As a new Sky Bet League Two season dawns, five new sides from across the country enter the fray.
Barrow AFC were promoted as champions of the Vanarama National League, marking their first Football League appearance since they were voted out in 1972 by the re-election process. Ian Evatt’s Bluebirds sailed to the non-league crown with 21 wins from the 37 matches they had played before the coronavirus outbreak forced an abrupt end to the season. Evatt moved on to pastures new with Bolton Wanderers in July of 2020.
Situated more than 320 miles from St James Park, Barrow’s Holker Street stadium has emerged as the second-furthest venue for City’s away fixtures this season, behind only Carlisle United’s Brunton Park.
Joining the Cumbrian side in promotion from non-league is Harrogate Town, who have never reached the Football League in their 101-year history. Advancing through the playoff path following a runners-up finish, Harrogate comfortably saw off Notts County, 3-1, in the final at Wembley Stadium.
As a result of Bury’s expulsion from the EFL, only three clubs from Sky Bet League One will join the Grecians for the 2020/21 campaign. Bolton Wanderers finished at the bottom of the table, where they had been rooted since before a ball was kicked thanks to a 12-point deduction before the beginning of the season.
The Trotters underwent a shake-up in preparation for the new term with National League-winning boss Evatt recruiting 17 new men to form their title assault at the time of writing.
Also failing to reach the 20-point mark, Southend United slumped through an uninspiring campaign with just four wins, the least of any club in England’s top three divisions. England and Tottenham Hotspur legend Sol Campbell took charge of the Shrimpers in October 2019, but it was not until three months later that he won his first game.
Off the pitch, United tussled with financial difficulties which saw senior players miss out on wages as well as a winding-up petition.
Tranmere Rovers were the best-placed of the three League One leavers, falling short of survival by just three points. Their season-long tenure in the third tier came after a 0-1 win in the 2018/19 Sky Bet League Two playoff final over Newport County.
Manager Micky Mellon departed the Rovers for Dundee United during the coronavirus hiatus, paving the way for assistant Mike Jackson to take on the task of redemption.