Promotion to the Premier League is seen as the top aim for each and every side in England. Those teams who make it are said to have achieved entrance to the ‘promised land’ of football.
In reality, the top division in the UK - and, dare I say it, in world football - isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be.
The hype of visiting some of the biggest stadiums in the country is one of the factors which makes the Premier League a division every team aspires to be. However, this is an illusion and one which wears off after a certain amount of time.
It’s all well and good playing against these big sides and playing in front of 60/70,000 people, but getting the results to survive is the bread and butter of football. If not, then no team will remain in the apparent dreamland for long.
It goes without saying that the multi million pounds of the Premier League make it the division everyone wants to be in. For over half of the clubs that play in it, the only realistic aim they have is to avoid relegation. This is something which can become tedious after some time.
For Sunderland, it got to a point that each season ended in the relief of survival but once the dust settled we reached the conclusion that it wasn’t that much of an achievement.
For this reason, supporters of those sides who scrape up in the Premier League shouldn’t shun the thought of playing a few campaigns down in the lower leagues.
Surely the baseline desire for a football fan is to see their team win matches, regardless of the level they play at?
On a personal note, if Sunderland have to go down to the Northern Premier League to win matches then I’ll take it and book my trip to South Shields. No fans can think their side are too good for a stint in the lower leagues; it looks to do some teams the world of good.
Look at Wolves for example, they won League One in the 2013-14 season and they have stormed to the Premier League in style this season. A drop into the lower leagues shouldn’t always be viewed as a negative and there are plenty of football fans who would agree.
Playing in the Premier League is a phenomenal experience, and it contains some of the world’s biggest stadiums and best players, but it doesn’t need to be viewed as the be all and end all in terms of a football clubs aspirations.
The further down the football league you go, the more connected the players seem to the supporters. The quality might not be there, but the standard is much more honest and no football club should feel they are too good for these divisions.
Sunderland aren’t the first team to experience relegation two years in a row and it would be surprising if we were to be the last. It will be a blow to any side to fall from grace in such a way, but a stint in the lower reaches of the English football pyramid provides an ideal opportunity for a clear out and a chance to win some more matches; something which any football club needs in order to function efficiently.
We might have one season in the third tier, we might have five. One thing for sure is that we shouldn’t be disappointed that the Premier League will be out of reach for the foreseeable future.