'Tranmere should be aiming for the Championship'
Over the last few years Tranmere Rovers have been working their way back up the football ladder following their relegation from the Football League in 2015.
I recently spoke to Nicola Palios, the League One club’s owner and Vice-Chair, to discuss the club’s journey since she acquired it alongside her husband, Mark Palios.
When asked about the impact that being relegated from the Football League had on the club, Palios explained how, financially, it left Tranmere in a rather bad position.
She said: “We were the last club before they changed the rules, so we got 50% of our league funding in year one and nothing in year two, whereas now you get 100% parachute in year one and 50% in year two, so for us it was a very quick and devastating blow.”
As a result of this the club had to make some bold moves, and according to Palios, they did some “fairly unusual things like putting the season ticket prices up”.
“The club had been in such a downward spiral for a long time,” admitted Palios.
“We had to have a vision to grow it, get out back into the league, and have a bigger playing budget. So with hindsight, I think it actually gave us a platform for change which otherwise might have been difficult.”
In 2018, Tranmere secured promotion back to the Football League via the National League Play-off final, after seeing off Boreham Wood at Wembley - in an intense game which saw Liam Ridehalgh dismissed after just 48 seconds.
Palios described Tranmere getting out of the National League as the proudest moment of her time at the club, adding: “It was both an enormous relief and a great sense of pride. Holding on to that trophy at Wembley… phenomenal, nothing like it.”
The following year Tranmere achieved a second-successive promotion to reach League One. Looking ahead to Rovers’ future, Palios said: “Realistically, I think we should have the Championship as our aim.”
However, despite possessing such optimism, Palios did acknowledge that due to the gulf between League One and the ever-growing Championship, this could prove difficult.
She concluded: “Without a benefactor, who’s going to come along and just throw money at the club? The only way that we can get to where we need to be, to sustain ourselves in the Championship, is by building the non-football related businesses around the club. Whether that’s hospitality, whether it’s the education business, or whether it’s the international business.”
It will be interesting to see whether Tranmere can progress from League One and what steps the club will take in order to reach its goals.
By Ellie Bethan Reynolds