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The 2002–03 Football League (known as the Nationwide Football League for sponsorship reasons) was the 104th completed season of The Football League.

The Football League
Season2002–03
ChampionsPortsmouth
PromotedPortsmouth
Leicester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers
RelegatedShrewsbury Town
Exeter City

Portsmouth won the First Division by some distance, passing manager Harry Redknapp’s old club, West Ham on the way down. Leicester City earned a somewhat controversial promotion, as administration and a Creditor’s Voluntary Agreement wrote off much of their debt. Partly as a result of this, the League would introduce a ten point deduction for any teams going into administration from the next season onwards. The play-offs were won by Wolves, returning to the top flight after nearly 20 years and finally allowing owner Sir Jack Hayward to see the return he wanted on his years of investment.

Grimsby Town were relegated, after struggling in the division for five years on extremely limited resources. Both Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday suffered awful starts to the season (Brighton managing only a single win from their first sixteen matches), and despite good runs of form late in the season, neither were able to survive.

Wigan won their first-ever promotion beyond the Second Division, helped by considerable investment in the team. Crewe Alexandra managed a promotion on considerably less resources, while play-off winners Cardiff City were another big-spending team that were able to earn promotion.

An ill-advised managerial change mid-season helped send Northampton down. Mansfield Town’s first season out of the bottom division in over a decade ended as their previous spell had; with immediate relegation. Huddersfield started badly, and a financial crisis later in the season helped condemn them to relegation, only three years after they looked Premiership-bound. Cheltenham came close to survival, but a defeat on the final day of the season saw them return to the Third Division.

Rushden & Diamonds continued their meteoric rise, winning the Third Division title. They were helped in no small part by runners-up Hartlepool suffering a shocking late-season collapse, which cost them the title and manager Mike Newell his job. Wrexham took the last automatic promotion spot and bounced back from the previous season’s relegation, as did play-off winners Bournemouth.

A shock FA Cup victory over Everton did little to help Shrewsbury, and they finished bottom of the League. Exeter City were bought out pre-season in a high-profile takeover spearheaded by Uri Geller; unfortunately, Geller’s associates proceeded to asset-strip the club, and despite a late-season run of form, Exeter fell victim to the first-ever dual relegation from the League.

Contents

Final league tables and resultsEdit

The tables and results below are reproduced here in the exact form that they can be found at The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation website,[1] with home and away statistics separated. Play-off results are from the same website.

First DivisionEdit

Football League, First Division
Season2002–03
ChampionsPortsmouth (1st second tier title)
Direct promotion to FA Premier LeaguePortsmouth,
Leicester City
Promoted to FA Premier League through play-offsWolverhampton Wanderers
RelegatedBrighton & Hove Albion,
Grimsby Town,
Sheffield Wednesday
Matches played552
Goals scored1,512 (2.74 per match)
Top goalscorerSvetoslav Todorov (Portsmouth), 26 [2]
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Promotion or relegation
1 Portsmouth (C, P) 46 29 11 6 97 45 +52 98 Promotion to 2003–04 FA Premier League
2 Leicester City (P) 46 26 14 6 73 40 +33 92
3 Sheffield United 46 23 11 12 72 52 +20 80 Qualification for First Division Playoffs
4 Reading 46 25 4 17 61 46 +15 79
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers (O, P) 46 20 16 10 81 44 +37 76
6 Nottingham Forest 46 20 14 12 82 50 +32 74
7 Ipswich Town 46 19 13 14 80 64 +16 70
8 Norwich City 46 19 12 15 60 49 +11 69
9 Millwall 46 19 9 18 59 69 −10 66
10 Wimbledon 46 18 11 17 76 73 +3 65
11 Gillingham 46 16 14 16 56 65 −9 62
12 Preston North End 46 16 13 17 68 70 −2 61
13 Watford 46 17 9 20 54 70 −16 60
14 Crystal Palace 46 14 17 15 59 52 +7 59
15 Rotherham United 46 15 14 17 62 62 0 59
16 Burnley 46 15 10 21 65 89 −24 55
17 Walsall 46 15 9 22 57 69 −12 54
18 Derby County 46 15 7 24 55 74 −19 52
19 Bradford City 46 14 10 22 51 73 −22 52
20 Coventry City 46 12 14 20 46 62 −16 50
21 Stoke City 46 12 14 20 45 69 −24 50
22 Sheffield Wednesday (R) 46 10 16 20 56 73 −17 46 Relegation to 2003–04 Second Division
23 Brighton & Hove Albion (R) 46 11 12 23 49 67 −18 45
24 Grimsby Town (R) 46 9 12 25 48 85 −37 39
Updated to match(es) played on 11 May 2003. Source: Soccerway
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.

Play-offsEdit

  Semifinals
1st leg – 10 May; 2nd leg – 14/15 May 2003
Final at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
26 May 2003
                     
3rd Sheffield United 1 4 5  
6th Nottingham Forest 1 3 4  
    3rd Sheffield United 0
  5th Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
4th Reading 1 0 1
5th Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 1 3  

[1]

First Division mapsEdit

Locations of the Football League First Division London teams 2002–2003

Second DivisionEdit

Football League, Second Division
Season2002–03
ChampionsWigan Athletic (1st third tier title)
Direct promotionWigan Athletic,
Crewe Alexandra
Promoted through play-offsCardiff City
RelegatedCheltenham Town,
Huddersfield Town,
Mansfield Town,
Northampton Town
Matches played552
Goals scored1,421 (2.57 per match)
Top goalscorerRobert Earnshaw (Cardiff City), 31 [2]
Pos Team Pld HW HD HL HGF HGA AW AD AL AGF AGA GD Pts Promotion or relegation
1 Wigan Athletic 46 14 7 2 37 16 15 6 2 31 9 +43 100 Division Champions, promoted
2 Crewe Alexandra 46 11 5 7 29 19 14 6 3 47 21 +36 86 Promoted
3 Bristol City 46 15 5 3 43 15 9 6 8 36 33 +31 83 Participated in play-offs
4 Queens Park Rangers 46 14 4 5 38 19 10 7 6 31 26 +24 83
5 Oldham Athletic 46 11 6 6 39 18 11 10 2 29 20 +30 82
6 Cardiff City 46 12 6 5 33 20 11 6 6 35 23 +25 81 Promoted through play-offs
7 Tranmere Rovers 46 14 5 4 38 23 9 6 8 28 34 +9 80
8 Plymouth Argyle 46 11 6 6 39 24 6 8 9 24 28 +11 65
9 Luton Town 46 8 8 7 32 28 9 6 8 35 34 +5 65
10 Swindon Town 46 10 5 8 34 27 6 7 10 25 36 −4 60
11 Peterborough United 46 8 7 8 25 20 6 9 8 26 34 −3 58
12 Colchester United 46 8 7 8 24 24 6 9 8 28 32 −4 58
13 Blackpool 46 10 8 5 35 25 5 5 13 21 39 −8 58
14 Stockport County 46 8 8 7 39 38 7 2 14 26 32 −5 55
15 Notts County 46 10 7 6 37 32 3 9 11 25 38 −8 55
16 Brentford 46 8 8 7 28 21 6 4 13 19 35 −9 54
17 Port Vale 46 9 5 9 34 31 5 6 12 20 39 −16 53
18 Wycombe Wanderers 46 8 7 8 39 38 5 6 12 20 28 −7 52
19 Barnsley 46 7 8 8 27 31 6 5 12 24 33 −13 52
20 Chesterfield 46 11 4 8 29 28 3 4 16 14 45 −30 50
21 Cheltenham Town 46 6 9 8 26 31 4 9 10 27 37 −15 48 Relegated
22 Huddersfield Town 46 7 9 7 27 24 4 3 16 12 37 −22 45
23 Mansfield Town 46 9 2 12 38 45 3 6 14 28 52 −31 44
24 Northampton Town 46 7 4 12 23 31 3 5 15 17 48 −39 39
Source:[citation needed]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).

Play-offsEdit

  Semifinals
1st leg – 10 May; 2nd leg – 13/14 May 2003
Final at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
28 May 2003
                     
3rd Bristol City 0 0 0  
6th Cardiff City 1 0 1  
    4th Queens Park Rangers 0
  6th Cardiff City (a.e.t.) 1
4th Queens Park Rangers 1 1 2
5th Oldham Athletic 1 0 1  

[1]

Second Division mapsEdit

Locations of the Football League Second Division London teams 2002–2003

Third DivisionEdit

Football League, Third Division
Season2002–03
ChampionsRushden & Diamonds (1st fourth tier title)
Direct promotionRushden & Diamonds,
Hartlepool United,
Wrexham
Promoted through play-offsBournemouth
Relegated to ConferenceExeter City
Shrewsbury Town
New club in the leagueBoston United
Matches played552
Goals scored1,419 (2.57 per match)
Top goalscorerAndy Morrell (Wrexham), 34 [2]
Pos Team Pld HW HD HL HGF HGA AW AD AL AGF AGA GD Pts Promotion or relegation
1 Rushden & Diamonds 46 16 5 2 48 19 8 10 5 25 28 +26 87 Division Champions, promoted
2 Hartlepool United 46 16 5 2 49 21 8 8 7 22 30 +20 85 Promoted
3 Wrexham 46 12 7 4 48 26 11 8 4 36 24 +34 84
4 Bournemouth 46 14 7 2 38 18 6 7 10 22 30 +12 74 Promoted through play-offs
5 Scunthorpe United 46 11 8 4 40 20 8 7 8 28 29 +19 72 Participated in play-offs
6 Lincoln City 46 10 9 4 29 18 8 7 8 17 19 +9 70
7 Bury 46 8 8 7 25 26 10 8 5 32 30 +1 70
8 Oxford United 46 9 7 7 26 20 10 5 8 31 27 +10 69
9 Torquay United 46 9 11 3 41 31 7 7 9 30 40 0 66
10 York City 46 11 9 3 34 24 6 6 11 18 29 −1 66
11 Kidderminster Harriers 46 8 8 7 30 33 8 7 8 32 30 −1 63
12 Cambridge United 46 10 7 6 38 25 6 6 11 29 45 −3 61
13 Hull City 46 9 10 4 34 19 5 7 11 24 34 +5 59
14 Darlington 46 8 10 5 36 27 4 8 11 22 32 −1 54
15 Boston United[a] 46 11 6 6 34 22 4 7 12 21 34 −1 54[b]
16 Macclesfield Town 46 8 6 9 29 28 6 6 11 28 35 −6 54
17 Southend United 46 12 1 10 29 23 5 2 16 18 36 −12 54
18 Leyton Orient 46 9 6 8 28 24 5 5 13 23 37 −10 53
19 Rochdale 46 7 6 10 30 30 5 10 8 33 40 −7 52
20 Bristol Rovers 46 7 7 9 25 27 5 8 10 25 30 −7 51
21 Swansea City 46 9 6 8 28 25 3 7 13 20 40 −17 49
22 Carlisle United 46 5 5 13 26 40 8 5 10 26 38 −26 49
23 Exeter City 46 7 7 9 24 31 4 8 11 26 33 −14 48 Relegated to Conference
24 Shrewsbury Town 46 5 6 12 34 39 4 8 11 28 53 −30 41
Source:[citation needed]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
Notes:
  1. ^ New club in the league
  2. ^ Boston United had 4 points deducted for financial irregularities.[3]

Play-offsEdit

  Semifinals
1st leg –10 May; 2nd leg –13/14 May 2003
Final at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
24 May 2003
                     
4th Bournemouth 0 3 3  
7th Bury 0 1 1  
    4th Bournemouth 5
  6th Lincoln City 2
5th Scunthorpe United 3 0 3
6th Lincoln City 5 1 6  

[1]

Third Division mapsEdit

Locations of the Football League Third Division London teams 2002–2003

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "England 2002–03". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "English League Leading Goalscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  3. ^ "League newcomers docked points". BBC Sport. 19 July 2002. Retrieved 28 February 2017.