Bolton Wanderers supporters might want to look away now – history is not on your side in the battle to avoid relegation to League One.
With the Whites currently sitting on a miserable 17 points from 27 games, they face a crucial match at home to fellow strugglers MK Dons today at the Macron Stadium.
Indeed, Neil Lennon has labelled it a ‘must-win game’ – although he might have been better off saving his breath, if recent history is anything to go by.
There are, of course, lies, damned lies and statistics, but not a single side that has been bottom after 27 games of a Championship season has ever stayed up.
That record takes into account the most up-to-date reincarnation of English football’s second tier, but you have to go back to Crewe Alexandra’s great escape in 2001 for any sort of inspiration.
Back then, Alex had 25 points from 27 games, but comfortably rose from bottom to a final position of 14th in the First Division.
The most relevant – but most horrifying – comparison lies with last season’s Championship campaign, when Blackpool too had 17 points from 27 games.
The Tangerines finished bottom, 20 points from safety, and show no signs of coming back any time soon.
If Bolton fans are looking to glean any comfort, aside from the old truism that ‘records are there to be broken’, they might want to look at sides that have bounced back.
In the last seven seasons, six promoted sides have bounced straight back to League One, including Wolves, Norwich and Leicester – all of whom have come back far stronger.
Considering Wanderers’ parlous state, however, supporters of a less optimistic mind may already be dreading the ‘double relegation’.
A fate that has befallen three sides in the last five seasons, Yeovil, Portsmouth and Plymouth have all descended to League Two from the Championship in consecutive seasons.
Putting aside the doom and gloom, if Bolton can secure a win over Karl Robinson’s side, they’ll be only four points from safety – a situation that, all of a sudden, wouldn’t look so irretrievable…
As any long-suffering football supporter will tell you, it’s the hope that kills you.
Image courtesy of BWFC via YouTube, with thanks.