Why relegation is never a good thing – Sue Smith

I constantly hear people say relegation might be a good thing for a particular club but I could not disagree more.

Hopeful signs: Middlesborough's Ryan Shotton battles with Patrick Bamford as the hosts showed survival qualities in defeat to Leeds. Picture: Tony Johnson

I doubt you will find many fans of Barnsley, Middlesbrough or Huddersfield Town happy about dropping out of the Championship. Even Hull City have been dragged into the battle and a severe EFL punishment over their financial fair play-related misconduct charge could suck Sheffield Wednesday in, too.

I feel for the players. It can be tough when you are constantly looking over your shoulder, worried about relegation.

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Barnsley bounced back well from relegation the year before last and are in danger of becoming a yo-yo club, but you only need look at Huddersfield to see that a lot of clubs do not stabilise at the next level down, and some get relegated again.

In men’s football, the financial implications are huge. My time playing showed me that while the numbers are much smaller, the effects can still be devastating in the women’s game.

When I was growing up, Doncaster Belles were one of women’s football’s biggest clubs, so I always wanted to play for them.

Doncaster Rovers Belles, now merged with the men’s club, were a mid-table Women’s Super League team when I got the chance in 2011 and I wanted to get them back to former glories.

In our case, relegation came because Manchester City were given a WSL licence instead, and we found out one game into the 2013 season we would go down regardless of how we performed.

THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD: Huddersfield Town manager Danny Cowley, right, with brother and assistant manager Nicky. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Staff we could pay in the WSL had to leave or become volunteers.

I and quite a few others stayed and tried to get us back up the next season but when we were unable to, the team broke up.

I had sympathy for the girls who left because you want to put things right but it is such a short career, and if you get the opportunity to play at a higher level and get paid a similar amount, you can see why people would. Beth England and Millie Bright joined Chelsea and went on to play or England.

You look at where the club is now, mid-table in the fourth tier and struggling financially, and it is sad to see.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT: Barnsley manager Gerhard Struber. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA

The circumstances are different in men’s football, but the problems can be the same.

League One is difficult to get out of at the best of times, and if you go into it low on confidence having lost some of your best players, you can get stuck in a very negative spiral. Those behind the scenes can suffer redundancy because of what happens on the field.

If Barnsley end up going down, you would like to think they could bounce straight back up again if they keep their talented young group together, but even after promotion last season, bigger clubs picked off Kieffer Moore, Adam Davies, Ethan Pinnock and Liam Lindsay.

When you are scrapping at the bottom of the table, things often do not go your way.

On Wednesday, I covered Middlesbrough’s game at home to Leeds. The Whites were the better team and deserved their 1-0 win but I was impressed by Boro’s character, work-rate and togetherness. In the moments that mattered, though, luck went against them.

They should have had a penalty when Stuart Dallas handled Lewis Wing’s free-kick and Boro hit the bar through Marcus Tavernier. If you are flying as a team, that probably bounces off the woodwork and goes in.

Only goal difference is keeping Boro out of the relegation zone but I can see them picking up points if they continue to play like that.

Barnsley are putting up a good fight after three consecutive wins, starting with a brilliant one at Fulham where they scrapped hard as well as playing some good football.

Sometimes when a team plays lovely football like Barnsley try to, you can be lulled into thinking they cannot fight too, but it is not a case of one or the other.

Barnsley have pulled off great escapes before and although the squad has changed, there are people around the club who have that experience. That could be important.

Mentality and motivation count for a lot, although sometimes if you are worried about the consequences, it can become desperation and panic.