Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Talking Points - February

Here's what the lads have had to say for themselves during the month of February 2010:

Quick off the Mark
With Peterborough sacking boss Mark Cooper after less than three months in the job, Nobes explains why the future can still be bright for Posh.

Championship Focus
As the business end of the season approaches, the lads take their first look at the state of play across the divisions- starting with the Championship.

Bantams' wait a shining example
Nobes on why Stuart McCall's reign and resignation as Bradford boss is an example to all other clubs and managers.

Wilder the Don for Oxford
Oxford are top of the Conference Premier and on course for a return to the Football League. Nobes reflects upon the Oxen's revival.

League One Focus
Turning the spotlight on the events happening in League One. Who's gunning for promotion? Which sides are fighting for a play-off spot, and who are battling against the drop?

League Two Focus
Who's leading the way for promotion from the basement division and whose Football League status is on the line? All the drama from League Two.

Conference Focus
Checking in with the Blue Square Premier to see what's happening in the race for the Football League and who's in trouble towards the bottom?

Conference North/South Focus
Who's in the race for a place in the Conference Premier, and who's struggling to avoid the drop? All the latest from both the Conference North and South.

Notts dream never rang Trew
Sven's gone, the money's gone, the dream's gone - Turls on the possible beginning of the nightmare for Notts County.

Parachute Payments
With the top two in the Championship relegated from the top flight last season, the lads discuss the controversial topic of parachute payements.

Against All Odds
Nobes on how League Two's overachievers are giving hope to smaller teams at all levels of the game.

The Stagnation Game
Lakes on supporting a side who stay in the same division for an extended period - and the effects it can have.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Stagnation Game

As things stand, League Two could have a very different look about it next season.

That's because its two longest-serving members - Rochdale and Darlington - are both on course to be playing in different divisions next term.

So, with that in mind, added to Preston being on course for an 11th consecutive year in the Championship next season,
Lakes discusses supporting a stagnated side, and the effect it can have on a club.

We came, we saw, we conquered. It's a mantra familiar to all football fans who have watched their teams win automatic promotion to the next league up. The world of football is alight, the game has been beaten. Checkmate.

Some sides get promoted and realise the game hasn't been won at all. The game is just beginning and the real battle is against relegation. Some sides continue their impetuous drives and win promotion again.

Fans are treated to exciting fooball, whether going up or down, and the prospect of a thrilling season.

Then there's a third category: the purgatorial teams who sit somewhere in the ether between promotion and relegation.

They may flirt with both prospects, but ultimately have found their level. Too much depth to go down, not enough quality to go up.

Teams like Rochdale, Darlington, Oldham, Macclesfield, Lincoln, Burnley - until last season - and my very own Preston North End fit into this category.

For fans of these teams, it all comes down to buying a ticket for the league lottery and hoping for the best every season.

Without external investment they won't have the funds to go up and, with a squad of established players at their level, they probably won't go down.

So what's wrong with that? Surely when Preston were promoted to the Championship, that was the aim? To establish yourself at a higher level.

But priorities change so frequently in football. Fans are as greedy as chairmen and get stroppy if their side isn't pushing for the next level, even if they are not ready for it.

Preston fans have seen their side playing in the same division for the last 10 years

And herein lies a big problem. Fans. While chairmen, directors, and players may be happy to see their income stay at a predictable, safe level, fans will always be pushing for more money to be spent.

They're more fickle these days, driven on by the incessant TV footage of Premier League bigwig footballers masterbating into silver cups. Success is everything, and time waits for no man.

In some ways, being established helps.

For Preston, the longest serving members of the highest tier outside the Premier League, it offers the opportunity for seniority in the game and implies an established club, which up and coming players can rely on for a safe season and first team football.

Managers and players can both treat it as a stepping stone at which to achieve greatness before moving on, and in a way that's what Preston have always done.

But for every manager that moves on, the dream of shaking John Terry's hand or stroking Peter Crouch off in the bath at full time becomes more distant.

The team stagnates, falls backwards again in an inexorable cycle of peaks and troughs. Normality resumes, and the club's level becomes quickly apparent again.

For me, it's fine. We get to play good sides in a competitve league. Why do we need more than that?

Mind you, tossing off Peter Crouch in the bath does sound good.

Prediction League Week 30

Week 29 turned out to be a very good one for Nobes who, with Boston's game postponed, collected a maximum six points out of six to boost his title chances.

A last minute goal leaked by Preston saw him gain two spot-ons and close the gap on Turls to just a single point.

Could he displace the long-term leader during Week 30?

Leicester City vs. Nottingham Forest

Lakes: Leicester City 2-2 Forest
Leicester City 1-1 Forest
Leicester City 2-0 Forest

Preston North End vs. Cardiff City

Lakes: PNE 1-1 Cardiff City
PNE 1-2 Cardiff City
PNE 1-0 Cardiff City

Boston United vs. Ossett Town

Lakes: Skyrockets 3-1 Ossett Town
Skyrockets 3-1 Ossett Town
Skyrockets 3-0 Ossett Town

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Big Match Preview

League One
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Exeter City
Saturday February 27, 15:00, Withdean Stadium

It promises to be a nervy afternoon for all involved at the Withdean Stadium this weekend as Brighton host fellow strugglers Exeter in a relegation six pointer.

The hosts moved out of the bottom four with their surprise 2-1 win at Charlton in midweek, however they remain just two points above the drop zone - in which the Grecians find themselves.

It was a welcome victory for Gus Poyet's side and came off the back of a creditable 1-1 draw at Leeds last weekend. Indeed, the Sussex outfit have the fourth most impressive away record in the division.

It's their form at their Withdean Stadium home which has really let them down this season however.

Just two wins and nine points have been garnered from on home soil so far this term - a record Poyet will be keen to improve upon against Exeter.

The Uruguayan took over as Albion manager in November after the departure of Russell Slade. However, he's been unable to steer the club away from a second successive fight against the drop to League Two.

Despite their woes though, in Glenn Murray and Nicky Forster, Brighton have two strikers who have got into doubled figures on the scoring charts.

With one of the leakiest defences in the division though, it's not hard to see where the Seagulls need to improve if they are to beat the drop once again.

Brighton's rookie manager Gus Poyet is in a relegation battle in League One

That ambition to stave off relegation is shared by their opponents this weekend. Exeter were promoted from League Two last May and have found the step-up in quality a difficult one.

Paul Tisdale's side have particularly struggled on the road with just two wins being gained from their 16 games away from St James Park.

After their midweek game against Bristol Rovers was postponed, City come into the game in poor form, still with only one win in 2010. Surprisingly though, this came against high-flying Leeds.

It's a sign that the Devon club do have the quality on their day to pull out results, but their surprise loss to rock-bottom Stockport is evidence of their inconsistency.

Goalscoring has been the Grecians's biggest problem this term with former Hereford man Adam Stansfield their top scorer with just eight goals.

Other threats going forward for Exeter include forwards Richard Logan and Barry Corr and midfielder Ryan Harley.

The visiting side will certainly be the fresher of two teams seeking to improve upon poor home and away records respectively.

However, their recent results will have given Brighton a huge boost in confidence and with the psychological advantage of being above their hosts, Albion can edge this six-pointer.

Nobes' Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Exeter City 1

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Irreverence is the name of the game here at Soccer AM/MW, which is why we bring you our gallery of footballing lookalikes.

If you have your own suggestions to add to our gallery, drop us an email at: soccerammw@gmail.com

Wednesday manager Alan Irvine and Craggy Island's Father Ted

Ex-Shrewsbury boss Gary Peters and Corrie painkiller addict Joe McIntyre

Reading gaffer Brian McDermott and experimental chef Heston Blumenthal

Norwich legend Bryan Gunn and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vadar

Crawley boss Steve Evans and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Against All Odds

Paul Peschisolido's Burton are surprise challengers for the League Two play-offs

It's all too easy, especially within the media, to focus on the negative. It's no different in football where those who underachieve, the fallen giant, and the surprise struggler always tend to make the headlines.

As means of explanation the one factor often ignored in certain sides underachieving is simply that other teams are doing the exact opposite - punching above their weight.

Could it simply be that said surprise struggler is not doing so well not because of anything they're doing wrong, but that other smaller, less fancier teams are maximising their resources better.

However, in a game that is fast becoming more predictable at all levels because of the influence of money, it's refreshing to still see that sides are showing it takes more than the size of your budget to succeed.

This season, that particular achievement is no more evident that in League Two. The clutch of clubs lying just outside the play-off places include the unfashionable names of Accrington Stanley, Burton, Aldershot, and Morecambe.

For all four sides to be in a position where a top seven spot is perfectly attainable is a tribute to their respective managers and players, all of who have confounded the critics to challenge.

The quartet all attract attendances in the bottom third of their division - regularly getting crowds worse than struggling sides like Grimsby, Cheltenham, and Lincoln.

Therefore, with matchday revenue often being the largest source of income for lower division sides, it is a sign of just how much these sides are overachieving.

For Stanley, their challenge has been even more remarkable. The Lancashire club came perilously close to going out of business earlier in the season due to financial problems.

Their success is testament to the solid foundations laid by long-serving boss John Coleman. He has forged a close-knit group of hard-working professionals playing good football who have also enjoyed success in cup competitions this season.

It is almost unthinkable to envisage a side attracting 2,000 fans to home matches to be playing in the third tier of English football next season. However, it is also a distinct possibility.

As is Burton Albion achieving back-to-back promotions. Some pundits expected the Brewers to be the first side to suffer instant relegation back to the Conference following promotion last season.

The stuttering way they had finished the previous campaign, allied with the appointment of the rookie Paul Peschisolido as manager didn't seem to bode well for the Staffordshire outfit.

However, their committment to playing attractive, attacking football has won them as many points as it has admirers. For a side who were promoted without any momentum, their challenge has been a surprise success story.

Another side who finished last season poorly were Aldershot Town. The Shots were another side expected to struggle in their second season back in League Two.

Their impressive start was unexpected, so to sustain it despite losing influential manager Gary Waddock to Wycombe in the autumn is credit to the players at the Recreation Ground.

Like Burton, they too endeavour to play the game the right way and entertain their supporters.

Indeed, not only is the myth of succeeding without money being challenged, but those who believe the basement division is no more than the 'kick and rush' style are seriously misguided.

The Hampshire side are now under the management of Kevin Dillon, and the former assistant to Steve Coppell at Reading has maintained Town's solid home form to keep them in top seven contention.

Morecambe have once again impressed under Sammy McIlroy's tutelage

Perhaps the highest praise that can be offered to the final member of the four teams - Morecambe - is that not many people are surprised to see them punching above their weight to challenge.

The Shrimps are only in their third season in the Football League, yet have already shown that, despite not having huge riches, it is a step-up in status they are entirely comfortable with.

The vastly experienced Sammy McIlroy has worked smartly in the permanent transfer and loan market to build a strong side capable of playing good football but also in dealing with the physical nature of the division.

The progressive Lancashire club plan to move into a new stadium next term - a sign that League Two is not the height of their ambition.

The current side taking to the Christie Park pitch might realise those dreams come the end of the season.

Such success also helps fuel the dreams and hopes of other smaller clubs. After all, the four clubs were in Non League football just a few seasons ago.

Not does does it suggest that the gap between League Two and the Conference is narrowing, but that other sides can have a similar impact in the future.

It is the kind of inspiration promotion challengers such as Kettering and Stevenage - clubs who have never played in the Football League before - can draw upon.

In fact, whether any of the four overachievers make the top seven this season or not, it is the kind of upsetting of the apple cart that keeps the dream alive for all fans outside the top flight. Money does indeed talk, but not always the loudest.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Match Review - Rotherham 1 Torquay 1

League Two
Rotherham United 1-1 Torquay United
Friday February 19, Don Valley Stadium, (Att: 3,339)

Elliot Benyon's goal five minutes from time rescued a point for struggling Torquay and put a dent in Rotherham's promotion hopes.

Paul Buckle's visitors actually began the stronger of the two sides and could have taken the lead when Mark Ellis's header forced Andy Warrington into a diving save.

The Millers responded, and Adam Le Fondre was unfortunate not to find the back of the net when his curled effort came back off the upright with Scott Bevan beaten.

However, the South Yorkshire team did take the lead not long after, Danny Harrison popping up at the back post to steer Nicky Laws's cross into the net.

They could have extended their advantage in the second half, but Le Fondre could only scoop an effort over the bar when through on Bevan's goal.

And they were made to pay for that missed opportunity when Chris Robertson's long throw caused panic in the box and Benyon bundled the ball in from close range.

There was still time for Gary Roberts to earn a second booking that saw him sent off in stoppage time to compound Ronnie Moore's team's woes.

However, for the away side, a valuable point to take back to Devon in their fight against relegation from the Football League.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nobes' Trivia Question 14

He's back on the road again, can you work out which Football League ground he's at this week though as we ask:


The ground I'm at this week was named after a royal occasion and attracted its highest ever attendance when Matt Busby's Manchester United were in town.

It's staged both football and rugby games in the past and one of the stands is named after a former manager of the club.

It was also bombed in both the First and Second World Wars.

Do you know where Nobes is though? The answer will be revealed on March 5.

Prediction League Week 29

It was a positive midweek for Lakes who moved to within a point of Nobes in the Soccer AM/MW Prediction League.

However, it's still reigning champion Turls who leads the way. With a five point cushion and a 14th straight week at the summit, a second title is looking ominous.

Onto this week, and as Boston face an East Midlands derby, Forest and Preston are both in action against opponents from the North East.

Newcastle United vs. Preston North End

Lakes: Newcastle United 3-1 PNE
Newcastle United 3-0 PNE
Newcastle United 4-1 PNE

Nottingham Forest vs. Middlesbrough

Lakes: Forest 2-0 Middlesbrough
Forest 1-0 Middlesbrough
Forest 2-1 Middlesbrough

Worksop Town vs. Boston United

Worksop Town 1-1 Skyrockets
Worksop Town 0-2 Skyrockets
Worksop Town 1-2 Skyrockets

Nobes' Trivia Question 13 solution

A fortnight ago Nobes set you this football trivia poser to have a go at:

Find the link between:

Championship sides Scunthorpe and Sheffield United.

League One teams
Southend, Stockport, Walsall, Wycombe, and Yeovil.

And League Two clubs Burton, Macclesfield, Morecambe, and Northampton

Did you work out the answer? The solution was that all the sides mentioned take their nickname from an industry in the town or city they represent.

Scunthorpe has a large Iron industry and Sheffield is famous for its manufacturing of Steel implements like Blades.

Seaside town Southend's team are known as the Shrimpers - due to the local fishing trade.

Stockport, Walsall, and Yeovil are all named after products made in the respective towns - hats (Hatters), saddles (Saddlers) and gloves (Glovers).

And High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire is famous for its furniture, particularly chairs, which is why the town's club are known as the Chairboys.

Beer has been made in Burton-on-Trent for many years, hence Burton Albion's nickname of the Brewers.

The Silk industry was prevelant in the Cheshire town of Macclesfield, starting the nickname the Silkmen.

Morecambe are known as the Shrimps - because of their local fishing industry, and Northampton's nickname of the Cobblers comes from the town's many shoe-makers.

Well done if you got it right. Nobes will have another question for you soon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fan Files: Rushden & Diamonds

The latest interview with real football fans turns the spotlight on Conference Premier side Rushden & Diamonds.

James Fairney has been supporting the Northamptonshire club for the last 10 years.

He rates the drama of the play-offs in their debut season in the Football League and winning the League Two title in 2003 as the highlights.

Relegation from the Football League in 2006 rates as an obvious, but understandable, low point of following Diamonds's fortunes.

James, you’re sitting in the top five and in the race for the play-offs – are you surprised at how well you’re doing this season, and can you get promoted?

Surprised? Tremendously. I knew we had a decent team, but I never thought we would make the top five. Some other fans
optimistically said we would, but I never thought so.

Our squad was just too young and inexperienced in my opinion but, while we still lack the goalscorer up front that all the other teams up here seem to have, the midfield
is chipping in and doing its part.

Justin Edinburgh [left] and assistant Michael Stone have turned around Rushden's fortunes

Can we get promoted? Well, if we make the play-offs there is always the lottery, and we have had decent results for the most part against the other sides in the mix.

I am not confident though that we could beat most of the other teams over two legs and therefore make the final, which would be a one off where anything could happen.

Tell us about the impact Justin Edinburgh has had? How much of your success this season has been down to the manager?

The impact has been huge. He came in to become our assistant manager under
[former boss] Garry Hill before he got the caretaker job and eventually the full time role as manager.

From his first moment at the club the willingness to pass the ball rather than aimlessly hoof it in the Hill manner was evident.

Hoofing wasn't cut out as the primary tactic until Hill left, but as soon as he did, pretty football on the deck ensued. Justin has had a reduced budget and his results have been far better.

Consensus seems to be if he had the budget or the squad that Hill had then the expectations could or maybe would have been lived up to, rather than a season of mid-table nothingness.

The success this season has been mostly down to Edinburgh. He had to choose who to get rid of and who to keep. A couple of players were allowed to move on having been offered reduced terms to stay, but this allowed others to come in.

A large number of the squad are young but are now surprisingly consistent players.

It is no surprise that eyes of bigger clubs have been on some of our players as Justin isn't just good tactically, but he is also good at getting the best out of his players, this helps them develop.

A case-in-point is Lee Tomlin, a player who has been touted by fans to finally make it for a long time, but it wasn't until Edinburgh took over that Tomlin began to show his ability, and develop it, consistently, and now he is our star player.

Lee Tomlin [left] is Rushden's top scorer this season with 12 goals

The race for the title appears to be a three horse race. Of what you know and have seen, who do you fancy will win it – Oxford, Stevenage, or York?

Having just seen all three I would almost fancy - should Chester's results be expunged - that Luton would catch the lot of them, gaining one to four points on those teams.

York are unspectacular, they grind out results rather than anything else. Graham Westley's Stevenage team are as ugly as you would expect if you know anything about Westley.

Oxford susprised me with how poor they were, maybe we just caught them on an off day despite losing.

Out of the three though, barring strange goings-on, the smart money has to be on Oxford to finally make the title with Chris Wilder, an expereinced manager at this level, at the helm.

What about the gap between Football and Non Leagues. Some people argue that it is getting smaller? Is there much of a difference?

In previous seasons I would have argued it however, this season, I am not so sure.

I think there is an overlap of the top few teams in the Conference and the bottom few in the League due to bottle-necking with only two-up and two-down.

There are League sides that lose a lot of games, get little money, and can't afford to keep a good side, who just hover above the relegation places season after season.

Relegation rejuvinates a number of clubs though and now you have Oxford, York, Mansfield, and Luton all vying for promotion back to the League with squads that would probably finish in solid mid-table positions in the division above.

It's no accident that no team has ever been relegated straight back to the Conference.

Could Richard Money's Luton make a late charge for automatic promotion if Chester go out of business?

This season, maybe as evidenced by us being up there, the top teams just don't seem that good.

Luton were the only side in or around the play-off area where I sat back and thought that they were clearly a side that could end up near the top of the table.

Maybe teams are just following the Burton lead of being solid and consistent against the poorer sides - by doing that it doesn't matter so much if you drop points to your rivals who don't manage to beat them.

The Conference had 22 teams when Rushden were originally in it. Do you think since it's been expanded to 24 teams the division is of a higher standard than before?

I think it is certainly of a higher standard. However, I don't think that the extra two sides has much to do with it personally.

The two sides are theoretically two extra sides from the divisions below and, whilst some come up with money, they haven't really changed the look of this league, as they spend the money then disappear.

I think it has improved with the addition of the second promotion spot and the play-offs.

With winner-takes-all there used to be about four clubs in it by the middle of each season - it wasn't worth anyone further behind keeping their better players who went off relatively cheaply in the past.

Now, with 5th place giving a play-off spot, hardly anyone thinks like that.

Diamonds used to be thought of as the money-bags of Non League football who were ‘buying’ their way to promotion. What do you think the image of the club is now? Have you managed to shed that tag?

I don't think we will ever shed that tag in some peoples eyes.

It was great while it happened, and bandwagoners attached themselves to the club and lorded it over the teams we were passing - many of whom are now enjoying being in the same league as us again.

Rushden's purpose-built Nene Park is one of the smartest stadiums in Non League

They have long since left and it's only the loyal ones who have stayed for the most part. Newer fans of opposition clubs will only hear about it and the tag will fade over time, but it is something that will always be with the club.

However, we are thankful for it, as the legacies left behind of the stadium and facilities enable us to sustain a club at a good level.

Rushden made it all the way to League One in your years in the Football League. Could that feat realistically ever be repeated in the future?

People might laugh, but I think it could. However, the key to the success is, as always, money.

The fact that we pulled in a 4,000 average gate in a 6,500 seater stadium in that division shows that the fans are potentially there to support the club, but football based income cannot deliver success.

If you survive on football based income at this level then you either need a ridiculously good youth system to constantly sell and replace good players, or a top notch manager, who would probably get picked off eventually anyway.

We have great facilities both for training and for the youth set-up - facilities which deserve the funding League clubs get.

The club has a small amount of land which there are plans to develop, the success of a hotel project, and a patnership with Milton Keynes Dons for a training ground for the 2012 World Cup bid.

These are all factors which could help the club become, for the use of a massive cliche, a larger club. A club with more clout to keep the better players bring in the fans and climb the divisions.

Diamonds made it into League One in 2003 under Brian Talbot

Finally, what’s the best thing about being a Rushden & Diamonds supporter?

There are good things about being a Diamonds fan? Well, these days there is the success! I for one can tell you it is much sweeter when it is earned like this than when it was bought.

The best thing at the moment though is the closeness of the squad, and the appreciation they are showing the fans.

It really is a two way street that when explored by those at both ends helps cement the bonds between fans and club and players.

James, thanks for talking to Soccer AM/MW.

Big Match Preview

League Two
Rotherham United vs. Torquay United
Friday February 19, 19:45, Don Valley Stadium

Two basement division sides will be hoping for precious points for very different reasons on Friday evening as Rotherham take on Torquay at the Don Valley Stadium.

The home side, currently sitting in 4th, are hoping to close the gap on the three sides in League Two's automatic promotion places. For their opponents though, its league survival that's on their mind.

The Gulls, promoted via the Conference play-offs last May, have struggled on their return to the big time and currently lie just five points off the relegation places.

It's been a difficult transition to oversee for their young boss, Paul Buckle, who has enjoyed great success at Plainmoor since taking charge in 2007.

And the Devon club are on a poor run of late - without a win since Boxing Day and having lost their last three home games.

However, in a strange twist, the club decided to allow experienced campaigners Chris Hargreaves and Tim Sills - both instrumental in last season's promotion - to leave the club during the January transfer window.

United also missed out on the signing of Crawley's hotshot striker Charles Ademano but were able to add Wycombe's Chris Zebroski to bolster their attacking options.

Zebroski, with five goals, is one of Torquay's biggest threats going forwards.

Along with Scott Rendell and Elliot Benyon - seven and six league goals to their names respectively - he will be expected to find the goals needed for survival over the next few weeks.

Torquay United boss Paul Buckle has a relegation battle on his hands

They might be in for a tough test on Friday evening in South Yorkshire though as they face a Rotherham side with one of the strongest home records in the division.

The Millers have suffered defeat on home soil just twice this term - however, both of those losses have been suffered in their last four games in their temporary home.

The fact one of those surprisingly occurred against rock-bottom Darlington means Ronnie Moore's high flyers will have to be cautious not to underestimate another lowly opponent.

Moore, in his second spell at the club, took over from Mark Robins in the autumn has kept Rotherham in contention for the top three - and the side have two games in hand on 3rd placed Bury.

The leading light in the home side's team is striker Adam Le Fondre - a signing from promotion rivals Rochdale - the young forward has found the back of the net 19 times in League Two this term.

That includes three goals in his side's last two games - wins against Lincoln and Dagenham - so the Millers come into the game with confidence and back in good form.

Considering the two sides contrasting form, Rotherham will be firm favourites to boost their promotion hopes and deepen Torquay's woes with another win.

And although surprises can happen, their Darlington-debacle means it's hard to see the home side taking the Gulls lightly.

Nobes' Prediction: Rotherham United 2 Torquay United 1

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Parachute Payments

With Newcastle and West Brom - two sides relegated from the top flight last season - clear at the top of the Championship, the lads discuss the importance of parachute payments.

Is it an unfair system or a necessary evil to stop relegated clubs going bust? And how influential are they in the race for a place at football's top table?

Parachute payments are in no way fair. Isn't it enough that the club who were in the Premier League already get a lot more than those in the Championship so why should they continue to receive extra resources?

It gives the clubs who have been relegated an unfair advantage in the Championship. They failed so they shouldn't still get a slice of the pie.

Nobes: It does seem to reward failure, yes, which is a strange concept. Why should clubs be compensated for not being good enough? Does it happen at any other level?

Do relegated Championship clubs get compensation? If so, then it's certainly not on a relative scale. It just seems to be a big boys' gravy train concept.

Turls: Exactly, if I get sacked from a job, do I still get paid a small amount of my wage just to keep me ticking over and make sure that I don't turn to intravenous drugs? No, I don't. So why should this be the same?

It's encouraging Premier League clubs to spend money that they don't have just in order to stay in the top-flight, safe in the knowledge that if they do get relegated, they will still get more money than clubs in the Championship.

Parachute payments are the bane of modern football.

They breed a culture of financial irresponsibility which encourages failure with the reward of cash. Cash to buy more players and cheat your way back to the top flight with money you didn't deserve.

Turls: I'd agree. Parachute payments are one of the many reasons that the modern game is in the state that it is.

Clubs don't seem to understand that the payments aren't permanent and if they do get relegated, they splurge this extra money on mediocre players just to try and reach the promised land again.

Whatever happened to the good old days of simply not being good enough? It doesn't apply anymore and simply serves to create a two-tier Championship: the haves and have-nots.

Burnley's play-off final win guaranteed them millions - even if they come straight back down

Nobes: What is it a side gets for making the top flight? £60 million, and that's even if they get relegated after just one season.

It almost seems to be a way of setting up a 'closed-shop' of 25 teams or so who the Premier League would prefer to be in there.

After all, if they're aiming for a 39th game played abroad in Asia, they'd rather Leeds be in the top flight than Burnley.

You can end up with a ridiculous situation where a team is relegated to the Championship and then League One, but still be earning parachute money.

Is it fair to imbalance a league such as League One by giving someone such a massive advantage - to the tune of £8 million or so - in a division where money is super-tight? No.

And what of teams who live off the fat of parachute payments and then find they haven't been promoted when they dry up? They can't cope.

It does happen, but you can't blame the Premier League for this. It isn't their fault that clubs spend beyond their means just to get the chance to play at the fabled Old Trafford.

I'm always ready to give the Premier League chiefs a good telling off but this isn't their fault.

Suppose the question now is whether or not they are beginning to take their toll and have a real influence on the Championship. Is it becoming more predictable?

Although it isn't too bad these days, parachute payments really ruined the Championship a few years back. It was the same teams involved in the promotion push over and over again.

We had all these yo-yo clubs like Sunderland and West Brom and it ruined the division.

Newcastle and West Brom are leading the chase for promotion from the Championship

Take this season. To even be within contention, Forest had to spend over £5 million and this still won't be enough to get automatic promotion.

West Brom and Newcastle had the money received in the Premier League - fair enough - but then they have received extra money for dropping out of the league!

It means that Championship clubs are having to spend more just to draw level with relegated clubs.

Nobes: I think it's definitely had a big part to play this season. Newcastle were a club in disarray, up for sale, and financially screwed. Yet they've managed to hold on to the majority of their key players and big wage earners.

Not only that, but they've added to that squad and are now odds-on to get promoted at the first attempt. Would they have been able to do all that without parachute payments? I doubt it.

There is a real danger of the Championship becoming a lot like the top-flight in that only a handful of clubs will stand the chance to go up.

Clubs who get relegated will stand alongside the clubs who have been relegated in recent years.

Teams like Forest are having to spend a fair wadge of cash to be given the opportunity to battle for promotion. Money rules and Forest's lack of squad depth will cost them this year.

It has to be said though that the vast majority of relegated top flight sides don't bounce back at the first attempt. Indeed, some of them have actually gone on to drop down to League One.

If ex-Premier League sides are leaving the division by both ends, then perhaps we're overstating the importance of parachute payments?

I think that's more down to the fact that some of the relegated clubs have players who don't seem up for a fight at Glanford Park and so they find it tough to go straight back up - see Forest, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, and Leicester - but this isn't the case all the time.

Leeds dropped down from the top flight to League One amid financial problems

Nobes: I don't know, if the Premier League stopped the payments than perhaps clubs wouldn't go for broke to get into the Premier League. Surely prevention is better than cure in this instance?

The only worry is, if they stopped them suddenly, a lot of clubs could actually end up going to the wall. They have probably saved clubs with big wage budgets from going under.

If clubs go bust, they do so under their own steam. They do it because they've spent so much money.

I would argue that having parachute payments actually makes it more likely that clubs will go bust.

Firstly, because clubs losing their payments struggle, and secondly because all the other teams in the division need to spend more in order to compete - sometimes living beyond their means.

I agree that the payments stop a lot of the clubs going to the wall but do you not see that if these payments weren't in place then the clubs would stop spending beyond their means.

This would result in less debt and my A-Level in Economics And Business Studies tells me that less debt is good.

I definitely think they should end, but I think it has to be phased out slowly and gradually as suddenly removing it could provoke havoc for some clubs.

Yes it's their own fault for over-spending, but you can't just suddenly move the goalposts.

Take the £16 million per relegated team, or whatever it is, and divide it amongst the other clubs. Then you'll see a good use of that money.

So all in all, parachute payments are like poison - get rid of them before they kill football for good.