and when the battle recommences on the pitch.
But the remarkable events and results pulled off by the likes Barnsley and Luton may just offer a glimmer of hope for Pompey fans.
Because the reality is, as things stand, the division is welcoming three clubs in varying degrees of turmoil next season.
Wigan, Charlton and Hull are the trio coming down at this moment in time.
The Latics fans are understandably feeling sore about that fact, as their 12-point deduction for falling into administration amid questionable circumstances put paid to their survival hopes.
Charlton’s 4-0 hammering at Leeds left boss Lee Bowyer shellshocked as his men were pulled into the drop zone. The Addicks’ affairs off the pitch continue to dominate, however, as they find themselves under the stewardship of a third owner in a season.
Owners East Street Investments are the subject of an ongoing EFL investigation, while Bowyer has alluded to continuing difficulties behind the scenes at The Valley.
Meanwhile, Hull City find themselves branded a crisis club with players being sold, the local paper banned, the club’s owners and manager Grant McCann in the firing line of angry fans and recently suffering a club-record equalling 8-0 defeat to Wigan.
Whether they will be the three Championship sides Pompey will take on next season remains to be seen, however.
Both Derby and Sheffield Wednesday are facing disciplinary action for alleged breaches of the EFL’s financial rules, with points deductions a possible outcome.
A decision is expected over the Owls’ case in the coming days while Derby’s is anticipated to continue into next season. Wigan have a hearing over their 12-point deduction at the end of the month.
There’s little doubt that Plymouth, Swindon, Crewe and Northampton coming into the division in place of three teams - Tranmere, Southend and Bolton - after Bury’s expulsion stiffens up the division. Then there’s the likes of Peterborough, Sunderland and Ipswich still in the race.
But the issues which run deep at the sides coming down hint at problems which won’t be easily solved. And, in a period when the gloom still hangs over PO4 after missing out on promotion, their pain may just be a small mercy for Pompey.
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