Grimsby fan Ian Rodwell discusses why his side have been relegated for the second successive season
What were the main reasons for your relegation?
We were relegated because of bad management throughout the club. In recent years Grimsby have been run as a hobby instead of as a business. Having been relegated the previous season we kept our inexperienced manager Paul Groves, obviously out of his depth, until March, then appointed his assistant, Graham Rodger, who won a few games. He was then replaced by Nicky Law – who had no idea at all, managing three wins in 12 matches. The club needs strong leadership, something the chairman, Peter Furneaux, is incapable of providing.
After failing to win promotion back to Division Two, Martin Brodetsky tells how Oxford United face another season in a "god-awful" league
What was behind the sudden departure of Ian Atkins?
Atkins was suspended after Bristol Rovers chairman Geoff Dunning revealed Atkins would be the Gas’s manager next season. Many fans don’t blame Atkins for seeking job security, but feel he should have had the confidence to stay with United, where his contract apparently had an automatic one-year extension if he won promotion. On the other hand, Rovers offered him a two-year deal, probably on more money, and promotion wasn’t guaranteed. Most fans were happy to see the back of Atkins and his deeply unpopular, boring defensive tactics.
Bury are dropping through the leagues and fast. Chris Bainbridge explains why his club are struggling so badly, and how the somehow managed to avoid relegation to the Conference this term
Bury have had a dramatic decline in the past three years or so. What are the main reasons for this?
Money, money and money – a lack of it. Bury’s surge to Division One was bankrolled by millionaire stockbroker Hugh Eaves, but then he got caught up in a scandal. We were forced to sell a raft of good players (such as Dean Kiely, Paul Butler and David Johnson) just to keep going. Two relegations and a spell in administration later, we’re now well on the way to rebuilding ourselves as a community-based club through the “Forever Bury” supporters’ trust. But we now know through bitter experience the dangers of relying on one person. Chelsea beware...
Bristol City supporter Mo Davies assesses the standard of League Two and how the rivalry with relegated Rovers is sorely missed
What have been your best and worst moments?
The best moments are few and far between. I have seen us in the top flight but was a bit young to appreciate it fully. I could revel in Freight Rover/LDV successes, but the promotion seasons have been ultimately more satisfying. The best of which was 1989-90, with Bob Taylor and Robbie Turner terrorising defences up and down the country, including dumping Chelsea out of the FA Cup. The worst was definitely 1982: the club almost went of business and were relegated to Division Four.
Having watched Conference football since 1997, Hereford United fan Richard Butler is eager for his team to escape non-League and once again compete with their Welsh rivals
Could Hereford’s gates increase significantly if they made it back into the Football League?
When we first broke into the Fourth Division in the 1970s, the club regularly drew crowds of 10,000, an astonishing figure for a town Hereford’s size, and we would once again be the only League club for about 50 miles in any direction. But sadly, 25 years of mostly mediocrity has made many folk cynical about the club. However, council plans for redevelopment of the “Edgar Street Grid” are in the pipeline, which could secure the long-term future of the club and may even mean a new stadium.
Despite only recently joining England's elite in the Premier League, Birmingham City are a club with big ambitions. Blues supporter Kenneth Jones explains why their rivalry with Villa has been all the more intense recently and why the rapid increase in ticket prices has dissuaded some supporters
Could City’s crowds get much bigger than now?
Undoubtedly. City have big local support and, since promotion, more season-ticket holders than Villa. With the team on the up, the only problem might be the mystifying decision to increase standard ticket prices by £10, meaning tickets for games which would have been rapid sell-outs last year have been available on general sale leading up to the match. Any increase in crowd sizes is also constrained by the 30,000 capacity at St Andrew’s, but many would agree there is little point having a brand new £12 million main stand in Division One.
Alun Rogers on promotion, Cup upsets and having big red neighbours
Are home crowds as big as they could get?
Attendances have long been a sore point. It can’t help having Manchester and Liverpool a leisurely 45 minutes away, but the town and outlying population have been expanding at an incredible rate over the past ten years. The inhabitants display a keen affection for Poundland-style shops; it might just be a cheapskate attitude that afflicts attendances.
Haydn Parry looks at Gillingham's recent ups and downs
What’s the current state of the relationship between Gillingham fans and the club’s owner?
Paul Scally brought a much needed businessman’s approach when he took us out of receivership in 1995 and has had nothing but relative success since, with the rise to Division One for the first time. Priestfield has also been transformed and is no longer a Victorian curiosity-cum-health hazard. But he has a propensity for PR gaffes: banning for life the unofficial supporters’ club president and maintaining the feud in his programme notes; or changing the home kit from blue to white – a decision swiftly reversed after the fans got restless.
Doug Stenhouse sheds some light on the colourful history of Berwick Rangers
How would you assess the playing standard in Scottish Division Two?
The standard is certainly better in Division One, with some full-time squads. However, clubs such as Clyde have done well with part-timers. It’s possible most Second Division boards are happy to stay where they are, knowing all too well that higher standards mean higher salaries they can ill afford.
Jon Matthias on the Shrews
Kevin Ratcliffe carried the can for last season’s relegation – was this unfair?
No. It was his team, his tactics and his persistence with players who were blatantly unfit and were not getting any fitter that saw us relegated. Our defence, his apparent field of expertise, was appalling. I think the board and many fans were afraid of being too negative so nothing was said until it was too late. In March, chief executive Keith Sayfritz commented that this season was “not as bad” as the Great Escape season of 2000. That sort of misplaced optimism is why it ended up so much worse.