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Opinion

‘Newcastle United – A Championship football club for how much longer?’

4 weeks ago
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I was at Tynecastle to see Newcastle United in a friendly ahead of the 95/96 season.

The travelling Toon Army took up most of the main stand. Everyone in black and white sang for the full 90 minutes.

At 34, Peter Beardsley covered every inch of pitch and scored the only goal.

That season, Heart of Midlothian lost heavily in the Scottish cup final and I thought I would never see them get close to lift silverware again. Newcastle United had the best team in the Premier League but failed to convert.

In 1996, for work, I left Scotland for the land of Oz, Dennis, Neville and the gang.

I moved into a flat on the quayside (A Jambo on the Tyne) and watched the entertainers from afar…well the Empress bar. The first Newcastle United match I got a ticket for was against Liverpool a couple of seasons later, only to see a Michael Owen hat-trick.

Tickets were hard to come by for a club that was instrumental in establishing the Premier League as the best in the world. A Premier League football club.

Now, as a Newcastle United season ticket holder for several years and a proud member of Eddie Howe’s black and white army, I beg the question above.

I do not have the words to describe the season we have just witnessed at St James Park. Heart of Midlothian lost in extra time in the Scottish cup final and I thought I would never see them come close to lift silverware again!!

I am sorry, I digress….a Championship football club I hear you say.

Pre-match discussions this past season, continuing in the ground, I hear a lot of talk about certain clubs being Championships clubs. Watford, Norwich, Fulham and West Brom to name a few. Clubs who get relegated and promoted. Mitrovic is a Championship striker and so on. At the start of the season, it was our defence being described as Championship quality by the pundits on TV. Newcastle United. A Championship football club.

For my money, the EFL Championship is larger than the 24 clubs that compete in any one season in the current set-up. The clubs that linger in the bottom half of the Premier League, sometimes avoiding relegation, must be considered the same level.

Theoretically, I think there is a 34 club Championship with relegation and promotion somewhere in the middle.

There are then another ten Premier League football clubs competing for the title and European football qualification.

The days of watching a Championship football club at St James Park are surely now ending. It is now 10 years since a Championship manager steered us to European football. Nearly double that since the Champions League music played at St James Park.

The points haul in the second half of the season (38 points in final 19 matches) was indicative of ending the Championship club tag.

Going on a similar run for a full season is still a few years off, I think. We finished the full season with 49 points which is good enough for eleventh or top of the theoretical Championship.

The next transfer window could bring four or five new first team regulars, added to an improving squad.

An improvement of five points next season and then another five points on top of that the season after, would see a return of European football.

Newcastle United – Set to be a Premier League football club in two years time.

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