Run-in is more nail-biting than expected

Kathy Blake, NCISA In mid-March when I was asked to do the NCISA article for Saturday April 19th I remember thinking at least we would be safe from relegation by then and I could wax lyrical about next season's chances and come out with my usual brand of blind optimism.

Kathy Blake, NCISA

In mid-March when I was asked to do the NCISA article for Saturday April 19th I remember thinking at least we would be safe from relegation by then and I could wax lyrical about next season's chances and come out with my usual brand of blind optimism.

I was forgetting though that this is Norwich City. Nothing is ever that easy for us is it?

Anyone watch Sheffield Wednesday v Plymouth live on television on Monday night? I probably wouldn't have watched this game normally but our current predicament made the result important so I did. Anyone else get the impression Sky are desperate for Wednesday to stay up this year?


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I know it is somewhat natural for the home team to get the lion's share of the TV crew's attention but this was a little bit more than that. Granted, Wednesday deserved their point and the equalising goal alone was worth switching on for. But we had in-depth scenarios of what would happen if this result happened or that result happened.

We had heartfelt descriptions of how a great club was languishing in the wrong bit of the league table. We were treated to close-ups of Wednesday fans going through agonies as their team tried desperately for an equaliser.

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There was a young bloke with his scarf in his mouth. We have those. There was an old boy with 'a lifetime of badges' on his hat. Excuse me, but we have those too. (Step forward Lil Kemp who could outbadge him any day). Its just the same for the rest of us down there, for Leicester, for Coventry, for Southampton and for the other former Premier League sides staring relegation in the face.

It was an important game for Plymouth too, who needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive but that could easily have passed you by. I think we saw one shot of a bloke with a green pointy hat on but that was it as far as the Plymouth fans go.

It also seems this nice warm feeling towards Wednesday extends beyond the confines of the Sky commentary box. The Football League saw fit to fine them a paltry £2000 for having six loan players in their squad against Stoke City last month.

Only four actually played but one of them, Franck Songo'o of Portsmouth, actually scored the equaliser. £2000 is peanuts to a club like Wednesday and other clubs might actually consider this an acceptable price to pay at such a crucial stage of the season and decide to flout the rules as well.

If Stoke miss out on promotion by two points this year it could cost them £30 million, considerably more than Wednesday's fine. Even in village football you can get points deducted or thrown out of cup competitions for fielding an ineligible player. I believe Bury suffered a similar fate a couple of years back in the FA Cup. It all seems very unfair to me.

The common currency of football right through from the Premiership to youth team leagues is points. That is what you should lose if you break the rules.

Don't think for one minute I say this hoping it could keep City up. If we survive, as I have always thought we would, it must be by our own efforts not by default.

Likewise, if the unthinkable happens and we go down it will be because of a catalogue of mistakes by lots of different people not by dodgy decision-making by the football league officialdom. But it still doesn't make it all right.

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