It’s nearly three weeks since Tranmere defeated Boreham Wood at Wembley to secure a return to the EFL. So, what advantages does promotion to League Two bring Rovers?
Fans are already eagerly anticipating the release of the fixtures for the news such is the delight of finally being free of the National League. As Tranmere begin their ascent (hopefully) back up the football pyramid, here are ten advantages to being back in the Football League.
We’re no longer irrelevant
Let’s face it, like it or not, to non-Tranmere fans we had become pretty irrelevant down in non-league and it was a lonely experience. Beyond the Football League, very little coverage is afforded to clubs and our return to the EFL is very welcome. It’s time for Tranmere to step back in to the football world, and we do so as a reformed club from the one which left a few years ago.
We’re back on FIFA
Gaming fans rejoice, for promotion back to the EFL means that Tranmere will once again feature on the insanely popular football video game franchise, FIFA. The next instalment of EA Sports’ all-conquering title, FIFA 19, will probably be released in the last week of September, and while the addition of the UEFA Champions League to the game will attract most attention, for us, it’s Tranmere’s inclusion in all of its pixelated glory that can be celebrated. You will be able to lead Tranmere up the divisions to play in the Champions League should you wish, or the Europa League if you come up short.
Club colours return
We touched on the use of Jako t-shirts, jumpers and jackets in our article welcoming Chesterfield to the National League, but it will be refreshing to see Tranmere’s coaches, substitutes and even players warming-up pre-match in official issue, Puma Tranmere training gear.
Branding that looks professional
Those blocky squad numbers, the horrible Vanarama National League branding and the Jako match balls are a thing of the past. Bring on the modern EFL branding, the return of Mitre match balls and the slick-looking names and numbers on the back of the shirts. It looks so much more professional than what we have had for the last three years.
No longer do we have to go through the pain of qualifying for the FA Cup. Sure, it was only one game, but actually being qualified and ready to battle it out in the First Round will actually feel like a privelage. It’s possible we could face League One clubs in the First Round, which may include the likes of Sunderland, Portsmouth, Barnsley and Charlton.
We did have Wrexham, Chester and Macclesfield last season, and the likes of Altrincham in previous years outside of the EFL, but next season will see the return of some old school north west league fixtures. Oldham Athletic, Port Vale, Crewe Alexandra and Bury will all return to the fixture list, and of course Macclesfield again.
No more playing league games in front of sub-1000 attendances
Barring something strange happening, Rovers should not have to endure playing league games in front of triple-figure attendances next season. The lowest average in League Two last season was Morecambe at nearly 1,500, while everyone else still in League Two next season average comfortably over 2,000. It may just feel like we’re playing proper football matches again.
Sadly, we may never forget those Tuesday nights when the likes of Gateshead brought less than 20 fans, or the Saturday’s when away followings could barely be seen in the Cowsheds, let alone heard. Next season will still have some small followings, but the north west clubs such as Vale, Oldham and Bury could all bring 1,000 if the circumstances are right – you wouldn’t expect to see any bring sub-500 certainly. Even a few hundred from the likes of Northampton will be refreshing. It will also make a difference to Tranmere’s finances!
The League Cup (Carabao Cup)
Remember that, the League Cup? We reached the final in 2000, we nearly upset Aston Villa in 1994 and we’ve had some incredible nights in the competition in the last few decades. Well, after a painful three-year absence, we’re back in it, and I cannot wait. The draw for round one is always early, last year it was 16th June, so we won’t have long to wait until we’re back among it. And it’s now known as the Carabao Cup.
Value to the club
Promotion back to the EFL is almost certainly financially valuable to Tranmere. It’s hard to find a figure, but with Mark Palios recently saying that every 1,000 people that attend Tranmere games over a season is worth £200,000 to the club, increases in attendances thanks to away followings alone should be helpful. Also, with merchandise such as training gear now having an on-pitch and pitch side prominence again thanks to being able to bin Jako, there could be an increase in sales for products such as that.
Central EFL funding will also go back up and there are probably other revenue streams we won’t be aware of.
This one is contentious, but a small part of me is even excited to be back in the Checkatrade Trophy, previously known as the Leyland DAF Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, among other things. It’s a competition Tranmere have won before and a competition that has been hugely devalued in recent years – many fans have boycotted it over the past two seasons. The inclusion of Premier League youth teams has been very controversial, but at this moment in time, it seems a considerable upgrade from the FA Trophy.
Roll on next season.