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Life Outside The Premier League - What Do Fans In The Lower Leagues Have To Look Forward To?

Tuesday 23rd July 2013
It is that time as a football fan that we all dread, it happens every year that ends in an odd number. Luckily we had the Confederations Cup to get us through but now what?

If you follow a big Premier League club then you are spending your days contemplating your new strike force "how is Negredo going to work with Navas supplying him?" or dreaming of the BIG players about to be signed " Mata, Hazard and Oscar supplying Rooney, we'll win everything". This is all a fantasy and a very enjoyable one for fans of the big clubs but what about the rest of us? The fans of the 'nearly men', the serial underachievers or the relegation fodder.

It is bad enough when you are continually striving to be part of the top half of the Premier League, at least you get on Match of The Day. But what about fans of clubs further down the leagues? There are a lot of fans like me who hate this time of year, the players our clubs get linked with leave a chill and the players we sign don't fill us with positivity as the reality of another season of 'ordinariness' beckons.

Football these days is a different game from when I first started watching, there is a bigger gulf. Even in the Premier League, Manchester United aren't supposed to drop points at Fulham and its laughable that Southampton beat Manchester City. The difference between a Premier League team's budget and a mid table Championship club is astonishing, so going further down the leagues it gets worse.

As a fan you find yourself on a double edged sword. You crave success for your club, you want to get back to the glory days or just have one glory day, a giant killing in the cup or to beat a local rival. The problem is as with everything in today's society, we want it here and we want it now. So we want star signings we want players who are going to impress us and a lot of the time we want players who we know, who we have heard of.

But what does this mean for the rising stars, the youth players and players signed for their potential? Fans do want the instant success that "named" players may bring but they also want sustainability, value and safety. Most clubs these days have had a time when finances were/are a worry. Fans are more concerned with the bigger signings as a lot of footballers are rightly or wrongly considered money grabbers, fans worry they may not perform and may send the club on a downward spiral while increasing the wage budget.Take my club for example, I'm a Sheffield Wednesday fan, during my lifetime we have been up near the best of the best but over the past 13 years have struggled in and around championship and League One. Times at Hillsborough have been hard and if it wasn't for Milan Mandaric there is a good chance the club could have disappeared. Fans know how close things were and they also remember players being paid ridiculous sums and not performing. The squad of 2000 that included players of the calibre of Wim Jonk and Giles De Bilde being relegated and these players moving on swiftly after receiving handsome wages.  Wim Jonk even received £5000 for each game that he was injured!

Fans don't forget these things and now tread with trepidation. It's hard to get excited about players without being realistic. When your club is linked with players from Premier League clubs who are getting a bit older your excitement builds only to be put on hold by the negatives. Rumours circle amongst your friends and you take a player to pieces without knowing any of the facts... "We could be signing Chopra" "Yeh, but he's past it, too much of a risk".

With younger players you suddenly believe your club is Real Madrid and they must prove themselves at a higher level before representing your club. Sheffield Wednesday recently signed Jacques Maghoma a 25 year old winger from Burton Albion who used to be at the youth academy of Tottenham Hotspur. Maghoma scored 18 goals in 50 appearances for Burton last season which is impressive for a winger, it is also inspiring that he participated in 50 games. Yet I have heard him described as the new saviour and also as someone who couldn't cut it at Tottenham so why should he at Hillsborough. Then suddenly 25 is getting on a bit.

  As Sky TV show more extravagant adverts with yet more  majestic goals as the season approaches, the sense of inferiority with your club starts to get closer. But then the season starts and your marquee signing scores against QPR or your youth team player becomes a part of the starting 11 and you puff your chest out with pride. The seasons back and you are living and breathing football again.

Till that time, spare a thought for us fans of the teams below the 'golden gates' of the Premier League and the summer of discontent that we have to endure.

But if you think its bad for us.... then just imagine how the players feel.
Nathan Angus

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