Stockport: That was never a penalty!
Town fan Nick Judd on Stockport's controversial 'punishment' two days before the end of the season...
IÃ¢ÂÂm surprised Swindon Town will be starting next yearÃ¢ÂÂs League One campaign on a level playing field with Stockport County.
IÃ¢ÂÂm not referring to the fact that we secured our safety with a 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers last week, but the news that County entered administration on Thursday, only to be Ã¢ÂÂpunishedÃ¢ÂÂ with a 10-point deduction this season.
The points deduction, youÃ¢ÂÂll find, sees them plummet to one place above the drop-zone. However, as a result of their 4-3 win against Crewe last weekend Ã¢ÂÂ and better goal difference Ã¢ÂÂ they can Ã¢ÂÂt go down (barring a final day massacre).
The knock-on effect is that theyÃ¢ÂÂll survive the drop and start next season level pegging with the rest of us, with their debt managed by administrators. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs one pretty big kick in the teeth for all of those clubs Ã¢ÂÂ Swindon included Ã¢ÂÂ trying to run their businesses prudently.
Putting the edge in Edgeley
IÃ¢ÂÂm no advocate of the points-deduction process. If this rule was applied 10 years ago IÃ¢ÂÂd dread to think where Swindon would be, having gone into administration twice. Ultimately itÃ¢ÂÂs the players and fans punished and not those responsible for mismanagement.
But if these are the rules, then they need to be applied evenly to all clubs. IÃ¢ÂÂm sure Southampton will have something to say about StockportÃ¢ÂÂs situation. HereÃ¢ÂÂs what the Football League website reported after the Saints went into administration:
Ã¢ÂÂThe Board concluded that an administrator had been appointed in respect of the Club or part of its undertaking or assets. Accordingly, it was left with no alternative other than to invoke its 'Sporting Sanctions' regulations and apply a 10-point penalty to the Club. The other provisions of The League's insolvency policy also become effective.
"As the insolvency event occurred after The Football League's deadline of the fourth Thursday in March, the points deduction will take effect either: in the current season, if Southampton avoid relegation to League One; or next season, if the club does not avoid relegation.Ã¢ÂÂ
This meant that whatever happened, Southampton would be playing League One football in 2009/10.
And hereÃ¢ÂÂs their statement after Stockport entered administration:
Ã¢ÂÂFollowing the announcement that Stockport County Football Club has gone into administration, The Football League can confirm that a 10-point Sporting Sanction applies with immediate effect in accordance with the Regulations agreed by Football League Clubs.Ã¢ÂÂ
This means that Stockport are pretty much guaranteed League One football, too, but in this case itÃ¢ÂÂs hardly a case of Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ¦the most severe penaltyÃ¢ÂÂ.
Is it too much to ask to have some consistency Ã¢ÂÂ and with it, motivation for club owners to run their clubs properly?
Officials of two sides already in the League One drop zone Ã¢ÂÂ Crewe and Hereford Ã¢ÂÂ slammed the decision on Friday, irked that the Hatters can effectively start next season with a clean slate, despite entering administration.
Has Jim Gannon been given cheques his club can't cash?
"All I would say is that it is unfair because it looks as though Stockport have been spending money they do not have and then they get someone else to pay their debts off," Alex boss Gudjon Thordarson told the club's official website.
"They have gone through the season doing that and those clubs that keep their finances in control are the ones penalised at the end of it. Crewe is a good club and they do things the right way. They don't do anything if they cannot afford it and that is the way it should be. For Stockport to go into administration on the eve of the final game, knowing that the points deduction won't really affect them, is not right."
Bulls chairman and Director of Football Graham Turner, who stood down from the manager's role last week after failing to keep his side away from relegation, believes clubs who enter administration should be demoted a division as punishment.
"Any club going into administration should be automatically relegated," he told his club's official website. "It's too easy for clubs to get themselves into trouble by spending money they haven't got. Stockport are a case in point.
"Jim Gannon had assembled a very good squad of players, but clearly they could not afford them. They've survived in League One, and they will now probably wipe out most of their debts and start again. I think that is grossly unfair to those who pay their taxes on time.
"The 10-point penalty is not sufficient to deter directors from running clubs irresponsibly. It is a big disadvantage in many cases to run a club correctly like we have done. Our relegation is probably down to the fact that we didn't spend money we haven't got."
League One in 2009/10
On a brighter note...
With Southampton and Charlton already demoted from the Championship, and Norwich set to join them this weekend, itÃ¢ÂÂs going to be a year of good/big games that arenÃ¢ÂÂt too far to get to for us Robins next season.
You can add Brentford and possibly Wycombe into that mix as well, which are both good away days. Wycombe have always seen us as something of a derby, while BrentfordÃ¢ÂÂs ground provides the opportunity to go on a pub crawl without leaving the vicinity of the stadium!
If Leeds stay down, next season League One will have the appearance of a Premier League from yesteryear, which just goes to show how strong the Football League is these days.