Who might Arsenal play next season: 3 – Ipswich Town



Today on the Arsenal History Society site:

Recently we’ve had a look at two of the clubs that Arsenal might face next season.

And if you have been paying attention you might have noticed there is a spot of a problem, beyond the fact that there are three clubs at the top battling for two automatic places for promotion out of the Championship.

That problem is that Leicester City are now embroiled in two legal cases.  First they have announced with a fanfare or two that they are suing the Premier League, and second they are suing the EFL.

Now legal cases can take a little bit of time and that is why there is an issue if we look at the league table…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Leeds United 38 25 7 6 70 28 42 82
2 Leicester City 37 26 4 7 74 33 41 82
3 Ipswich Town 38 24 9 5 80 49 31 81
4 Southampton 36 22 7 7 73 47 26 73


For what happens if the legal cases are still running come August (as they almost certainly will be, if they have actually got fully underway by then)?  Presumably, the cases will be ignored and Leicester’s position in the league this season will establish whether they go up or not.   If Leicester win in either or both cases the League (which then might appeal) will then simply owe a lot of money to Leicester.

But supposing Leicester lose: Leicester will then face enormous legal fees.  Now can those be put down as legitimate expenses for next season?  I suspect not, which means that more than likely Leicester will be docked more points next season for exceeding this season’s legitimate expenditure, whichever league they are in.   Leicester might then start legal action over that, and then…

Well it all spirals out of control and no one has much of a clue what will happen.  But as things stands, Arsenal could be playing Leicester and Leeds next season.   In which case the third promoted team would be Ipswich Town.

And Ipswich are an interesting club as can be seen from their finishing positions over the two previous seasons compared with this season…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
11 2022 League 1 46 18 16 12 67 46 21 70
2 2023 League 1 46 28 14 4 101 35 66 98
3 2024 Champ’ship 38 24 9 5 80 49 31 81


As we can see from the first table in this article at the moment Ipswich are third in the Championship and so heading to the playoffs, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that they could end up in the top two, or indeed win the playoffs.  Especially when we consider just how far off the pace the other three teams likely to end up in the play offs are…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Ipswich Town 38 24 9 5 80 49 31 81
4 Southampton 36 22 7 7 73 47 26 73
5 West Bromwich Albion 38 19 9 10 59 36 23 66
6 Norwich City 38 18 7 13 69 54 15 61


Now, Ipswich were last in the top league in the two seasons 2000/1 and 2001/2, coming fifth in that first season and then 18th (and relegated) in that second season.  And yes, fifth is right for 2000/1… here is the final league table…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 38 24 8 6 79 31 48 80
2 Arsenal 38 20 10 8 63 38 25 70
3 Liverpool 38 20 9 9 71 39 32 69
4 Leeds United 38 20 8 10 64 43 21 68
5 Ipswich Town 38 20 6 12 57 42 15 66


After that fall they did 16 years in the Championship before suffering a further relegation to League One, coming up last season.

The club’s big problem, apart from the lack of a heritage playing in the top league is that their ground capacity is 29,673.

That would by no means make their ground the smallest in the League, for smaller still would be the grounds of Fulham, Crystal Palace, Burnley, Brentford, Bournemouth and Luton Town.  However as I understand such things, Fulham’s new stand will be fully opened (after years of delay) at the start of next season and that will take their size back up.

Leeds’ and Leicester’s grounds are both bigger than Itpswich, so if they were to go up and Burnley and Luton go down, they might well have one of the three or four smallest grounds in the league.

And this does reveal something of the problem that has arisen for clubs coming up from the Championship.  They not only have far smaller incomes from sponsorships, they also have much smaller grounds and so earn far less money all round.

Which brings us back to Leicester’s arguments.  They are protesting against a whole variety of financial and regulatory issues, but the reason that they’re in the Championship and facing the financial arguments is that it is getting more and more difficult for lower clubs to earn anything remotely like the established clubs, either from sponsorships or from ground entry.

As a result, it becomes easier and easier to forecast the teams that will be struggling each year even before the promotion and relegation issues are settled from the previous year.

Yes Ipswich might well make it to the Premier League via the play offs, but the chances are it will only be for one season.

So what we have is Leeds United very likely to go up, and perhaps have enough oomph to stay up, Leicester may also go up via the league table but be relegated in legal cases.  

Ipswich could be the third club to go up but would be favourites to come back down.     And because of Leicester, there could be another place available.

It’s getting a bit complex.

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