Relegated League One side Stevenage Football Club’s chairman Phil Wallace has admitted his side had ‘over achieved’ following a three-year spell in League One.
The Hertfordshire Club were relegated last Monday following a less than convincing performance against mid-table side Bristol City. With Graham Westley’s side with nothing left but their pride to play for, they entered this weekend knowing a win against Walsall would end a previous ten game wait for a league win and give the club something to work towards following their relegation into League Two.
Wallace has hinted at reigniting his plans to redevelop the club’s North Stand and has also expressed his desire to provide the club with resources to ensure their relegation into League Two isn’t long-term.
However, Stevenage have struggled to convince fans and pundits alike that they are a League One club all season, with an average attendance of just 2,981 fans passing through their gates each week. It’s a worrying statistic for Wallace and leaves his side just one shy of the lowest attendance in the whole of League One respectively, with Coventry City just beneath them.
Given the club’s relatively small size and low budgets, it’s a statistic that would be expected of one of the league’s smallest clubs. However, with Stevenage being relegated into League Two, their average attendance in comparison to those in the division places them in 18th from the 24 clubs in the League Two.
It’s a stark reality from the visions Wallace had at the start of the season, where he had hoped the club would raise their average attendance to 4,000 a week, something he strongly felt was needed for the club to financially sustain themselves as a League One side.
Wallace later admitted in his programme notes that “it doesn’t take a keen statistician to look at our average home gates of the past two seasons and judge they belong more to League Two than League One.”
However, looking past the negatives the club have had to deal with this season, Wallace proudly said “I feel privileged to lead Stevenage FC, win or lose, I will always enjoy a season”
Stevenage manager Westley and chairman Wallace said last week in their programme notes that the club need to end the season on a high, something their players clearly paid homage to with the side ending their winless run at home to Walsall on Saturday.
Striker Luke Freeman’s goal just ten minutes from the full-time whistle was enough to give the hosts a well deserved three points. However, the ex-Arsenal youngster has attracted a lot of interest from fellow League One and Championship sides of late and after Stevenage rejected a reported six-figure bid from Bristol City in January, the club’s manager reluctantly said, “We are developing players to sell to clubs like them [Bristol City]. You have to be humble about it.”
It was a response that may worry Stevenage fans as it suggests the club could struggle to keep hold of their talented players following relegation into a lower division.