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OPINION: Football is failing in Gloucestershire and the issues stem from the infrastructure rather than the pitch

The three stalwarts in the county’s football scene have endured underwhelming campaigns with rotten recruitment, poor financial backing and lacklustre decision-making

Tomorrow evening could bring with it a hat-trick of relegation as Cheltenham Town host Peterborough United (who are looking to achieve automatic promotion) in a must-win game at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium.

Last Tuesday, Gloucestershire’s only other football league side lost their credentials without even playing as Colchester made it mathematically impossible for Forest Green Rovers to survive.

And finally, Gloucester City have suffered their most excruciating campaign for over 70 years dropping out of conference football for the first time since their last promotion in 2009.

The published accounts is a major talking point, with a £943,000 fluctuation of the previous year’s outcome.

Off the back of the 2022/23 campaign, Cheltenham had sold the highest amount of season tickets in their history – but any renewed improvement on the field has not followed suit alongside a disappointing drop in capital gained from the gate receipts.

The Robins began their season with an 11-match goalless streak, interestingly, the only two draws they got in that period were against the league champions, Portsmouth, and a side that sit in second place, Derby County.

Eventually, they made the decision to change managers, but it may have been too late as their chances of staying up come down to a midweek game against one of the strongest clubs in the division – anything but a win will end their three-year stay in League One with a game to spare.

And, for a side that boast one of the smallest budgets in League One, relegation was always a stark possibility.

So it seems, if you are not moving forwards the chances are you are moving backwards and if the club are not careful their football league status may be in severe danger.

Unfortunately for the ever-controversial owner Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers’ seven-year stay in the football league is over.

Despite a terrific spell that saw them finish in the play-offs twice and even achieve promotion to League One – the club have suffered their first ever back-to-back relegation.

The largest point to ponder, the Green Devils spent around £260,000 on agent fees with only Wrexham digging deeper into their pockets.

Wrexham have just achieved back-to-back promotions, have innovated marketing & finances off the field, and reported a turnover north of £10million – FGR could not be further away if they tried at the moment.

However, Steve Cotterill will remain in charge in the National League and oozes confidence in his assessment of what the club plans to do in their bid to fill in the third star on their collar.

As for Gloucester, the club failed to secure play-off success last season which was underpinned by overspending and operating as a full-time outfit.

Whereas now they are part-time, without a concrete board of directors and are relegated for the first time in 15 years.

Patrick and Nicky Chambers were supposed to provide a beaming light, but the new dawn was hindered by signing injury-ridden players, going winless on the road for 6 months, and failure to fill the Chambers’ void adequately.

They will be competing in the seventh tier, in either the Southern League Premier Central or South division.

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