Time for Portsmouth become the leapfroggers as Blackpool and Lincoln join clubs who've accelerated quicker after League Two promotion

The League One shackles are still to be removed.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 5:44 pm
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 6:00 pm

Pompey remain locked in the dungeons of the third tier in what's beginning to feel like a perpetual existence.

Fans who'd earmarked May 30 as a potential return to Wembley for the play-off final could make that date clear after the Blues season ended in meek fashion with a final-day loss to Accrington.

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Since dramatically claiming the League Two crown on the final day of the 2016-17 season, the Blues have yet to kick on to the next level.

Granted, there have been two play-off defeats, an EFL Trophy triumph and another loss in the final.

And off the pitch, Pompey have an owner in Michael Eisner who’s been footing multi-million pound debts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. No stafff redundancies deserves huge plaudits.

But in terms of what supporters covet the most, it's yet to be delivered. A Championship return continues to tantalise.

Marcus Harness dejected after Pompey failed to make the League One play-offs following defeat to Accrington. picture: Joe Pepler

To rub salt in the wound, there have been clubs who have accelerated beyond the Blues and made it to the second tier swifter.

Luton, Wycombe and Coventry were all promoted from League Two the year after Pompey.

The Hatters finished runners-up before claiming the third-tier title the following season, having trailed Kenny Jackett's side for half of it.

Now Nathan Jones' outfit are planning for a third successive term in the Championship, after claiming 12th this time around.

Paul Cook celebrates Pompey's League Two title triumph in 2017. Picture: Joe Pepler

Wycombe clinched third spot in League Two before they went up to the Championship for the first time in the club's history via the play-offs last year.

The Chairboys have suffered immediate relegation but managed to avoid the drop until the very final day of the season.

Meanwhile, Coventry will be delighted with their maiden campaign back in the second tier.

Having won the League Two play-off final in 2018, they finished top of League One last term before consolidating in the Championship this time around with a 16th-place finish.

It can even be argued that whichever team is triumphant in Saturday's play-off final will leapfrog Pompey in terms of on-field progress.

That case can certainly be made for Lincoln, who won the National League under Danny Cowley the same season as Paul Cook guided the Blues to glory.

Blackpool went up from the Football League's doldrums the same year at Pompey, although they required the play-offs. The Seasiders finished seventh and 17 points below Cook’s men.

As head coach, Cowley’s chief remit is to guide Pompey back to the division where everyone would agree the club belongs. The thorough planning and recruitment is under way now.

And to do that, it means no longer getting vaulted by the likes of Crewe, Accrington and Cheltenham who’ve joined them in League One afterwards.