On Saturday, both Lincoln City and Stockport County go into games in the Blue Square Premier knowing that a defeat could see them edge closer to relegation.
The pair were relegated from the football league together in 2011 and just 2 seasons later, the prospect of being relegated again, looms large.
No one is under any illusions as to the difficulty of the league. Luton have tried, and struggled, for 4 seasons to get themselves back into the football league, but to no avail. The club will again this season miss out on promotion. Other teams recently relegated from the football league like Hereford and Macclesfield will again be playing at this level next season.
The league has proven to be strong. Both Stevenage and Crawley managed to achieve back to back promotions and are now playing comfortably in League One.
But for clubs with size and stature of Lincoln and Stockport, in comparison to other teams around them, to be relegated would be a disaster and a harsh fall down the football pyramid.
Stockport currently fill the last relegation space, but have a game in hand over a number of their rivals. On Saturday they face mid table Dartford at Edgeley Park knowing a defeat, coupled with results elsewhere going against them, could almost certainly relegate them. It would complete a remarkable fall for the club who just 4 years ago were playing the likes of Norwich and Southampton in League One.
Lincoln have a massive home game against fellow relegation rivals, Tamworth. A win could see them edge away from the bottom 4 and ensure their last day trip to Hyde will have less pressure on it. A defeat however could see them fall into the relegation zone and with teams around them having a game in hand, could be very costly. For a City of Lincoln’s size, to drop down another league could cause lasting harm. The club are already under great financial strain and a second relegation in 2 years could prove detrimental to the Imps.
Of course, as the table shows it is not just a two way scrap for relegation. Any team from Nuneaton in 16th downwards could still be relegated and with just 2/3 games of the season left, the pressure is on. It would have to be presumed that Barrow are to be relegated so in theory it is one from 6, just which one will it be?
Both Stockport and Lincoln are flirting perishingly close to falling down a tier and playing in a Northern/Southern league divide. The Football League must feel a long way away for supporters of these clubs who now will just hope their teams can stay in this division for another season.