Blackpool joined by PNE, Blackburn and possibly Burnley and Wigan? Next season's Championship could be tasty

Without wanting to talk down Blackpool’s admittedly slim chances of reaching the Championship play-offs, next season’s division is shaping up to be a tasty one.

Friday, 25th March 2022, 10:00 am

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Where Blackpool rank in the Championship's fair play table

You’ve got Burnley scrapping for their lives in the bottom three of the Premier League, four points adrift of safety with 11 games to go.

I’m not writing them off by any means, but it’s been some run for Sean Dyche’s side, hasn’t it? Six straight seasons in the top flight, a European campaign, a state-of-the-art training facility…

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Their success should give clubs like Blackpool belief and inspiration that they can replicate a similar trajectory.

Even if Burnley do drop down, they appear - from the outside, at least - to have done things sensibly and have built the foundations for the long-term - the exact opposite of the Oystons’ approach with the Seasiders.

For purely selfish reasons, I’d love it if Burnley were in the Championship next season. Can you imagine a division with the Seasiders, Preston North End, Burnley and Blackburn Rovers?

And then you’ve got Wigan Athletic on the cusp of promotion from League One to add into the mix as well.

Could Blackpool renew their rivalry with Burnley in the Championship next season?

It’s just a shame Ian Evatt and his Bolton Wanderers side aren’t a little closer to the play-offs in the third tier, otherwise we’d have a potential dream scenario on our hands.

Do we even dare to mention Everton? Whether they like it or not, the Toffees are right in the thick of it down at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

Is Frank Lampard the right man to get them out of it? I have my doubts. They appear to have a squad of talented players that don’t have the stomach for a fight.

It’s hard to imagine Everton playing their football in the second tier, not least because they’ve played at the top level continuously since 1954. Since the club’s creation in 1888, they’ve played in the top flight for all but four seasons.

Given the Goodison Park outfit have just posted eye-watering losses of £252m over the past two seasons, relegation would be potentially ruinous for them.

What a time to be building a glossy new 53,000-seater stadium on Bramley-Moore Dock, eh?

But I’m all for a heavily North-West based Championship next season, I must say. It would certainly soften the blow of Norwich City coming down (again!) and Plymouth Argyle being in the mix for the play-offs the level below.

I’m sure Simon Sadler will have different ideas, but I’m quite happy for Blackpool to remain in the Championship.

Feel free to accuse me of showing a lack of ambition, but I have no particular appetite for the circus of the Premier League, the last minute kick-off changes, the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, the general disregard for football supporters.

You only have to look at the recent furore over the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Liverpool, which will be clouded by travel chaos given there are no trains running to Euston from the North West.

The FA don’t care though, do they? They’ll charge a princely sum for a ticket and completely ignore the troubles fans of both clubs will face attempting to make it to the capital.

What’s worse is that Network Rail made the FA aware of these major engineering works TWO years ago, so it’s not like it’s just crept up on them at the final moment.

So it begs the question why the FA ploughed ahead with its plans to stage the game at Wembley - which shouldn’t even be the case for a semi-final as it is - and move it to a more accessible location. The reason probably has something to do with money, as it usually does.

The matter was raised in parliament on Wednesday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also backed calls for an independent regulator in football (which means it will probably never happen).

We’re still hearing from plenty of high-profile names that independence is not required and football could and should be governed by the FA, as long as they have the right people in charge.

But they haven’t up to now, so why do we expect it to change any time soon? They’ve shown no willingness whatsoever to get involved and make the necessary changes to sort out the problems in our game, problems that have been painstakingly obvious for decades now.

While the EFL got it in the neck from Blackpool fans during the boycott years, and deservedly so, they shouldn’t be the organisation responsible for football governance either. They only look after three divisions for a start, so you can’t have one lot of rules for the teams in the Premier League and the different tiers of non-league to those in the Championship, League One and League Two.

The people in charge can’t be trusted to look after the welfare of our game, the recent fallout from the Chelsea debacle and the likes of Newcastle United being allowed to be owned and influenced by states has only proven that.

But it shouldn’t have got to that point in the first place, the writing was on the wall a long time ago thanks to one crisis after another, whether it be at Blackpool, Bury, Derby County, Wigan Athletic or elsewhere. The list of clubs that have been negatively affected by rogue owners is endless when you get into it.

The game needs to be taken away from them and put in trustworthy hands. It’s far too important not to be.