Football League Preview 2019-20: Week 1

The season kickoff is almost upon us.

A summer break for all football players sounds like a dream, a chance to recharge the batteries after a long, hard season. The problem is for the fans, who are left waiting and waiting for the new league season to start. Yes I know there was the Women’s World Cup; Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America, but it is just not the same.

We want league football back!

And it’s almost here.

Friday 2nd August 2019 – the day the EFL returns for a new season and there are a lot of teams; players and situations to look out for. A football story is always about to happen and I want to be a part of it. So let’s take a look at some of the things to look out for on the opening weekend of the new season:

1. Luton Town’s return to the Championship.

Championship football returns to Kenilworth Road this season.

Two successive promotions to the EFL Championship after spending five years in the non-league wilderness is something a lot of Hatters fans probably never thought would happen. Yet this is what exactly happened, as Luton Town stormed through League One at the first time of asking to claim promotion and the league title ahead of Barnsley; Sunderland and Portsmouth.

A lot of Hatters fans will be smiling about being back in the same division they last occupied in 2007, but they face a division that is more competitive and stacked in a high number of caliber teams. Middlesbrough represent one of these teams, as Luton may well find out on Friday in their (and the seasons) first match of the new campaign. Expect Kenilworth Road to be bouncing though, as Luton hope to kick off a productive season in style and make life difficult for their guests.

2. Salford City – the new boys of League Two.

Salford City beat AFC Fylde in the National League Play Off Final at Wembley to win promotion back in May.

Funny what an injection of money, plus some charismatic owners can do for a club eh? Three promotions in four seasons; a TV Series based on the part ownership of the club by the Class of 92 and now Football League League status. It’s been a hectic few years for Salford, but a very rewarding one, which fits in nicely with the 11 Year Plan the club has to reach the Championship.

Several signings this summer with Football League experience, such as Matt Green and Nathan Arnold both from Lincoln City and Luke Armstrong from Middlesbrough (loan spell with Accrington last season) should stand them in good stead this season to complement a strong Non League built team, with a home match against Stevenage this Saturday a good chance to get off to a strong start. Optimism is high, but Salford will be wary it is tougher to stay in the Football League than to get there.

A case for a surprise promotion? Look at Crawley Town and how they achieved back-to-back promotions after just one season in the Football League for the first time.

3. Leyton Orient – Triumph and Tragedy.

After two seasons in the Non League wilderness, how will Leyton Orient cope without their inspirational manager?

What should have been a happy summer after winning the National League title and thereby promotion back to the Football League in May, will be a summer remembered for tragedy after the death of manager Justin Edinburgh.

Just two years ago, with relegation from League Two still fresh and the club sold by hated owner Francesco Becchetti, it was not until the appointment of Justin Edinburgh as manager in November 2017 that the club stabilised in the National League. From here, Edinburgh built a team that not only won promotion last season, but also reached the FA Vase Trophy final, before falling to AFC Fylde at Wembley. Optimism was high for the new season, until Edinburgh was admitted to hospital in June 2019 and passed away following a cardiac arrest.

Anything the club did after this would always fall into perspective, as it should. It shone some light on the pressures of the game on human beings, but what was clear was how Edinburgh helped bring a wounded club together again. His backroom staff remain, with Ross Embleton named as Interim Head Coach.

Even for Orient’s first game back in League Two, a home match against Cheltenham Town, the away fans will pay tribute to Edinburgh with a heartfelt flag in the stadium, a sign of respect for a man who made a tremendous impact on his club in such a short time. Saturday’s game promises to be an emotional one.

4. Bury-ied?.

A perilous situation for Bury, despite winning promotion to League One.

Winning promotion to League One feels like a long time ago now for Bury, considering they have been put into administration and given a 12 point deduction for the new season; face a winding up petition by HMRC for an unpaid tax bill and lost their promotion winning manager, Ryan Lowe, to Plymouth Argyle. All within the last three months.

Granted, this has been an ongoing issue for some time now, especially as it has come to light that owner Steve Dale, who took over ownership of the club in December 2018, took control without the full approval of the EFL. It is little wonder Dale feels the EFL is working against Bury FC, citing they are “ignoring the facts” as per his statement released on Bury FC’s website.

The failure to provide sufficient proof of funds, as required by EFL rules, needed to start the season as seen Bury’s first league game against MK Dons suspended until this has been resolved. They have now gone through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to help settle some of their debts, but their future still remains uncertain.

We hope Bury FC are able to work their way out of this situation and are able to fulfil and be competitive in their league games this season. Their fans deserve at least something to look forward to after a summer of misery. Unfortunately, their season will not start this weekend.

Follow me on Instagram: @onthecounter19 and keep up to date on all new posts and football stories.

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