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Notts County's title but Rochdale's triumph

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Paul Fletcher | 07:00 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

At Meadow Lane.

Notts County all but secured the League Two title with their deserved victory over Rochdale on Tuesday, but the greater achievement this season still rests with the visitors.

Rochdale, like County, secured automatic promotion last Saturday. In doing so they ended a 36-year tenure in the bottom tier of English football. One of the football's most unwanted statistics was laid to rest.

Youngsters who experienced Dale's relegation in 1974 are mature adults now, many of whom were reduced to tears when their team's 1-0 win over Northampton ensured they will play League One football next season.

Nick Brierley has not missed a Rochdale game since 1987 and was one of the tearful grown men at Spotland.

On Saturday evening he travelled the short distance from the ground to 'headquarters', known to the rest of us as The Cemetery pub. The landlady put on a spread and later in the evening the club's chairman Chris Dunphy and his fellow directors turned up and joined in with the celebrating, singing and hugging.

It must have been an evening of the greatest, purest pleasure; the sort that follows so many years of underachievement and disappointment.

Rochdale celebrate winning promotion Rochdale's promotion prompted great scenes of celebration

As Brierley travelled down to Tuesday's match at Notts he explained to me how his years of loyal support had impacted upon his expectations. I suspect it is a sentiment that chimes with fans of many clubs.

"Supporting Rochdale is a lesson for life in that you learn to accept disappointment," said the affable Brierley. "We are quite a stoical breed and have come to expect failure. Even in recent weeks when we were on the verge of going up there was always doubt."

Until Keith Hill took over as Dale manager in December 2006, bringing in David Flitcroft as his assistant, Brierley always thought that Rochdale would only ever leave the fourth tier by slipping down rather than climbing out - but there can be no doubt that his team deserve their promotion.

They were blunt in attack at County and, truth be told, just one goal in their last five games illustrates how their form has fallen away over recent weeks. But nonetheless there were glimpses on Tuesday of the measured possession football that Hill's team have displayed so often this season.

Dale have scored 80 goals and done so despite working within a modest budget.

It was not for nothing that the Rochdale fans chanted as their County counterparts: "We're going up and we pay our bills."

Hill had stoked up the sense of anticipation ahead of the top-of-the-table clash by having a very vocal dig at County's spending this season.

"If we can't catch Notts County, I'm sure the tax man will," remarked Hill with a quip that drew a very public response from County chairman Ray Trew.

The likeable and upbeat Hill was barracked by the home support throughout at Meadow Lane, while Flitcroft exchanged angry words with several Notts supporters as the half-time whistle sounded.

Hill repeatedly stated afterwards that he revelled in being part of a big-match atmosphere and there can be no doubt that the 10,536 in attendance made for a very lively 90 minutes.

The game was settled by Lee Hughes's 31st goal of the season and came after two Rochdale players left a loose ball to each other, with Notts' Neal Bishop eventually pouncing before passing to the prolific striker.

"To me, to you, to B&Q, it was like watching the Chuckle Brothers," was Hill's pithy assessment.

The Rochdale boss added that his bugbear with County was not with Trew, who has worked hard to clean up the situation he inherited after becoming chairman in February, or the management and playing staff.

Hill is angry that the mysterious Munto Finance consortium was allowed to take over at County last summer and assemble a squad that, it has since emerged, they obviously could not afford.

"Ray Trew has been very honest but what happened before is unacceptable in football," said Hill.

The club breached the Football League's salary cap regulations of 60% of turnover plus shareholders' donations.

Lee Hughes slots home the winning goalLee Hughes (centre) has been a prolific scorer for County this season

Trew claims to have the situation under control but the transfer embargo placed on the club hardly hurt since their high-quality squad was already in place.

In contrast, succeeding despite the constraints placed upon their club is an obvious and worthy source of pride to Hill and Rochdale's supporters. I got the very definite sense that they feel they occupy the moral high ground on this issue.

Hill can bask, at least momentarily, in the glory of what he has achieved this campaign but it is obvious that his mind has already moved on to planning next season.

He lost key striker Adam Le Fondre to Rotherham last summer and the influential Will Buckley in January. Finances and wage restrictions mean that he will lose many of the side that have won promotion.

"The finances next season will be relatively similar to this and we will be expected to pull a few more rabbits out of the hat," said the Dale boss.

"When we've got about six left in the squad we'll have to build all over again. I expect to be recruiting in excess of 14 players."

Rochdale scaled their Everest this season with a blend of spirit, unity and determination.

Their route to the top has been very different to County's, who have got through three owners and four managers, faced a winding-up order and, at one time or another, had Sven-Goran Eriksson and Sol Campbell at the club during a very turbulent campaign.
It looked at one point as though County would succumb to the storm clouds that threatened to engulf them.

But the arrival of manager Steve Cotterill in February provided some much needed leadership. He has obviously worked hard to steel his side's defence and a record of 12 wins and two draws in his 14 games in charge is testimony to his impact.

I'm not sure whether County fans feel relief or, after several seasons at the wrong end of the table, are simple revelling in success. What is for certain is that it would have been a disaster if a squad with County's quality did not win promotion.

Whether their high-roller status will continue into next season is extremely doubtful. Trew is preaching common sense, not selling impossible dreams.

It looks inevitable that the club will lose players such as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who currently earns a five-figure wage, and thus Cotterill, like Hill, might have some rebuilding to do over the summer.

But the next time they meet will be in a League One fixture and to supporters of both clubs that must be a point of the greatest satisfaction.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Well done to both clubs

  • Comment number 2.

    Good to see the BBC still aren't bitter :s

    May I also ask whether Rochdale's winding up order petition delivered to them in September is a sign of them living within their means?

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm getting a little p***ed off with this now. Can Paul Fletcher tell me how Rochdale have been living within their means, having had a winding up order against them in September?

    Can I ask how many loans players Rochdale have used this season against the number of loan players Notts have used?

    According to the Football League, Notts have used 26 players, Rochdale have used 37.... oh dear poor "lil" Rochdale have had to struggle along with limited resources but have done it in the "right way".

    Can I also remind you that apart from Jackson and Schmeichel, this squad was put together prior to the Mungo takeover, but don't let facts get in the way of your la la view of the world.

    Take the Rose Tinted glasses off Fletcher!!

  • Comment number 4.

    What a badly researched and one sided article. I don't pay my licence fee to read biased rubbish like this. Apart form totally ignoring (or being unaware, due to a lack of research) that Rochdale too had faced a winding up order, there is this:

    "What is for certain is that it would have been a disaster if a squad with County's quality did not win promotion."

    Funny that Paul, because if you look back at your own articles, you will notice that you predicted County would struggle to get promoted back in August. Remember they finished 19th last season, you said at the time. But never mind the facts, let's rewrite history.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm afraid you've got it totally wrong about Hill's behaviour. In normal circumstances Notts fans would be applauding Rochdale's achievements - they are recognised as a well liked, down to earth club who deserve some success.

    Unfortunately Hill's ill informed and ungracious remarks have soured things. Every time he is interviewed there is a snide remark. I have not heard him qualify a single one of them by saying his views are about Munto rather than the club now. Contrast this with the dignified way in which Steve Cotterill praised Rochdale's players after last night's game.

  • Comment number 6.

    There is one glaring thing that you all seem to miss out on your posts, Rochdale as a club was faced with a debt and instead of increasing the debt we sold key players as mentioned in the perfectly correct article to pay bills and keep the club afloat unlike your good selves who just continued to OVERSPEND, as for your comments about our club loaning players just remind us all what rule we broke when doing this option? A facility thats open to every honest and well run club throughout the country, the football league saw fit to place a block on 2 certain clubs from loaning players namely your good self and Bournemouth and there's a glaring similarity to both clubs, you where both living beyond your means? It's not biased reporting it's called stating the facts, anyway I enjoyed the game last night and on chances created the best side won and roll on next season, let's hope another sugar daddy can pump millions into your club just to keep you afloat and chip some more off your debts

  • Comment number 7.

    A touch niave that you would expect a blog to be unbiased...or that a BBC article on lower league football would have any kind of 'research' carried out on it!!

    Rochdale had a winding up order presented, the club satisfied the order and continue to operate. If the club had operated outwith the legal system then they would have been punished accordingly.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Rochdale had a winding up order presented, the club satisfied the order and continue to operate. If the club had operated outwith the legal system then they would have been punished accordingly."

    Exactly the same applies to Notts, but the winding up petition is used as a stick to beat us. Pot, kettle, black.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good blog. I was at the Northampton promotion game and have blogged about it at [which you can also get by clicking on my name].

  • Comment number 10.

    "There is one glaring thing that you all seem to miss out on your posts, Rochdale as a club was faced with a debt and instead of increasing the debt we sold key players as mentioned in the perfectly correct article to pay bills and keep the club afloat unlike your good selves who just continued to OVERSPEND"

    Perhaps you could tell us all who exactly we overspent on after our own winding-up order? To be honest, the imaginary Munto money was not 'spent' well, our better players were brought in before Munto arrived. The chances of unloading players like Akinbiyi in the January transfer window were always slim. They became non-existent when the transfer embargo was applied.

    Ideally, neither club would have gone as far as allowing an HMRC winding up order to be issued. Ours happened because our owners pulled out. What was Rochdale's excuse? It's laughable to suggest that it's good financial management to wait until the order and then sell your best players. If any clubs have cause for complaint, they are not Rochdale, who have, within the smaller scale of their own limited ambitions, behaved recklessly.

    "let's hope another sugar daddy can pump millions into your club just to keep you afloat and chip some more off your debts"

    Ah, the bitterness! On taking over, Ray Trew described Notts County as an institution. We are the world's oldest league club and a founder member of the league. We have won the FA Cup and actually played in the top flight, Hell, we were the first club ever to be relegated. No wonder we find it easier to attract investment than the likes of Rochdale. But we don't need another sugar daddy, thanks, we're very happy with the one we've already got.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like to congratulate Notts County on gaining promotion with some exciting attacking football. I'm also not ashamed to support the club, which the media would have me believe is a bad thing ! The fans welcomed the investment with open arms. Why would they do anything else ? It's not our fault it went pear-shaped. The fans have turned out in force this season. 10 and a half thousand for a midweek match is astonishing. Ray Trew is getting everything back to normal and should be congratulated. You show me one club that wouldn't have accepted Munto's offer, and would voluntarily relinquish promotion on moral grounds. yeah right !

  • Comment number 12.

    There are none so blind as those who will not see. County fans need to get down from their imaginary towers, and listen to what other fans really think about their club. The damage this season has done to their reputation will take many years to restore. Of course, it isn't the fans fault, but that's life. Nobody doubts that Ray Trew has done his best to salvage a messy situation, but the club cannot selectively airbrush what happened before his arrival. At £6.9 million in debt, the club were insolvent and under Company Law, were trading illegally. I'm sure there are revelations waiting to be uncovered. Now tell me, what is it that Magpies are noted for....................oh yes, of course !! Well done, Rochdale. That's the way to do it.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Rochdale had a winding up order presented, the club satisfied the order and continue to operate. If the club had operated outwith the legal system then they would have been punished accordingly."

    Exactly the same applies to Notts, but the winding up petition is used as a stick to beat us. Pot, kettle, black.

    I would suggest the way the two clubs have been run and the way things have been handled over the last 12 months have been anything but similar

  • Comment number 14.

    The reason rochdale had a winding up order was because they didnt pay their debts,thats why it was a winding up order and not just a debt!
    they was lucky they had a player to sell,if nobody came in for him then what.
    RAY TREW has already stated money will be available next season,and he's sold one of his business's to further his desire to see notts progress!
    we have had less players and double the gate of rochdale so why cant we pay more for our players?
    For half a season we was a circus created by fraudsters,but the latter part of the season we have got our house in order the debt is halved and the wages are under 60%,but eh we should all ignore that side and keep moaning on!

  • Comment number 15.

    End of the season, time to put the bickering aside and just congratulate both clubs surely?

    I still think the real success of league two has been totally passed by on this blog anyway.

    Burton Albion, my home town club.

    First ever season in the league.

    First ever season as a full time professional club.

    Largely written off after Clough left for Derby.

    Ups and downs through the season, but solid mid table finish, that has to be a success story in its own right.

  • Comment number 16.

    Feel a bit sorry for Bournemouth that they are not even mentioned in this blog. They have played a whole season under a transfer embargo and have only been able to field a full squad with seven subs a handful of times.

    A team that has had 27 points deducted over three seasons, had HMRC breathing down their neck this season and not been able to sign anyone, not even on loan. Surely a greater achievement than both these clubs put together. Maybe once they secure promotion they will be given their own blog.

  • Comment number 17.

    paulh its always what other fans think,everyone seems to put that and speak for everyone else!
    other fans say what they see,and most of that is media based.
    notts fans have seen alot more about this and are very happy with the light at the end of the tunnel.
    mr hill has got to concentrate on rochdale and next season instead of doing our team talk and it back firing.
    next season when you play against other teams they will want nothing more than to see rochdale beneath them,footballs a fickle game.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry to burst both your bubble County and Rochdale but the best achievement in League Two is yet to come (Fingers Crossed!!)

    Bournemouth have been up against it since they started the league. They have played without a full bench on many occasions and have been amazing. There promotion will eclipse both yours in my eyes.

    But still well done to both County and Notts, both good stories! See you in League One next season!

  • Comment number 19.

    A well written blog. Sums up my feelings today. We lost a 'title decider' but we play good football, play a fair game and live within our means. This morning i'm very proud of my team and very proud of our promotion, which has been achieved without building up several million pounds of debt.

    Keith Hill (Note to Notts County fans, it's spelt KEITH and not KIETH) was told to finish in the top 10 with his small budget, Amazingly we've gone up automatically and been top of the league most of the season. Notts County's plan was to buy their way out of the league, which they've done, and thankfully for them they bought their way to promotion rather than bankruptcy - without their new chairman it could well have been the latter. Congratulations to them.

  • Comment number 20.

    Congratulations to Notts., I would have congratulated Rochdale but with their manager's petty comments I hope they come straight back down again, Notts. might as well after they have to let Schmeichel go but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't, come on you pies.

  • Comment number 21.


    I used to like reading your blogs until this one.

    yet another post by someone seizing upon the opportunity to have a dig at Notts County without actually understanding all of the facts and the history around the club.

    What you forget Paul is that at the start of the season any other club in League 2, hell most of the clubs outside the premier league would have loved the "takeover" that County went through, millions (supposedly) to spend, an International Manager joining as director of football, quality players such as Campbell and Schmeichel couldn't get any better...

    Sadly for the most depressed fans in football (FACT) it all turned out to be yet another pipe dream for County (and we have had several over the years) and in all honesty it's probably only because Sven was involved in this one that you lot bothered to take notice in the first place.

    Munto broke more rules than you can shake a stick at so you can not blame the club or the fans, blame the Munto group who mysteriously vanished. Yet did the club really get an advantage out of this? Not really, we only bought one or two players at most and then there was a large exodus of staff from the club... you journos are keen to write about off field problems affecting players and teams (well that's been Liverpool's excuse for years)so how can it now not apply? before Cotterill and Trews' take over we were only in the play offs and no one was whining's since Rochdale have thrown their lead away that the bitchiness has started..

    You also forget that we have been on a downer for years, you forget that in our catchment area (including our own city) we have had to compete with far more successful clubs, we've skirted with administration for years and years it has been a struggle. The vision we were all sold seemed to be the answer to our prayers, what's coming out now is the jealousy from supporters of other clubs who say that our apparent rule breaking is the only reason we got promoted which is total tripe.

    Transfer embargos, players leaving, managerial changes, threats of administration yet despite all this the players got through it. That's the togetherness of the squad, that's the mark of good managers (McParland and now Cotteril).

    We have a big stadium and hard core support, we've had a good cup run so we've made some money. I just hope we go on to win the league so we can stick 2 fingers up at all of you bitter fans and journos. Our club has been through more in the last ten years than most have in their lifetime, it's about time we had some success.

    if you want to write an article about money in football and buying success and what might happen if sugar daddies pull out I suggest you focus on Chelsea and City and leave us in peace


  • Comment number 22.

    As a Shrewsbury fan I'd like to say congratulations to Rochdale on a great achievement. You were the best team to play us this season and played football that made us look like fools (well many other teams managed the last bit). Rochdale's promotion is a great achievement seeing as how they have fairly low gates, and had to see some key players from last season such as De Foundre to balance the books.

    And then there's Notts County. A side that went out and have reportedly payed around £750,000 for a goalkeeper, who is paid a five figure fee in wages, and that alone can't be far off what some other clubs in this division's entire wage budget is. Reportedly paying Campbell premiership wages was obviously ludicrous. And as for they've only been offering these high wages when Munto took over, how was it that a club who's average attendance last season was only 4,445 (Notts County's website) then went out and offered our only Ben Davies double the offer that we did?

    Oh and that's not even mentioning that striker you have who is extremely unpopular among all fans to say the least.

    In fairness to them though the new chairman Trew, seems to have his head screwed on and I was delighted to hear that he said that he would be honouring all debts rather taking the easy option out of administration - what a refreshing honourable change - take note portsmouth, leeds, etc

  • Comment number 23.

    see the bitter shrews have not changed!

    Half the season in "SIMMO WE TRUST" the other half "SIMMO OUT".

    Its a good job davies did get out or it would have been another season lost in the depths of a depressing team!

    At least now he's being noticed as a talant.............

    i would just like to congratulate shrewsbury supporters for doing nothing but moan whinge and whine all season!

  • Comment number 24.

    real winners? AFC Bournemouth. Less than a shoestring. Unable to sign players from any level, thus missing out on possible find of the season Charlie Austin who was at Poole Town and was unable to join Bournemouth due to transfer ban. Automatic promotion will be a small miracle!

  • Comment number 25.

    Well done to Rochdale their (and Bournemouth too) achievement is much more impressive than the way Notts County have gone about this season. I can see this short sighted approach of signing mercenaries like Lee Hughes and Kasper Schmeichel backfiring next season and them being relegated back to league 2.

    The financial problems of Rochdale and Bournemouth are a symptom of the pressures to compete in the financial craziness of the modern game and i'm sure both clubs would have been happy with a decent mid-table finish at the start of the season. County on the other hand have made a once highly regarded, historic club into a laughing stock (Eriksson, Campbell...honestly!)chasing promotion at all 'costs', not the fans fault I agree but a little humility goes a long way in these circumstances, take your promotion and stop trying to defend the actions of your club over the season it is precisely this kind of thing that leads smaller clubs into trouble in the first place.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well done to both clubs and hopefully Bournemouth will be joining them in Promotion celebration very soon. Rochdale were the best team that I saw at Dean Court this year and that is a testament to their Manager.
    I would agree with some comments made about Keith Hill's remarks as he made similar comments regarding Bournemouth, insinuating that have spent big time and that they should continue to be punished. Interestingly, his comments stopped once it was clear that we were not going to trouble Rochdale for the Championship.
    Bournemouth have not paid out any large/medium transfer sums for years.They do not pay wages above the average. Sean O'Driscoll left and a good many other young players with him as we couldnt pay them wages comparable to those in League 1 a few seasons ago.
    Our problems came from having to finance a new stadium and lots of mismanagement from boardroom level and if there were overspends, they certainly were not on the pitch.
    The fans have been hit hard with succesive points deductions which have all been accepted and a transfer embargo all season which has had the result of players having to play with injuries when they should have been rested.The Football league have certainly not been sympathetic and even refused to allow us to sign a player who would have played for no wages.
    Eddie Howe and the team have done a tremendous job and I doubt if many pundits at the start of the season would have even put us challenging for a play off place,let alone automatic promotion.

  • Comment number 27.

    What about the acheivements of Port Vale this season, a club that are perennial relegation dodgers with a tiny budget. They have played some very good football this year and Micky Adams has done a great job, especially away from home where over the past few years Vale have been woeful.
    Well done to all the squad for a great season and lets hope it can continue all the way to wembley.

  • Comment number 28.

    23. At 10:39am on 21 Apr 2010, cliftonmugpie wrote:
    see the bitter shrews have not changed!

    Half the season in "SIMMO WE TRUST" the other half "SIMMO OUT".

    Its a good job davies did get out or it would have been another season lost in the depths of a depressing team!

    At least now he's being noticed as a talant.............

    i would just like to congratulate shrewsbury supporters for doing nothing but moan whinge and whine all season!

    Complain about this comment

    Nice how you tar everyone with the same description. Not really sure how your in any position to attack other fans opinions of their own managers - McPharland ring any bells?

    Yeh Davies was hardly noticed last season at all was he? Oh no wait he was named in the division 2 of the season.

    I should have complemented bournemouth too, hopefully they can secure promotion - a club that has been restricted from signing anyone all season and hasn't benefitted from massive high earners that were in place before the embargo too. Eddie Howe is my pick as manager of the year for division 2.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi Fletch - would like to put something into the mix which bugs me with all this. Just checked and Kasper Schmeichel played 29 times for Bury the other season - did they complain at having his services then? I know Notts "bought" Schmeichel and god knows how they funded that - all part of the £6.9m debt I suppose - but had Notts taken Schmeichel on loan for the season - would that have been such a crime - its effectively what Bury did having him for 2/3rds of their season surely. Lee Hughes was playing for Oldham last season - hardly on the fringes of the Championship - its a more than 50/50 bet that as he seemed set on moving on after fall outs with management, that at his age, the next club would have been in League Two or abroad. He was always bound for League Two so why not Notts? It goes on - Ben Davies was already a league two player etc etc. My point is, listening to Keith Hill and others - you would have thought Notts had brought in Messi, Ronaldo and Cassillas to win the league - the reality is more basic obviously. I wish Rochdale well - they looked very strong and capable from what I saw last night and I suspect I wasnt the only Notts fan who was embarrassed by events earlier in the season. It was always too good to be true and the comments of a small minority of Notts fans were lamentable. But just a thought - should we not be addressing the Football League over just exactly what it was they saw in paperwork to convince them to sanction the Munto fiasco? They hold the guilt for much of this more than any genuine person without a big gob attached to Notts County. And a final thought - the new Football League chairman has suggested there may be need to re-open investigations into events at Notts last summer. Fine, but when he does, can he look at events at Leicester City when they stuck two fingers up to the local business community by going into administration owing over £50m then getting promoted - when he does, he may just recall he was chairman of Leicester City that year!
    Bring on the next blog! Well done Dale - my recollection goes back to watching you at Notts in the late sixties and seventies so forget the current bickering from fans too young to remember - you deserve your promotion and so do Notts - but lets debate the rights and wrongs with a little more depth - or better still, lets just go on holiday and forget it!

  • Comment number 30.

    it was not the supporters who got rid of "charlie" it was munto!

    and the first time ever i agree with a shrew yes eddie howe manager of div2 for the season!

  • Comment number 31.

    Brilliant blog, and I think that's reflected in the amount of replies its getting (whether negative or positive). Notts County fans appear, unfortunately, to have turned from being a nice bunch to.......well, a bit of a deluded bunch, all in the space of one season.

    It's not just Rochdale fans that have taken issue with your method of promotion, it's the National Media (who, according to Notts fans, are ALL wrong), and opposition fans. Think realistically for a second, are all these people criticising your club wrong? I'll let you think about that for yourself.

    And can I just say, well done to Bournemouth if they manage promotion this season, Eddie Howe really has done a phenomenal job. A mention aswell to Morecambe, who's season has particularly impressed me.

    Onwards and upwards, bring on the League One tour!

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with an earlier post, the real story is Bournemouth's imminent promotion on little to no money a year after being a 'lead pipe cinch' to get relegated. Good luck to all of them next season, but it's Bournemouth's success that makes me proud to be a football follower.

  • Comment number 33.

    Congratulations to Notts County, Rochdale and Bournemouth. Getting promotion is a massive achievement, one that my club hasn't managed, and all credit is due.

    However, I'd really wonder what on earth the Notts County fans are on. Do they want some salt with their chips?

    The simple fact is that Notts County have bought players- like Schmeichel and Hughes- that they couldn't have afforded without Munto. And then when Munto disappear they still have their players, and the rest of the division just has to lump it. Spending money they don't have is cheating and they've been extremely lucky to avoid administration so far. It will be interesting to see if they continue to avoid it.

    Rochdale were served with a winding up order, but that doesn't signify much anymore. HMRC play hardball with everyone, but the point is that Rochdale paid their debts in full and Notts County have not.

    It is nothing against Notts County to point out these facts. It isn't "bias" and Hill is right to draw attention to what has happened. Personally I've always been fond of Notts County, but the reaction of the fans recently has made me consider my views. The fans have been screwed as much as the rest of League Two, but rather than admit that they just reckon everyone else is jealous and out to get them.

    Bournemouth, like my club, have suffered massively with the effects of bad management in the past, so for them to be effectively promoted is probably a bigger achievement even than Rochdale's.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well, as per usual Notts are being berated for what has happened effectively out of our control. Every team in the league would have said yes to Munto with the promises we'd been given. Now we are being attacked because our owner is going deep into his own pockets to pay the wages. Yeah, we'll have to offload Schemeichel, Hawley, Akinbiyi and probably Jackson, but actually only one of those players starts in the team. Going from the back, 3 of the 4 players in our rock of a defence (the best in the league) were here last season, and the other (Lee) signed before Munto. Bishop and Ravenhill both also arrived, on frees like Lee, before Munto was heard of. Westcarr was released from Kettering ffs. Davies, fair enough. Hughes, fair enough. Neither cost us any actual transfer fees, though. Facey was still here from last season. Rodgers was signed on a free, admittedly after Munto but not on crazy wages.

    None of you columnists have even THOUGHT to look at this, and neither have the Rochdale fans. 'Oh but our HMRC debt was smaller than yours' - £100k to £300k, and we average more than double your home attendance, coupled with a fantastic cup run, and the extra money we get from being CHAMPIONS, easily covers it. Regardless of the amount, you had to sell one of your best players to stay afloat. You really think you can do well in league 1? Only time will tell, but I like our chances much better.

  • Comment number 36.

    Many thanks for all the forthright comments - I firmly believe that a core role for these blogs is to stimulate debate.

    I'm really genuinely sorry that Notts fans feel that I'm trying to stick the boot in on them - I'm not.

    I just think that Rochdale going up after so many years is such a great, great story of the underdog enjoying his day in the sun that it eclipses what has been a campaign of turmoil, excitement, achievement and unpredictability at County.

    I also agree with the posts suggesting that Bournemouth's achievement will be staggering if they - as now seems very likely - clinch the third automatic spot.

    They have been down to the bare bones all season, redefining what it is to work with a threadbare squad. Boss Eddie Howe has done a brilliant job - as I highlighted in the piece I wrote about him several months ago.

    As for the finances at Notts and Rochdale - it is clearly an incredibly sore point for County supporters, who feel they have been the victims of one cheap shot after another. You only have to look at the 606 pages to realise that the constant prodding from Hill is a major irritant.

    I thought it was interesting that Hill clarified last night who/what at County annoyed him - the actions of Munto Finance and what he believes to be a lack of subsequent severe punishment.

    Rochdale faced a winding-up order not because they had overspent in a wildly ambitious dream they could not afford but because they are in a permanent struggle to balance the books. I'm not saying it was necessarily good governance that the situation got to that stage but they insisted at the time it was the impact of a harsh economic environment.

    I actually thought I'd made it pretty clear in the piece that Ray Trew had been a force for good at County so far - and seems determined to make sure the club are well-run in the future.

    This season cannot have been easy for County supporters, especially those who bought into the charade they were sold last summer.

    But you have come out of it as champions of League Two - please make sure you enjoy that feeling over the summer.

    However, I'd love to know - do you think you will keep hold of all your high earners?

  • Comment number 37.

    As previously just posted, Paul - We'll lose most of them. But they aren't the core of our team.

  • Comment number 38.

    Does anyone else remember what happened in the 1999/2000 season to Chesterfield??????? We went through a similar situation to Notts County (although not on such a grand scale) when D*****n B***n (currently in jail for Tax evasion I think, amongst other things) took us over and conned us all. So I congratulate Notts County's current chairman on realising what was happening and trying to sort it out as fast as humanly possible before the sky fell in. I also recall Brighton, Torquay, Barnet and others wanting us thrown out of the league altogether!!!! Thank god we wern't. Can I also congratulate Rochdale on achieving a long awaited promotion (Rochfail no longer) and hope that Bournemouth follow you up. Then its just down to the next 7 teams to sort ourselves out for the playoffs (hoping that we're one of them, if we remember how to play properly.)

  • Comment number 39.

    Another thing worth looking at Paul would be Rochdale's swift dealing with the winding up order, as we sold Adam Le Fondre almost immediately. The Notts County situation seemed to go on for an age, before eventually a 'transfer embargo' was seen as sufficient punishment (which in itself is a nonsense).

    There's no doubt about it, Ray Trew is not to blame for this mess, and neither are the fans, but the way in which both have put themselves across is truly embarassing. I know also that Ray Trew posts on the Notts County messageboard, making his own snipes at Rochdale. Not to mention his comment when taking over, that Rochdale fans 'would only bring a taxi-load' in the game at Meadow Lane. As it turned out, we tripled the amount of fans who visited Spotland from Nottingham earlier in the season. All these are 'facts', but of course, I expect them to be disputed by those at Notts County, as everything said against their club is.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with Machar Smith. Its a great achievement for Dale.

    But I also think that both teams got promoted to League 1 - so both sets of fans should be content.

  • Comment number 42.

    MagpieSean stfu, you talk out of your arse tbh, you are obvs not in debt, your club is one of the richest clubs in the lower leagues cos of the simple reason of random arabs, rochdale stick to the rules of buying people for low money then have to sell them for only abit higheer unfortuntly, there are so many ex rochdale players in higher leagues, you have just bought the league this season and you think your good, well done your top scorer is a muderer who is there because you doubled his wages and begged him, why do you think Oldham relesed him???


    We are in a lot of debt, for one. But manageable with the assets we have (Schemeicel, Jackson).

    The random arabs aren't there and never were, note, debt. Do you even know anything about this situation at all?

    Lee Hughes is not a murderer, by the strictest letter of the law. Unless Rochdale's championship hopes count, he has never killed anything purposefully. And why should we not have begged him to come, he's scored 31 goals this season SO FAR. He, like every other criminal who is not mental or a serial killer, deserves a second chance. I'm not sure of the reoffending numbers but a hell of a lot of criminals end up back in jail; his second chance at football has given him the chance to be close to a normal person again. I'm sure you'll say he doesn't deserve that; I believe most criminals do.

  • Comment number 43.

    Why is Lee Hughes spilling into this discussion? He might be the worst character in sport (the pantomine villain, if you will), but his past has nothing to do with this situation.

  • Comment number 44.

    yeah, your only in debt cos you bought so many players, kasper schemical is on like 25k, sol campbell was on like 50k, lee hughes is on to much , schemical could get on any championship side same with karl hawley and lee hughes could get on any league 1 side so could jonny jackson and ben davies etc...... your cheating by going like 50% over your wage cap and just buying the league, your spoiling football cant you see!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Christian Russell, you are an uninformed oaf, sir, and I have nothing more to do with you.

    DalePea, he mentioned it, so I thought I'd set him straight. Pet peeve of mine, if you will.

  • Comment number 46.

    the difference between Rochdale and Notts Co this season is that Rochdale have gone about their business the right way by slowly building up a good team that sticks to a budget, where as Notts co have tried to go about it too quickly and it all fell through for them, for example Craig Dawson is proably Rochdale's best player this season and he is a local lad who supports the team as well so he want the team to do well, where as Lee Hughes who has probaly your best player this season does not care about County, only where his next wage packet is coming from! and has to your comment about me being an uniformed oaf, thats pathetic to know that this season you maybe haven't gone about winning the league properly and have broke rules along the way but you know im right so just give up.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sorry to say this Christian Russell, but you're not putting yourself or our club across well at all, and even as a Dale fan I feel you exaggerating the numbers.

  • Comment number 48.

    Having read into both clubs and what has happened this year, I think that the reaction and comments from Notts County Fans proves that deep down they know what has happened at their club to be wrong. They have had a massive unfair advantage. Cheating? Not sure, but I suspect they are another Stockport or Darlington inwaiting. Most of the players mentioned in the comments will be off very soon....

    It could be that both teams only enjoy one season in League 1, but for very different reasons.....

  • Comment number 49.

    no one else will defend well i thought it was our club DalePea, well maybe it's just me that will defend them to the death sooo

  • Comment number 50.

    afootiefan you are sooo right

  • Comment number 51.

    I'd love to know how much has been 'pumped' in to make the wage bill nearly 6% UNDER the 60% required bill.

    With the finance from Munto Finance being more or less a hoax, where has all the money come from?

    It is a shallow promotion IMO

  • Comment number 52.

    OMG!!!! chris russell you are a fat ugly idiot. u gink u no everything bout footie but you just are a glory fan. I bet u have started to go this year and never else

  • Comment number 53.

    "It was not for nothing that the Rochdale fans chanted as their County counterparts: "We're going up and we pay our bills.""

    If they pay their bills, why did HMRC issue a winding up order during THIS season?

    "Dale have scored 80 goals and done so despite working within a modest budget."

    I would be interested to know what proportion Rochdale paid towards the many (emergency?) loan players that they have used during the season.

    Notts players might be very well paid, but they are paid by Notts County FC, not by other teams.

  • Comment number 54.

    how do you know im fat and ugly? notts county sounds like you are the glory fan not me

  • Comment number 55.

    ha ha ha kaspers gone from 10k to 25k(fool).

    you all talk about half a season of turmoil at notts,none of you blind people mention the other half of us getting it right off the pitch,nobody talks about us paying our debts,you all lose sight of us operating within the rules now,we turned it around thanks to ray trew and double gates and a good fa cup run.
    rochdale have gone through 37 players this season,notts have 19 players,why cant notts pay more?
    its better to pay one player 5k aweek to play than 5 players 1.5k aweek to sit on the bench.
    there are far to many uninformed people sitting behind computor screens jumping on a band wagon that ignore the true facts and print what they believe is the truth before fully knowing it!

  • Comment number 56.

    christian you are a glory and you think you know everthing about football but you nothing!!!!

  • Comment number 57.

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  • Comment number 58.

    Notts fan im not saying were perfect but we have done it by the rules perfectly, and the winding up order was because we have such a modest budget but we worked past that and carried on as normal

  • Comment number 59.

    what sad people actually watch footy its all about CODDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!

  • Comment number 60.

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  • Comment number 61.

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  • Comment number 62.

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  • Comment number 63.

    There are so many inaccuracies on here, both in the original blog and some responses that it would take an age to respond to them all but to respond to a few:

    "It was not for nothing that the Rochdale fans chanted as their County counterparts: "We're going up and we pay our bills.""

    So are Notts, all creditors are being paid off.

    Rochdale have had two winding up orders in three years, so are hardly an example of financial probity.

    The comment about Rochdale going about things the right way using 'local lads' is laughable. Notts had to disband the entire (and successful - Leon Best, David McGoldrick, Kelvin Wilson, Jermaine Pennant etc) youth set up as the club had insufficient funds to continue it. Thats why we dont have any local lads, the youth set up has now returned and although in its infancy, will hopefully produce players of quality.

    As for our high earners, we have one unsustainable high earner. However, you wont hear any complaints from him that he hasnt been paid on time or in full, because he has...every month. So to say Notts 'cant afford him' isnt actually true.

    In terms of keeping our high earners, Kasper will undoubtedly go, Akinbuyi (clearly we have gained a huge advantage from having him with us, you just have to look at the number of games he has started, and the number of goals he has scored). Johnnie Jackson was loaned out as soon as our new owner took over, but was injured and returned to Notts. Karl Hawley would be encouraged to move on I imagine too.

    As for us not selling players to service the debts, well for a start, the new owner took over as the transfer window was about to close, and also, if he is personally happy to PAY OFF ALL DEBTS IN FULL by the end of this year which is what he is doing, then why sell a player?

    Truly (or should that be Trewly?) we are heartily sick of the whingeing from other clubs. Most of them are ill-informed, and we never heard a peep out of Dale until we overtook them. We are within the wage cap, and as it is actually assessed in reality at the end of the season, you could say that we have only ever been hypothetically breaching it any way. Some clubs have always had more money than others, thats how it is in football. We have been elatively poor for a very long time, surviving - just - thanks to our reasonable levels of support. Now we have someone prepared to pay for our success, we are going to enjoy that success as much as Ray Trew must be right now.

    Congratulations to Rochdale and Bournemouth (hopefully) on promotion.

    One final point, we have used less players than any other club this season bar one, and have had four or five strikers (mostly useless ones at that) on the bench some games and youth players making up the numbers.

  • Comment number 64.

    oNLI jOKIN CHIRS!!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    iloveleehughes u dont even make sense and cliftonmudpie how have you turned it around, we will see what you have left next season

  • Comment number 66.

    MagpieSean said: "We are in a lot of debt, for one. But manageable with the assets we have (Schemeicel, Jackson)".

    More deluded comments. You haven't even paid for Kasper the Grasper Schmeichel yet, so how can you cash in someone else's asset? I see your club expects to raise £2 million by selling him.

    Whilst you weren't paying attention, I sold your house. It wasn't mine, but hey, what's that got to do with it. I just followed your example. If it's OK for you, it works for me as well. That's your mentality.

    Any player who waves wads of £20 notes at opposition supporters can expect a bit of stick. It's distasteful and inflammatory. If you don't like the flak, don't invite it.

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 68.

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  • Comment number 69.


    Notts have played within the rules. Ray Trew has invited any club to inspect the books to see we are within the 60% rule.

    The budget may be modest, but the winding up order was for not paying the bills. Looks like the taxman caught up with you too and Bournemouth.

  • Comment number 70.

    11:36am andrew james makes a very interesting point about loan players and perhaps something for your next blog. Notts brought a top class goalkeeper whereas Rochdale have an England U21 goalkeeper on loan from a premiership side.

    These are the best two keepers in the league and some would say too good for the division. Yet only one club have been labelled cheats. As Andrew said, no one call Bury cheats when Kasper was on loan to them last season.

    Notts paid approx £500k for Schmeichel and if the rumours are true look set to sell him for £2MM in the summer. I'm in no doubt that playing first team football all season has turned a keeper with potential, to a keeper ready for a higher division.

    Rochdale have Fielding on loan, I'm assuming his wages are subsidised by Blackburn and he will be returning to Blackburn a far better player.

    Which is best for a league two team. Buying a player comes with higher risks (ie. if gets injured, can't sell on etc), but the club also benefit from the training and development of the player, as they pocket the higher selling on fee or retain a player as they move up the leagues.

    Arguably the growth of loaning player from ever expanding premiership youth teams is more damaging to the lower leagues.

  • Comment number 71.

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  • Comment number 72.

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  • Comment number 73.

    cheyllt, i never said we were perfect and you are breaking the rules it dont matter how many players you have had, because we have loaned people in when we need them because of our small squad and we pay 1 of our player 1.5k and thats the highest

  • Comment number 74.


  • Comment number 75.

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  • Comment number 76.

    roweyd were not paying Fielding ridiculous wages for the division we are in, so in no way are they similar

  • Comment number 77.

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  • Comment number 78.

    Couple months back was returning from Sheffield after the Blades - Plymouth match and on the train were 4/5 County fans and bar the young lad, no older than 14, the older ones seem have their heads screwed on. They reckon KS is on 10k with LH on far less. As several County fans have stated, a number of players had already joined the club before Munto stated their intrest and a few of players from last season were let go so one out one in so to speak. KS n SC aside some the players who signed for County would have taken a drop in wages just like players do at other clubs - you drop down one/two leagues u'll have accept a lower wage packet.

    What LH did was terrible, however in eyes of the law he's reformed and served his sentance.

    Congrats to both teams getting promoted and hope the fans enjoy nxt season, espes Rochdale and would like see Bournmouth join them in 3rd and also bk Howe for manager of the yr.

  • Comment number 79.

    with the money you spent anything but 1st for county would be a fail, it would be great for Dale to win the league but we shouldnt be up there so promotion in its self for a team of our size is amazing, why dont next season you sort your team out sell the players on ridiculous wage and get relegated and then try winning the league by doing it properly like Dale did, im not sayin we will survive next season either coz i dont think we will with our resources we have, teams like, County, Man City and Chelsea before them to name a few are ruining football by trying to buy sucsess

  • Comment number 80.

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  • Comment number 81.

    I think its gone a bit off-message and I dont condone society's no-hopers from either Nottingham or Rochdale getting their kicks on a serious football board. But on a football thread alone - you do seem clueless Christian with your comment about not paying Fielding wages the division cant afford. Let me try and simplify it for you - two people want to drive a top of the range Bentley - one of them pays for it in full - the other thrashes it up and down the motorways paying only a fraction of the rental value, then says "thanks mate" and gives it back. Which was more honest? The one who had it and paid for it, or the one who was living a dream it could never afford? Now, enter all the intelligencia who want to argue that Notts County could never afford it - the invoices will show that they could afford Schmeichel - no complaints from MAn City - and the football league paperwork suggests they broke no rules. So the villain is the one who had something they couldnt afford - and thats Fielding for Rochdale? Stand back and open the gates to Saddleworth Moor.

  • Comment number 82.

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  • Comment number 83.

    I would like to offer Rochdale and Keith Hill in particular my warmest congratulations for their achievements this season. They're the best side I've seen in this league this year and they fully deserve their long overdue promotion, particularly having knocked on the door for the last few years.

    I cannot, however, offer similar sentiments to Notts County. While Ray Trew seems to be a decent man trying to do his best to ensure the club is run on an even keel going forward, he himself admitted not that long ago that the club has not just breached the salary cap this season but "smashed" it by paying wages that were 290 per cent above the league restriction. It is wrong that Notts have not been subjected to some sort of sanction for that.

  • Comment number 84.

    pontoon i love you

  • Comment number 85.

    how is a loan anything like using a Bentley??? if Fielding's wages would have gone over the allowed budget Rochdale wouldnt have loaned him in, we played a 16 yr old lad in net for a game, now your telling me its fair because we dont have the same money as county that we have to do that week in, week out when we could just loan in a experienced keeper for this league as he has made several loan spells in the divison, our other keeper Arthur was out injured for nearlly half the season btw

  • Comment number 86.

    they have - it was called a transfer embargo

  • Comment number 87.

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  • Comment number 88.

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  • Comment number 89.

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  • Comment number 90.

    Ok, I am getting more than a little annoyed at the continuing bile and complete untruths being spread about Notts County. You talk about Munto and all their millions, they put absolutely NOTHING into County and left us in MASSIVE DEBT. Thankfully Ray Trew is a proper businessman and we have found a gem with him. Thanks Ray

    Apart from Kasper, who I agree is on big wages, the rest of the squad was pretty much signed up before Munto arrived, and we would probably have been able to attract them anyway with the vision we had for the future.

    In fact the majority of our squad is the same as the previous season, you know the one where we struggled to stay in the league!!! Hardly world beaters then were they? I didn't hear other teams/press moaning then about our team!

    Get real will you, we haven't bought our way to success, as our chairman has stated we are well within our menas, with attendances now averaging 8000 plus we are always likely to be able to attract bigger players, and have been a bit of a sleeping giant in league 2 for years, after all we have the infrastructure similar to many championship teams.

    The big difference this year has been belief, I suppoose thats one thing we can thank Munto for, but to suggest that we have got to the top of the league by buying our way there ignores a lot of the facts and taints what should be a great achievement for County and Rochdale.

    I have no qualms over Rochdale gaining promotion, and am pleased for them, but they too had a winding up order so they weren't exactly whiter than white were they!

    I suppose it is just too easy for the BBC journalist to jump on the county bashing bandwagon becuuse we had Sven etc, but lets not forget the big fact which is that MUNTO TOOK MONEY OUT AND LEFT US IN DEBT, not the other way around.

  • Comment number 91.

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  • Comment number 92.

    Christian - I didnt expect you to understand but I thought it was worth a try - your spirit and passion for Rochdale is to be admired - your knowledge of football matters needs some help though. Why dont we both bgger off and do something more useful - your team did well, my team did well, we both had money troubles, we are both paying our bills - those are the facts - anything else is misplaced and could lead to some sort of stress related disorder for you.

  • Comment number 93.

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  • Comment number 94.

    Pontoon, is anyone going to ask the Football League why they allowed it? They are just as culpable as the current owner, Mr Trew, is.

  • Comment number 95.

    It would be interesting to know what %age Rochdale are at when you include the subsidies paid for by other teams.

  • Comment number 96.

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  • Comment number 97.

    County prove your own hype and sell Kasper and sort out your wage budget and best of luck next season

  • Comment number 98.

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  • Comment number 99.

    ok andrew james, im just fighting to support my team and using a disscussion board to discuss my point

  • Comment number 100.

    AFC Bournemouth's achievement is incredible this season, given the FL straightjacket approach to the club. I agree that punishment has to be dished out to clubs who flout administration rules and the points deductions we have suffered that relegated us two years ago...then nearly put us out the League altogether last season have been very harsh. To then put us under a grade one transfer embargo virtually all of this season (it was lifted AFTER the transfer deadline in March!) has been a bridge too far, but Eddie Howe the League's youngest manager has responded to the challenges and installed a real spirit in his squad that quite honestly has defied logic. Several players have risked their long term careers by playing when not 100% fit, through pain and under injections etc. I hope that The FL and PFA are really proud of themselves. As fans we have been cruelly abused by the masters who run The FL. So it's unbelievable that we are one victory away from what will be a miracle in my opinion.

    As for Notts County, well done to them,but no one believes that the early season 'investment' that got the likes of KS and LH in hasn't influenced thier finishing position. Rochdale have been worthy promotion material, even if Keith Hill speaks before understanding any facts! I congratulate Rochdale, and it will be very interesting to see which of the three clubs do beat in League One next season, my money's on Bournemouth and Eddie's development to continue,along with stabilising the off field finances toboot. UTCIAD


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