DESPITE a precious victory over Lincoln City last weekend, Wrexham’s bid to retain their Football League status looks likely to go the final day of the season when Boston United visit the Racecourse.
Tomorrow’s Racecourse visitors Torquay United have had a week now in which to come to terms with the fact they will be playing Conference football next season.
Tears were shed at Plainmoor last Saturday after a 1-1 draw with Peterborough United confirmed the Devon club’s drop, and those sad scenes undoubtedly will be repeated somewhere else in the next couple of weeks.
God forbid it should happen at the Racecourse, but if the worst comes to the worst Brian Carey’s Wrexham side will be following in the footsteps of other, bigger clubs which have suffered a similar fate.
Carlisle United, who were in the top tier of English football during the 1970s, and Oxford United spring to mind – both proving with varying degrees of success that relegation is not the end of the world.
For public consumption at least, the dreaded "R" word is not being bandied around at the Racecourse, but behind the scenes there can be little doubt that budgets and financial forecasts are being drawn up to cover every contingency.
The most immediate consequence of relegation is the loss of income from the Football League from a base figure of around £268,000 to £134,000, with a corresponding cut in the funds available for youth development.
Currently a two-year arrangement designed to cushion the financial impact of relegation – the "parachute" deal – helps explain why so many former League members have been able to bounce back within a relatively short period of time.
Wrexham’s neighbours, Shrewsbury Town and Chester City, are prime examples which are clearly no worse for the experience, while League One outfit Carlisle have gone from strength to strength since rejoining the League in 2005 and are currently chasing a promotion hat-trick.
Twelve months ago veteran Oxford Mail journalist Jon Murray was a despondent as anyone when his local club, managed by Jim Smith, were relegated on the final day of the season.
"At the time it was the end of the world," he recalled. "Looking back now, though, it’s been the breath of fresh air that the club needed and there’s every chance that United will bounce back at the first attempt.
"The teams in the top half of the Conference play a standard of football that’s pleasing to watch and they try to keep the ball on the ground.
"And once the supporters got over the initial disappointment of relegation, they have enjoyed the experience of visiting different grounds around the country."
Murray admitted a change of ownership last summer, with a new chairman and board of directors, had halted the decline at Oxford, who could be on the verge of a return to the League after they qualified for the end-of-season play-offs with a couple of matches to spare.
"A lot depends on a club’s ambitions," he added.
"For every Carlisle or Yeovil there’s an Exeter City or Scarborough, but the new faces here came in with a positive frame of mind and got the fans onside very quickly with their professional attitude and determination to get things right both on and off the pitch."