Where is Posh’ Rightful Place in The Football League?

On the latest episode of The Yellow Block, we looked at the expectation of many fans; that the Posh should be in, or at least should be challenging to be a second-tier side. But how does that actually line up with Posh’ standing in The Football League, as a club? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out if Peterborough United really should be mixing it up in The Championship.

League Standing
Starting in 1934/35, Peterborough United spent their first 25 years (although no football was played between 1940 and 1945 due to the second World War) in non-league, before being elected into the football league in 1960, after 5 consecutive 1st place finishes. The Posh won the league in their first season in League Two (then Division 4 – they’ve rebadged it, you fool), but it wasn’t until 1992 when the club reached the 2nd tier, and have since totalled just 5 seasons in the division – 6% of the club’s history.

The Posh finished 10th in their first season in The Championship, and across the 5 seasons spent in the division, the average league finish was 20th. 9th place is the average finish whilst in League Two, and in League One – where the club has spent the majority of their seasons – the average finish was 12th.

Since joining The Football League, Posh’ average league finish is 63rd – the equivalent of 19th in League One.

Attendance
One of the main barriers in the way of success, is the gates at London Road. Whilst the school initiative has helped boost crowds to just over 7k for this season, that’s still 1,500 below average for the divison, let alone The Championship – who’s lowest watched club (Rotherham), has crowds of nearly 10k – a thousand more than The Posh were getting on average, during their 3 most-recent stints in the second tier (8746). Attendances at London Road were the lowest in the division for 2 out of 3 of those seasons, and only Burton, Yeovil and Scunthorpe have managed lower crowds in recent years. So that raises the question; can a club really sustain a place in The Championship with such low crowds?

iN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, tHE AVERAGE ATTENDANCE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HAS BEEN OVER 20,000.

The Ground
At 15,314 capacity, London Road is the 58th biggest ground in English football. There are only 3 teams; Rotherham, Bournemouth and Brentford (who will soon be moving into a 17k stadium) with a smaller ground than The Posh. So either redevelopment or relocation to a larger stadium is a must, if the club are going to increase in stature.

Honours

the posh have zero major honours to their name, whilst on average, clubs in the championship have 3.5 major trophies.

There are six clubs who currently ply their trade in the second tier, that also have no major honours under their belts. Whilst two of those (Hull and Reading) have been in the Premier League in recent years, it’s quite a safe assumption that Brentford, Bristol, Millwall and Rotherham may be punching above their weight themselves in The Championship, and if The Posh were to lay claim to a place as a ‘rightful’ second division club, it would have to be at the expense of one of those four clubs.

The Posh average lower attendances than all 4 (although only marginally below Rotherham), and like Posh, Brentford and Millwall have also spent more seasons in League One than any other. But even Rotherham have spent a considerably longer time in the second-tier, having spent most of the 50s and 60s in the division. But in terms of comparison, it’s The Millers who are probably closest to Posh in stature – they too have never been in the top flight, where as the other 3 clubs all have reached those heights at some point in their history.

Even taking all of this into account, we haven’t yet considered those clubs also in League One, who would also want to lay claim to a place in the second-tier bracket; Sunderland need no explanation, and of course there’s Pompey, Coventry and Charlton. Luton Town, who spent a decade in the top flight in the late 80s and early 90s. Even Barnsley, Bradford and Wimbledon have graced The Premier League.

So with all of this in mind, do The Posh really have a right to be knocking on the door of The Championship? Of course you need to have ambition, otherwise there isn’t much point in competing at all. But the argument remains; Peterborough United Football Club do not have any sort of right to be competitive in this division, let alone a league above. Perhaps a bit of perspective and realisation is needed. Is being a top-half League One side, and challenging to reach the play offs really such a bad thing? Maybe those Posh fans with delusions of grandeur should take a moment to realise that these are the good times.