It's Six Of One...
With the League One Play-Offs finally over and done with, we have completed the new look line-up for the Football League Championship next season, waving goodbye to six teams and welcoming another six.
Firstly, Portsmouth with drop to our league after a long and largely dreadful season, despite a wonderful run in the F.A. Cup, the club's financial problems manifested themselves on the field in the Premier League, with the boys from Fratton Park picking up just nineteen points in the top flight. Fratton Park is a 234 mile drive from Oakwell.
Following them down from the Premier League are Hull City, who enjoyed a two year stay in the top flight but couldn't escape that 'second season syndrome', being ultimately condemned to relegation with one game to spare at Wigan Athletic with a 2-2 draw. The KC Stadium is a 61 mile drive from Oakwell.
Burnley were the suprise package two seasons ago in the Championship, surprising everyone by winning promotion through the Play-Offs but it has proved a step too far for the small club (as we well know here at Barnsley) and they will be joining us back in the Championship once again next season after finishing 5 points adrift of safety in the Premier League. Turf Moor is a 50 mile drive from Oakwell.
Replacing them in the Premier League will be 'on loan to the Championship' Newcastle United, who took the division by storm with a staggering 102 points and only four defeats from 46 matches to their name. St. James' Park is a 118 mile drive from Oakwell.
West Brom are bouncing back into the Premier League as they have done so often recently, yo-yo-ing between the divisions almost perenially. They are responsible for two 7 goal bashings of Barnsley in recent years. The Hawthorns is a 106 mile drive from Oakwell.
Few would argue that Newcastle are back where they belong, and few Baggies fans would argue that they are back where they belong too but Blackpool have become this year's Burnley by sneaking through the Play-Offs after attaining 6th place on the final day of the season and defeating promotion favourites Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City in the 'lottery'. Bloomfield Road is an 88 mile drive from Oakwell.
Turning our attention to the other end of the Championship we say goodbye to Peterborough United who came up as champions in 2009 but left the division with a whimper and weeks to spare. London Road is a 101 mile drive from Oakwell.
Plymouth Argyle almost staged an unlikely survival but fell short in the end, succumbing to defeats from Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, which sent them down in 23rd place after 6 years in the Championship. Home Park is a 303 mile drive from Oakwell.
Sheffield Wednesday will be back at Oakwell in 2010 but only as friendly opponents, if you can call a game between us a 'friendly'. A dramatic 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace wasn't enough to save their status in the Championship but it was enough for Palace who needed to simply avoid defeat to send Wednesday down instead of them. Hillsborough is just a 12 mile drive from Oakwell.
Joining us next season from League One will be Norwich City who bounced back from a 7-1 crushing at home to Colchester United on the opening day of the season to win promotion as Champions. Carrow Road is a 159 mile drive from Oakwell.
Leeds United sealed their place in the Championship at the third time of asking, escaping the Play-Off lottery that had seen them fall at the final hurdle in the previous two seasons, to take second place and rejoin the existing Yorkshire clubs back in the Championship. Elland Road is a 23 mile drive from Oakwell.
Millwall have won promotion today over ex-Reds boss Danny Wilson's Swindon Town in the Play-Off final at Wembley with a 1-0 victory. Kenny Jackett was on the losing side in the Play-Off final in 2006 when his Swansea City side were beaten on penalties by none other than ourselves. The New Den is a 181 mile drive from Oakwell.
So the good news? Apart from having the bragging rights over Wednesday for at least a full season, we also have 20 less miles to travel overall to the away grounds next season!