2023/24 League Two Play-Offs

Who's winning the play-offs?

  • MK Dons

    Votes: 31 39.2%
  • Doncaster Rovers

    Votes: 31 39.2%
  • Crewe Alex

    Votes: 7 8.9%
  • Crawley Town

    Votes: 10 12.7%

  • Total voters
    79
  • Poll closed .

TrinidadsNumberOne

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Blaster came on but he was the only loanee, Wilson, Massey (both released) Chislett and Plant were all permanents, if he doesn't get sold Chislett is a big player for us this coming season and Plant from the academy if finally used properly could be a good asset but those changes completely turned the game.

It was men v boys against Mansfield too and we were already on the slide by then so shows it does take a big improvement to even compete at that level these days.

Ironically the side that caused us the most issues from L2 in the cups was Sutton! They missed 3 or 4 very good chances before Funso scored a screamer late on.

Be an even bigger gulf starting this season with the new TV deal kicking in. But the benefit of that is that there'll be an even bigger gulf between this level and the National League too. I think we're not too far from a promoted NL side going straight back down soon as the TV money in the NL just isn't there in comparison whilst clubs at this level will see their funding increase by an average of £300K a season. May lead to more clubs bouncing back in the future too, especially now the bottleneck of bankrolled former EFL clubs has almost disappeared from that level with the exception of Oldham and York.
 

valefan16

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Be an even bigger gulf starting this season with the new TV deal kicking in. But the benefit of that is that there'll be an even bigger gulf between this level and the National League too. I think we're not too far from a promoted NL side going straight back down soon as the TV money in the NL just isn't there in comparison whilst clubs at this level will see their funding increase by an average of £300K a season. May lead to more clubs bouncing back in the future too, especially now the bottleneck of bankrolled former EFL clubs has almost disappeared from that level with the exception of Oldham and York.
300k isn't massive amounts though really, and is that not just from a Stanley point of view? Whereas ifollow for say Vale or Crewe would see more match passes sold on average per game streamed so we would see less of an increase?
 

Si Robin

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I don't think you can really compare leagues on a couple of match ups though. We played Newport in the Pizza Cup and lost 2-0, and then we played Wimbledon in the FA Cup with only a couple of our strongest players out and got dicked 5-1.
 

TrinidadsNumberOne

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300k isn't massive amounts though really, and is that not just from a Stanley point of view? Whereas ifollow for say Vale or Crewe would see more match passes sold on average per game streamed so we would see less of an increase?

I was under the impression that that was the average for each club, which is a decent size amount for a club like us that's reliant on these TV deals to fund our Academy costs without owners putting money from their own pockets into it. It's also £300K more than any non league club is getting. I don't even think a TV deal has been signed to cover the fifth tier beyond this season yet! Of course, to big spending clubs, it's a player on £6K a week which I still can't quite fathom at this level.

But League One would've been very lucrative for us next season as the Chairman said before the playoff final. Relegation cost us well over £1 million when we went down and it's probably cost you a bigger loss in potential earnings too with the deals going up.
 

valefan16

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I was under the impression that that was the average for each club, which is a decent size amount for a club like us that's reliant on these TV deals to fund our Academy costs without owners putting money from their own pockets into it. It's also £300K more than any non league club is getting. I don't even think a TV deal has been signed to cover the fifth tier beyond this season yet! Of course, to big spending clubs, it's a player on £6K a week which I still can't quite fathom at this level.

But League One would've been very lucrative for us next season as the Chairman said before the playoff final. Relegation cost us well over £1 million when we went down and it's probably cost you a bigger loss in potential earnings too with the deals going up.
Big loss for us will be the away support, not many clubs if any are selling close to 3100 down here and very few will bring 1000 (Crewe, Notts Co possibly, Chesterfield possibly, Bradford might and Walsall if they keep the DC era hatred of us) wheras in L1 most weeks you get close to that and of course a few clubs fill the Bycars so financially thats a big hit...

Almost a bigger hit that actually signing players we needed in January would have cost!
 

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Plant from the academy if finally used properly could be a good asset
He’s the sort of player that might not be appreciated at first but then he will grow on you.
 

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Could be worse, after our play off penalty shootout defeat to Bristol Rovers in 2015 I didn’t get home until 1AM and I was hallucinating on part of the drive because I was so tired, my Cousin had looked after our dog and she was at work in the morning so I couldn’t just stay over another night I had to drive in that state.
you have been Hallucinating all your life.....
 

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There will be a gulf but it’s no worse than other levels it just feels bigger because 4 go down unlike here where only two go down.

Carlisle did crap, but the other 3 all easily stayed up and didn’t have any issues with transition.

The only issue with L1 is the league does have an elite group of 6-8 sides with ridiculous budgets so days of a Crewe or vale or Grimsby being solid strong championship/league one sides due to good solid management than cash isn’t a big reality.
 

TrinidadsNumberOne

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There will be a gulf but it’s no worse than other levels it just feels bigger because 4 go down unlike here where only two go down.

Carlisle did crap, but the other 3 all easily stayed up and didn’t have any issues with transition.

The only issue with L1 is the league does have an elite group of 6-8 sides with ridiculous budgets so days of a Crewe or vale or Grimsby being solid strong championship/league one sides due to good solid management than cash isn’t a big reality.

Also add in the fact that when we were in our golden era, our manager turned down Benfica! If we were Top 6 in League One anytime soon, which is unlikely, I'm convinced our manager would be off to Barnsley if offered the job there! And that's the big difference these days.
 

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There will be a gulf but it’s no worse than other levels it just feels bigger because 4 go down unlike here where only two go down.

Carlisle did crap, but the other 3 all easily stayed up and didn’t have any issues with transition.

The only issue with L1 is the league does have an elite group of 6-8 sides with ridiculous budgets so days of a Crewe or vale or Grimsby being solid strong championship/league one sides due to good solid management than cash isn’t a big reality.
Its the second season that will be the real test for Orient/Cobblers/Stevenage really.
 

BigDaveCUFC

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But is that down to the strength of the league

Or more because usually either the manager or couple of key players from the good period have left and are hard to quickly replace.
 

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It’s great when plucky ex non league minnows manage to get promoted and that’s 3 of them in the last 2 years now, in Crawley Stevenage and Carlisle.

Do one Fish.

You're more non-league than we ever were and what a sad state your dilapidated club is when compared to a club like ours.

Enjoy all summer searching the scrap heap for new players. :bye:
 

TrinidadsNumberOne

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But is that down to the strength of the league

Or more because usually either the manager or couple of key players from the good period have left and are hard to quickly replace.

It's genuinely a thing. Last two times we've gone up we've been on the fringes of a playoff challenge in our first season only to regress second season.

First time around we only lost Luke Murphy for a sizable fee and retained everyone else but a preseason incident and a load of bad eggs signed meant Davis lost the dressing room.

Second time around we lost 5 of our best players and were down and out after the recruitment was shoddy, Artell lost the dressing room by wrongly shaming Tommy Lowery and then the remaining replacements signed were substandard.

Clubs like Orient, Northampton and Stevenage will have modest budgets for that level. They won't be able to retain everyone they want to retain but then they'll find themselves competing with each other plus clubs like Cambridge and Exeter who have stayed up a little longer, the newly promoted sides and sides in L2 with deep pockets. Get it wrong, and you're back in League Two 2 years after promotion.
 

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Do one Fish.

You're more non-league than we ever were and what a sad state your dilapidated club is when compared to a club like ours.

Enjoy all summer searching the scrap heap for new players. :bye:
1716293905286.gif
 

valefan16

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It's genuinely a thing. Last two times we've gone up we've been on the fringes of a playoff challenge in our first season only to regress second season.

First time around we only lost Luke Murphy for a sizable fee and retained everyone else but a preseason incident and a load of bad eggs signed meant Davis lost the dressing room.

Second time around we lost 5 of our best players and were down and out after the recruitment was shoddy, Artell lost the dressing room by wrongly shaming Tommy Lowery and then the remaining replacements signed were substandard.

Clubs like Orient, Northampton and Stevenage will have modest budgets for that level. They won't be able to retain everyone they want to retain but then they'll find themselves competing with each other plus clubs like Cambridge and Exeter who have stayed up a little longer, the newly promoted sides and sides in L2 with deep pockets. Get it wrong, and you're back in League Two 2 years after promotion.
For us, the first season was ok bar the odd beating for a period of time, we got to the fringes of the play offs at New Year hit January and saw sides like Ipswich splashing over £1 Million on a player and realized we are not competing with that so didn't sign anyone... then fell down the league and never recovered into last season really.

Thats the issue now, some real big budgets at the top end who can strengthen in January to push on so even if your a plucky smaller club challenging come January the big boys will generally push the boat out and your done then.

When we had been in League One 2000-2008 and 2013-17 it generally felt like it was achievable to challenge or get promoted (Granted in 2000 we fell out the second tier), but this past two years even though we are far better run now and probably have a better budget than we did in either of those spells it felt almost impossible. like if a club of our size finishes 10th you've done exceptionally well.

We had some great results, beating Derby Away, Charlton Away last season, beat Plymouth away when they'd won all 9 home games up to that point, arguably our best performance was a defeat to Ipswich at home (we lost 3-2 but they were like a top level team) but I didn't really enjoy 75% of it at all, we should of avoided relegation by not making the same errors last season in January especially but it was the least down I have felt about any relegation, we were not ready in the slightest when we went up.

Stockport will do ok, Wrexham will be fine, depends how much they want to spend, will be interesting that one as your not competing with £1-2 Million budgets now, for them to go up the financial jump to compete with Bolton, Birmingham etc will be massive, Mansfield could go either way but they'll stay up I would think, Crawley is a massive ask but have to invest to have a chance.
 

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It's so frustrating to see though. It really has become, more than ever, a competition about depth of pockets rather than anything else. Of course there's always anomolies, but for most clubs stepping up to League One or above is purely and simply a hope of not getting fisted week in week out and praying that they can start to build from season two onwards. Imagine, had Sunday gone differently, that we'd be put up against Birmingham, Bolton, Charlton, and again up against Stockport, Wrexham, etc. Realistically it wouldn't matter who we signed or how we were ran, it's a level that we couldn't hope to compete on a level playing field with. Up to the Championship is even worse. Then, look at the step above that. Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton all coming straight back down - it's a disparity that is getting bigger season upon season and it's going to result in more clubs going bust or suffering from financial difficulties every year in an effort to close that gap. Something, somewhere, is broken.
 

TrinidadsNumberOne

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For us, the first season was ok bar the odd beating for a period of time, we got to the fringes of the play offs at New Year hit January and saw sides like Ipswich splashing over £1 Million on a player and realized we are not competing with that so didn't sign anyone... then fell down the league and never recovered into last season really.

Thats the issue now, some real big budgets at the top end who can strengthen in January to push on so even if your a plucky smaller club challenging come January the big boys will generally push the boat out and your done then.

When we had been in League One 2000-2008 and 2013-17 it generally felt like it was achievable to challenge or get promoted (Granted in 2000 we fell out the second tier), but this past two years even though we are far better run now and probably have a better budget than we did in either of those spells it felt almost impossible. like if a club of our size finishes 10th you've done exceptionally well.

We had some great results, beating Derby Away, Charlton Away last season, beat Plymouth away when they'd won all 9 home games up to that point, arguably our best performance was a defeat to Ipswich at home (we lost 3-2 but they were like a top level team) but I didn't really enjoy 75% of it at all, we should of avoided relegation by not making the same errors last season in January especially but it was the least down I have felt about any relegation, we were not ready in the slightest when we went up.

Stockport will do ok, Wrexham will be fine, depends how much they want to spend, will be interesting that one as your not competing with £1-2 Million budgets now, for them to go up the financial jump to compete with Bolton, Birmingham etc will be massive, Mansfield could go either way but they'll stay up I would think, Crawley is a massive ask but have to invest to have a chance.

Yep and it's amazing how quick it's happened in League One but it's inevitable as many lower league mainstays have struck it lucky and now become top two tier sides which pushes poorly run bigger clubs down the food chain.

We always have a chance of shithousing a good season in L1 with a strong homegrown core but once that core goes when we sell it off then we're back to where we started in L2. It makes you think in time that if more and more wage inflation comes in through foreign investment, that some clubs would fall by the wayside and be consigned to non league permanently. Indeed, some already have. Torquay, Darlington etc.

The key thing is though that, without the influx of significant TV money that the top two tiers have, two things at lower league levels keep gates high and enable the club to grow. Winning football and spending lots of money to create a buzz. If you're not producing either, likelihood is that fans will start to vote with their feet.

Mansfield will probably survive next season but they're the interesting case study to watch. They've been competing for promotion for nearly a decade in League Two and it's all their recent spurt of fans know. I can't see them ever troubling the Top 6 in League One even with the Radfords at the helm. What happens if they stagnate or, worse, do shite in League One and go down? Do the gates drop? Do fans criticise the board for no ambition? What if they don't bounce straight back? And this can apply to Stockport and other league clubs on upward trajectories at the moment as well. All well and good riding the crest of a wave but all waves come to an end someday. I exclude Wrexham from this because their model is unique and appeals just as much to an international market which will definitely keep gates and revenue high for at least the medium term.

Plymouth fans have been spoilt with success in recent years yet, one below-par season in the Championship and I saw fans on social media calling out the board saying they had no ambition and demanded wholesale changes. I think the modern day football fan is very entitled and we're all guilty of it in some form. We rightly aspire to see some form of success and, probably wrongly, expect to see it. We also fail to realise because we're not all rich that the prospect of failure is always a very real and potentially imminent one. At the end of the day, ups and downs are part of football. The price of an "up" for a lower league club usually ends with a "down" a few years down the line.

I get fans calling out managers who alienate the fanbase, I get fans demanding change if they've been rock bottom all season with no fight and I get fans calling out shithouse owners. But some clubs are that entitled these days that a 4 or 5 match winless run is enough to call for a managers head (Old Firm levels of pressure) or one poor season means the board must go and the next foreign benefactor from America needs to be transplanted in to "save the club". And this is what is making our game less great and less organically aspirational today.
 

WilsdenBantam

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It is interesting to get Port Vale fans opinions on league one as a City fan, as up to 2017 we'd had near identical stints in that league for 15 years. So they've seen the same as us really, so it is a worry if they think it has gotten harder, than say a Forest Green fan who'll have limited knowledge of the level. Traditionally we've done far better in league one than two, its getting out of two that's the difficulty both our relegations from league one were easily avoidable but then we get bogged down, mainly due to the huge overheads which are more easily covered with more income at higher levels. So it's a worry to hear that the gap is bigger than ever, it feels like there are just yo-yo clubs at every level now, it's very boring.
 

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Yep and it's amazing how quick it's happened in League One but it's inevitable as many lower league mainstays have struck it lucky and now become top two tier sides which pushes poorly run bigger clubs down the food chain.

We always have a chance of shithousing a good season in L1 with a strong homegrown core but once that core goes when we sell it off then we're back to where we started in L2. It makes you think in time that if more and more wage inflation comes in through foreign investment, that some clubs would fall by the wayside and be consigned to non league permanently. Indeed, some already have. Torquay, Darlington etc.

The key thing is though that, without the influx of significant TV money that the top two tiers have, two things at lower league levels keep gates high and enable the club to grow. Winning football and spending lots of money to create a buzz. If you're not producing either, likelihood is that fans will start to vote with their feet.

Mansfield will probably survive next season but they're the interesting case study to watch. They've been competing for promotion for nearly a decade in League Two and it's all their recent spurt of fans know. I can't see them ever troubling the Top 6 in League One even with the Radfords at the helm. What happens if they stagnate or, worse, do shite in League One and go down? Do the gates drop? Do fans criticise the board for no ambition? What if they don't bounce straight back? And this can apply to Stockport and other league clubs on upward trajectories at the moment as well. All well and good riding the crest of a wave but all waves come to an end someday. I exclude Wrexham from this because their model is unique and appeals just as much to an international market which will definitely keep gates and revenue high for at least the medium term.

Plymouth fans have been spoilt with success in recent years yet, one below-par season in the Championship and I saw fans on social media calling out the board saying they had no ambition and demanded wholesale changes. I think the modern day football fan is very entitled and we're all guilty of it in some form. We rightly aspire to see some form of success and, probably wrongly, expect to see it. We also fail to realise because we're not all rich that the prospect of failure is always a very real and potentially imminent one. At the end of the day, ups and downs are part of football. The price of an "up" for a lower league club usually ends with a "down" a few years down the line.

I get fans calling out managers who alienate the fanbase, I get fans demanding change if they've been rock bottom all season with no fight and I get fans calling out shithouse owners. But some clubs are that entitled these days that a 4 or 5 match winless run is enough to call for a managers head (Old Firm levels of pressure) or one poor season means the board must go and the next foreign benefactor from America needs to be transplanted in to "save the club". And this is what is making our game less great and less organically aspirational today.
Thing is though social media is where you get the majority of the gobby idiots who have no clue about football spouting off so I’d like to think that the rubbish some of these idiots spout is not the general consensus of feelings about our clubs from what I’d call the ‘proper fans.’
Our Twitter feed is embarrassing every time we’re doing badly but people you speak to in person usually have more sense than these tossers who think that because they are hiding behind a computer screen that they can put whatever derogatory shit that they like.
 

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It is interesting to get Port Vale fans opinions on league one as a City fan, as up to 2017 we'd had near identical stints in that league for 15 years. So they've seen the same as us really, so it is a worry if they think it has gotten harder, than say a Forest Green fan who'll have limited knowledge of the level. Traditionally we've done far better in league one than two, its getting out of two that's the difficulty both our relegations from league one were easily avoidable but then we get bogged down, mainly due to the huge overheads which are more easily covered with more income at higher levels. So it's a worry to hear that the gap is bigger than ever, it feels like there are just yo-yo clubs at every level now, it's very boring.
The bottom end there is still some dross that you can compete with but its the top end thats the big issue with all the giants/big spenders. That said if you are out of form even the dross sides can dispatch you. There is no reason why you can't stay up, we made major errors not sorting key areas out for 3 windows and whilst lots of investment did probably too much too fast on the infra structure side (all be it the youth team is starting to pay dividend financially and for the team) but the other stuff maybe could of been tempered a bit to keep us in the third tier.
 

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Safety is determined by how you do against the midtable teams. We took points off all of the top 6, including a win and a draw against Pompey.

Against the rest of the bottom 7 we lost 3, drew 1 and won the other 8.

However, Stevenage, Wycombe, Orient, Exeter, Northampton and Charlton (so 6 of the middle 8 teams) did the double over us - we got 3 draws in 4 games against the other two (Bristol Rovers and Wigan).

That could just be an anomaly, but it's ultimately what cost us in the end.
 

valefan16

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Safety is determined by how you do against the midtable teams. We took points off all of the top 6, including a win and a draw against Pompey.

Against the rest of the bottom 7 we lost 3, drew 1 and won the other 8.

However, Stevenage, Wycombe, Orient, Exeter, Northampton and Charlton (so 6 of the middle 8 teams) did the double over us - we got 3 draws in 4 games against the other two (Bristol Rovers and Wigan).

That could just be an anomaly, but it's ultimately what cost us in the end.
We were the opposite, we did largely ok against the mid table teams but terrible against the top 6/7 and the bottom 6/7! Of the top 6 we picked up 3 points v Oxford.

We got doubled by yourselves and Shrewsbury, 1 point off Fleetwood, 3 off Carlisle, 2 of Cambridge, 3 from Burton.
 

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Thing is though social media is where you get the majority of the gobby idiots who have no clue about football spouting off so I’d like to think that the rubbish some of these idiots spout is not the general consensus of feelings about our clubs from what I’d call the ‘proper fans.’
Our Twitter feed is embarrassing every time we’re doing badly but people you speak to in person usually have more sense than these tossers who think that because they are hiding behind a computer screen that they can put whatever derogatory shit that they like.
I'm the only one of a group of us who goes to the match who does social media and it's old fashioned messageboards, not X. It entirely distorts things, lose and play badly and our group will all say it's not very good and have another pint but go on Twitter and it's manic. The messageboards are better as you have to be able to string a paragraph together which takes a moment and a gathering of your thoughts but Twitter has the power to be entirely toxic and very personal.
 

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Mansfield will probably survive next season but they're the interesting case study to watch. They've been competing for promotion for nearly a decade in League Two and it's all their recent spurt of fans know. I can't see them ever troubling the Top 6 in League One even with the Radfords at the helm. What happens if they stagnate or, worse, do shite in League One and go down? Do the gates drop? Do fans criticise the board for no ambition? What if they don't bounce straight back?

Lincoln and Stevenage both troubled, yet admittedly failed ultimately but if they can then it’s well within the reach of Mansfield and Stockport (the latter more likely/quickly as more financially aggressive IMO) It’s a big difficult step to do so, and with Clough we will be on a slow build, first thing is to consolidate and then try to gradually build.

We haven’t been competing with promotion for a decade either, it’s been about half that at best, with a disaster season in between.

But yeah we will be interesting to watch, financially we will likely be mid-table in L1, hopefully a experienced manager at the level will help but I have no idea what to expect at this point. We are keeping majority of the squad and adding 5/6 additions, Lee Gregory being the first which is a good start.
 
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When we were last in League One 14 years ago we played the likes of Leeds, Norwich, Southampton, Leicester etc. There has always been big clubs coming down to the third tier, it's always been a challenge I don't see what's so different about it. People talking about Huddersfield like they're giants of the game. They'll be right up there because of their American investment but Huddersfield in the third tier isn't making the news at 10.
 

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I think we found league 1 harder these last 2 years because we simply weren't adequately prepared for it. We sneaked into the playoffs and somehow turned round a bit of iffy form.

We then didn't improve enough before this last season.

I don't think league 1 is any better than our previous stints...in fact I'd argue it's worse. Yes, there are 3 or 4 clubs with significant spending power, but many of the teams who had reasonable seasons last year were actually poor when they came to play us. Blackpool, Lincoln, Wigan etc.

We got relegated through pure negligence. We had bigger budgets than a few and I personally felt that as a general team we were better than Burton, Shrewsbury and Cambridge in particular. We just never had even an average striker who could get 12 goals a season. We were totally underprepared and playing catch up from the off.

It seems like Mansfield are setting their stall out early and getting solid recruitment in.

The struggle is competing with the 5 or 6 big budgets that inevitably find themselves at that level....you'll get anomalies like Stevenage but at this moment in time, without serious outside investment, I can't see us playing Championship football ever again. Unfortunately, if you placed teams in each league by the size of their bank balance, you wouldn't be far off.

I said previously on the league 1 forum, I'd love each team across every league to be given the same budget. Then we'd see skilled coaching and management come to the fore rather than the current guise of the sport which is essentially 'who's got the deepest pockets '
 

DippyDon

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When we were last in League One 14 years ago we played the likes of Leeds, Norwich, Southampton, Leicester etc. There has always been big clubs coming down to the third tier, it's always been a challenge I don't see what's so different about it. People talking about Huddersfield like they're giants of the game. They'll be right up there because of their American investment but Huddersfield in the third tier isn't making the news at 10.
My first live game was when Huddersfield were in the bottom tier. If anything for me, for a while it was a surprise seeing them as high up as they have been the last few years.
 

hellogregory

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If you get to the L2 playoff final making sure you get the West End at Wembley is the one to do. That's now us Carlisle and Crawley in succession who've had that and won it.

Congrats to the Crawley fans on here though, wonderful achievement. Will be difficult in L1 but take some momentum into the season and you never know.

Southamptons win today means all 3 EFL playoff finals this season have been won by the West end team.

Definitely the end to be.
 

The_Viking_Magpie

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I have absolutely no idea which end we were at for our recent Wembley success.

I know at the millennium stadium there was an overall bias. No idea about Wembley.
 

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