Football

Dark days lie ahead for Sheffield United & Wednesday

What now for both Sheffield clubs? (©GettyImages)
What now for both Sheffield clubs? (©GettyImages).

Cast your minds back to 1993 and the all-Sheffield FA Cup semi-final between Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.

There were 80,000 Sheffield supporters at the old Wembley stadium cheering either the blue and white half of Sheffield on or the red and white half.

The passion and colour generated by both sets of supporters was a sight to behold
and rivalled, if not bettered, the other semi-final at Wembley that year - the
north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal.

They were heady days indeed for both clubs - they were both plying their trade in
the Premier League and, in Sheffield Wednesday's case, were serious challengers
for the title and silverware.

Sheffield Wednesday had already played in the final of the League Cup against Arsenal and were building on their League Cup success in 1991 when John Sheridan sealed their 1-0 victory against Manchester United.

How times have changed.

Both clubs are facing their own different struggles now - Sheffield Wednesday have not won a game all season and find themselves languishing near the bottom of The Championship with a long hard winter ahead of them - and Sheffield United are equally struggling in League One facing the possibility of life in the fourth tier of English football.

Owners of both clubs are businessmen and are unlikely to take risks with their own
money if the outcome is not assured.

Milan Mandaric has saved Wednesday from mounting debts and United's new owners are very wealthy people but neither are likely to get carried away with their cheque books.

Mandaric has been criticised this season for not building on what has been achieved since he arrived but the money required to catapult a club into the Premier League can be astronomical. A step too far I believe.

Both clubs have had player issues recently which has not helped. The Sheffield
Wednesday striker Gary Madine was convicted and jailed for 18 months following
two assaults.

This follows on from United's Ched Evans' conviction for rape. Issues like this affect clubs directly and do little for the perception of the game in the City. Both clubs have rich histories but incidents like this cast shadows over that.

Should both clubs consider merging to pool resources or is this the unthinkable for Sheffield folk?

The subject of a merger only seems to raise its head when both sides are struggling
but could it be the answer to both clubs dilemmas? To me it may prove to be more problematic but if it was a pure business decision then logic would point to this being the correct answer. Fortunately football is made up more of passion and history and business has not yet fully taken over.

The only shining light for both clubs has to be the support that they receive both
home and away. Sheffield Wednesday are one of the best supported clubs in The
Championship, depsite their struggles.

They have one of the best followings away from home and have a core support that is the envy of many clubs, not least some in the Premier League. United's support is probably the biggest in League One, except for Wolves, and like Wednesday have a fantastic away following.

Both clubs need to get their acts together if they are to avoid being cast adrift to lower league football for years to come.

Or is it too late for that to be avoided? The glorious days of the Premier league years and challenging for trophies are all but distant memories now. A City the size of Sheffield deserves the return of Premier League football but it still feels a long way off.

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Topics:
Football
Championship
Sheffield United
League One
Sheffield Wednesday

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