Graham Westley recently suggested that Boro’ would have won promotion to the Championship if he had stayed as manager rather than leaving for Preston North End in 2012.
If Stevenage were a Championship club in 2015, Westley may not face the difficulties he currently does in trying to improve his squad. Indeed, just like the NetEnt bonuses outlined at http://www.purenetent.com/bonuses for NetEnt Casinos, financial bonuses play a big role in attracting players to football clubs. But as Westley points out, Boro’ are “not blessed with the resources to sign players willy-nilly”.
Yet that could have all been different if Westley had stayed in charge, at least according to the man himself. Speaking back in November, Westley told BBC Look East: “I honestly think had I stayed here when I went, we’d have gone into the Championship.”
Westley’s second spell as Boro’ boss ended in mid-January 2012 when he left for Preston. Following his departure, Boro’ won eight of their remaining 21 games in League One to finish sixth and in the play-offs. But Boro’ were 20 points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.
In the play-offs themselves, Boro’ lost 1-0 on aggregate to Sheffield United. Earlier in the season, though, Boro’ had beaten the Blades 2-1 at home when Westley was still manager. The following season saw Boro’ finish 18th before last season’s relegation to League Two.
It is clearly a debate which could be had long into the night about whether Westley is right that he would have taken the club into the Championship.
But given Boro’s position at the time of his departure, and the fact they still made the play-offs that season, it certainly isn’t a fanciful claim.
Yeovil Town have shown it is possible for a small, unfashionable club to play in the second tier after winning promotion to the Championship through the play-offs in 2012/13. Crewe Alexandra are also not renowned as one of the Football League’s biggest clubs, but have spent several seasons in the division below the Premier League in the past 20 years.
If Boro’ had won promotion, then who knows where that would have left the club in terms of the ability to attract players? The increased revenue and that potential to pay bigger bonuses would surely appeal to prospective signings. Boro’s close proximity to London would also be an appealing factor for any incoming players.
Yet at the same time, Westley is right to suggest Boro’ are ‘overachieving’ simply by being in the Football League.
The only club with a lower average attendance than Boro’s 2,968 in League One last season were Coventry City. And that was because they weren’t playing at their own ground.
There were seven clubs in League Two with a lower average attendance. But five of those, like Boro’, are relative newcomers to the Football League ranks over the past 10 to 15 years. The other two – Rochdale and Torquay United – were promoted and relegated, respectively.
Championship football may currently seem a pipedream now Boro’ are back in League Two. But Westley has taken the club close to the second tier in the past. It is not beyond the realms of fantasy, even possibility, to suggest it could happen in the future if all the right ingredients come together.
by Gabriel Morado