2003–04 in English football

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The 2003–04 season was the 124th season of Association football in England.

Overview[edit]

Arsenal completed the season without losing a league match.

Leeds United avoided going into administration, but were unable to avoid relegation and lost their place in the Premiership along with Leicester City and Wolves.

Norwich City won promotion to the Premiership as Champions after nine years in Division 1. They were joined by runners-up West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace who beat West Ham in the play-off final. Wimbledon completed their relocation to Milton Keynes and moved into the former England National Hockey Stadium, which would be used as a temporary home until a new stadium was built at Denbigh North. At the end of the season, following the Dons' relegation, club directors changed its name to Milton Keynes Dons. Bradford City and Walsall joined them in relegation to League 1.

Plymouth Argyle were Division Two champions and ensured that they would be playing in the second tier of English football for the first time in 11 years. QPR joined them together with Brighton who won the play-off. At the bottom Rushden & Diamonds were relegated to Division Three along with Grimsby Town who suffered a second consecutive relegation after losing the last game of the season. Notts County and Wycombe Wanderers were also relegated. In the same division, Oldham Athletic were in financial difficulties but they avoide going into administration after a takeover bid was confirmed.

Doncaster Rovers became Division Three champions to earn their second successive promotion, having been Conference play-off winners the previous season. They had not played above the league's lowest tier for nearly 20 years; they were joined by Hull City, Torquay United and play-off winners Huddersfield Town. Carlisle United were relegated to the Conference from Division Three. They had spent all but two of the previous 17 seasons in the league's fourth tier. York City followed them out of the Football League after a poor second half of the season. Chester City and Shrewsbury Town were promoted to the Football League from the Football Conference.

Telford United, who had been members of the Conference for every season since its formation in 1979, went out of business at the end of a season in which they had reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. The club was quickly reformed as A.F.C. Telford United and joined the Northern Premier League.

Diary of the season[edit]

  • 26 June 2003: Marc-Vivien Foé, who scored 9 goals in 35 games on loan at Manchester City, collapsed and died during a FIFA Confederations Cup tie for Cameroon.
  • 1 July 2003: Liverpool signed defender Steve Finnan from Fulham for £3.6million.
  • 2 July 2003: David Beckham completed his £25million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.
  • 3 July 2003: Birmingham City paid a club record £5.5million for Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Dunn.
  • 9 July 2003: Liverpool signed Leeds United's Harry Kewell for £5million.
  • 15 July 2003: Manchester United signed American goalkeeper Tim Howard from MetroStars for £2.3million; Chelsea paid £6million for 19-year-old West Ham United defender Glen Johnson.
  • 16 July 2003: Chelsea signed Cameroon midfielder Geremi from Real Madrid for £7million.
  • 21 July 2003: Chelsea signed Southampton defender Wayne Bridge for £7million and Blackburn Rovers winger Damien Duff for a club record £17million.Template:Which club
  • 30 July 2003: The Premier League was officially declared the richest football league in Europe.[1]
  • 4 August 2003: The Premier League ruled out the possibility of Rangers and Celtic gaining membership.[2]
  • 6 August 2003: Chelsea signed Juan Sebastian Veron from Manchester United for £15million and Joe Cole from West Ham United for £6.6million.
  • 12 August 2003: Manchester United signed 18-year-old Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo for £12.24million from Sporting Lisbon and Brazil's World Cup winning midfielder José Kleberson for £5.93million from Atlético Paranaense.
  • 14 August 2003: Chelsea signed Romanian striker Adrian Mutu from Parma for £15.8million.
  • 25 August 2003: Chelsea signed Russian midfielder Alexei Smertin from Bordeaux for £3.45million and immediately loaned him to Portsmouth for the season.
  • 26 August 2003: Chelsea signed Argentine striker Hernan Crespo from Inter Milan for £16.8million.
  • 29 August 2003: Blackburn Rovers paid £7.5million for Rangers and Scotland midfielder Barry Ferguson.
  • 31 August 2003: The first month of the season ended with Arsenal and Manchester United at the top of the league with three wins from their first three Premier League games, while their nearest challengers were Portsmouth (newly promoted), Manchester City and Chelsea. Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Wanderers lost the first three games of their first top flight campaign for 20 years; Bolton Wanderers and Middlesbrough completed the bottom three.[3] The race to get into the Premier League was headed by West Bromwich Albion, who were a point ahead of their nearest rivals Reading and Sheffield United at the top of Division One. Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace and West Ham United completed the top six.[4]
  • 1 September 2003: Chelsea signed Real Madrid and France midfielder Claude Makélélé for £16.6million.
  • 21 September 2003: Tottenham Hotspur sacked Glenn Hoddle after two-and-a-half years as manager. Director of football David Pleat took temporary charge.
  • 27 September 2003: Wimbledon relocated to Milton Keynes where they would play at the National Hockey Stadium, but this was a temporary measure; there were plans to build a new 25,000-seat stadium at Denbigh North which was expected to be completed in either 2006 or 2007.
  • 30 September 2003: Arsenal led the Premier League, but their nearest challengers Chelsea and Manchester United were just a point behind. Surprise title contenders Birmingham City and Southampton completed the top five, but there was widespread doubt as to whether they could continue their good form and make a serious challenge to record their first-ever top division title.[citation needed] Wolverhampton Wanderers were still bottom and looking for their first win of the season; Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur completed the bottom three.[5] Sheffield United led the way in Division One, a point ahead of former leaders West Bromwich Albion. Wigan Athletic, Norwich City, Sunderland and West Ham United occupied the play-off zone.[6]
  • 31 October 2003: Chelsea were ahead of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League with equal goal difference but with more goals scored; Manchester United were a point behind in third place. Birmingham City remained fourth, while Fulham moved into the top five at the expense of Southampton. Leicester City and Middlesbrough propped up the Premier League after an upturn in fortunes for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur; Leeds United had slipped into the relegation zone as the mass sale of players to help pay off mounting debts took its toll on the field. Newcastle United were in eighth place just below Manchester City.[7] West Bromwich Albion were top of Division One, where Wigan Athletic were playing for the first time in their history. Norwich City, Sheffield United, Sunderland and West Ham United completed the top six. Ipswich Town were a single goal short of the play-off places.[8]
  • 8 November 2003: Senior executives from the 20 Premier League clubs backed plans for clubs to be deducted 10 points if they enter receivership.[9]
  • 10 November 2003: Peter Reid was sacked after eight months as manager of Leeds United, who were bottom of the Premier League after losing eight of their opening 12 games. Long-serving coach and former manager Eddie Gray took over on a temporary basis.
  • 30 November 2003: Chelsea lead the Premier League, one point ahead of Arsenal and four points ahead of Manchester United. Debt-ridden Leeds United[citation needed] propped up the top flight, joined in the relegation zone by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton.[10] West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City were top of Division One, followed by Sheffield United, Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic and Reading.[11]
  • 19 December 2003: Rio Ferdinand received an eight-month ban from football and a £50,000 fine as penalty for missing a drugs test on 22 September. The ban commenced on 19 January, though Ferdinand was intent on appealing against it.
  • 31 December 2003: Manchester United were leaders of the Premier League; their nearest contenders Arsenal (unbeaten) and Chelsea were four points behind. Charlton Athletic and Fulham completed the top five, with Liverpool and Newcastle United close behind. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United were bottom of the division; Everton were comfortably clear of the bottom three.[12] Norwich City held a six-point lead over West Bromwich Albion at the top of Division One followed by Sheffield United, Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic.[13]
  • 9 January 2004: Gordon Strachan announced that he would not renew his contract as Southampton manager when it expired at the end of the season, amid speculation that he will return to his old club Leeds United as their new manager[according to whom?].[14]
  • 14 January 2004: Manchester City signed goalkeeper David James from West Ham United for £2million, prompting the retirement of 40-year-old David Seaman.
  • 23 January 2004: Manchester United signed Fulham striker Louis Saha for £12.8million.
  • 28 January 2004: Arsenal signed Sevilla striker José Antonio Reyes for £10.5million.
  • 30 January 2004: Chelsea signed Charlton Athletic midfielder Scott Parker for £10million.
  • 31 January 2004: Manchester United topped the Premier League, with unbeaten Arsenal a point behind and a game in hand. Chelsea's bid for the title took a setback; they were in third place with a seven point gap between them and the top spot followed by Charlton Athletic and Liverpool. Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City occupied the bottom three places.[15] Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion were still leading the way at the top of Division One. Sheffield United, Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic occupied the play-off zone.[16]
  • 2 February 2004: Tottenham Hotspur paid £7million for West Ham United striker Jermain Defoe.
  • 29 February 2004: Middlesbrough won their first ever trophy as a professional club by beating Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup final. In the Premier League, Arsenal were still unbeaten and were top of the league with a nine-point advantage over Chelsea and Manchester United. Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic completed the top five, followed closely by Liverpool and Aston Villa. Leeds United and Leicester City remained in the bottom three, but Wolverhampton Wanderers had climbed out of the drop zone at the expense of Portsmouth.[17] Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion remained at the top of Division One, and West Ham United edged Sheffield United out of an otherwise unchanged play-off zone.[18]
  • 2 March 2004: Gordon Strachan, who was due to depart as Southampton manager at the end of the season, resigned from the club with immediate effect.[19]
  • 4 March 2004: Paul Sturrock departed from Division Two leaders Plymouth Argyle to become Southampton's new manager.[20]
  • 5 March 2004: Three Leicester City players, Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Frank Sinclair, were charged with sexual assault while on a training camp in La Manga, Spain.
  • 31 March 2004: Arsenal, the first team to complete 30 matches unbeaten at the start of a league season, led Chelsea by seven points with Manchester United a further 5 points behind. They were also in contention for both the European Cup and the FA Cup. Liverpool and Newcastle United completed the top five as Charlton Athletic's bid for a European place was fading fast, the competition now coming from Birmingham City and Aston Villa. At the other end of the table, time was running out for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United; Leicester City were still giving the rest of the bottom 10 a good run for their money.[21] Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion were equal on points at the top of Division One and Millwall had edged Wigan Athletic out of the top six.[22]
  • 10 April 2004: Arsenal's double hopes ended when they lost 1–0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.
  • 25 April 2004: Arsenal clinched the Premier League title, and were still unbeaten, after a 2–2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.[23] Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion had their promotion from Division One confirmed. The play-off places were still being contested between seven clubs: Sunderland, Ipswich Town, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic, Sheffield United, Reading and Crystal Palace, who had climbed from 19th to 7th since the appointment of Iain Dowie as manager four months previously.[24]
  • 30 April 2004: Arsenal finished April as Premier League champions while Chelsea and Manchester United fought closely for second place. Liverpool and Aston Villa completed the top five, though the seven teams below them still stood a chance of a top-five finish and European qualification. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City needed a miracle to avoid relegation and Leeds United were still giving most of the rest of the bottom 10 a run for their money.[25]
  • 1 May 2004: Leicester City's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed just one season after promotion; Wolverhampton Wanderers needed to win both of their remaining games by a huge margin and hope that Manchester City would suffer heavy defeats in both of theirs to survive, despite beating Everton. Leeds United still needed at least a draw against Bolton Wanderers to have any chance of avoiding relegation. At the top of the Premiership Chelsea looked set for second place while Manchester United seemed certain to settle for third place, with Liverpool and Newcastle United completing the top five.[26]
  • 2 May 2004: Leeds United lost 4–1 to Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium, leaving them needing a similar almost impossible survival act to that needed by Wolverhampton Wanderers to avoid relegation at the expense of Manchester City.[27]
  • 15 May 2004: Arsenal completed the Premier League season unbeaten with a 2–1 win over Leicester City, only the third time since the formation of the Football League in 1888 that a team has gone a whole season unbeaten in the league. Joining them in next season's Champions League were Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool (occupying second, third and fourth place respectively), while fifth-placed Newcastle United qualified for the UEFA Cup with League Cup winners Middlesbrough.
  • 16 May 2004: Arsenal signed Dutch winger Robin Van Persie from Feyenoord for £2.75million.
  • 17 May 2004: Goalkeeper Paul Robinson left relegated Leeds United in a £1.5million move to Tottenham Hotspur.
  • 20 May 2004: Birmingham City paid a club record £6.25million for Liverpool striker Emile Heskey.
  • 22 May 2004: Manchester United beat Millwall 3–0 to clinch the FA Cup for the 11th time in their history. The losers had played their first-ever major cup final; however, Manchester United's participation in the Champions League meant that Millwall would be competing in the UEFA Cup next season, the first time they will have ever played in a European competition.
  • 24 May 2004: Gérard Houllier was sacked after six years as manager of Liverpool.[28]
  • 27 May 2004: Telford United, who reached the FA Cup fourth round in this season, were liquidated and removed from the Conference as a result. Leeds United sold striker Alan Smith to Manchester United for £7million.
  • 29 May 2004: Crystal Palace, who were 19th in Division One when Iain Dowie became manager on 22 December, won promotion to the Premier League with a 1–0 win over West Ham United in the play-off final. Neil Shipperley scored the only goal of the game. Ironically, Dowie was a former player of both of these clubs.
  • 1 June 2004: Chelsea signed Rennes and Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Čech for £7million.
  • 2 June 2004: José Mourinho took over as manager of Chelsea, replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri.
  • 11 June 2004: Manchester United signed Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze from Paris St Germain for £6.9million.
  • 13 June 2004: England's Euro 2004 campaign began with a 2–1 defeat by France.
  • 16 June 2004: Rafael Benítez took over as manager of Liverpool.
  • 17 June 2004: England confirmed their quarter-final qualification with a 3–0 win over Switzerland at Euro 2004.
  • 21 June 2004: Wimbledon announced that they would change their name to Milton Keynes Dons, reflecting its highly controversial move from South London to Milton Keynes. England's Euro 2004 group-stage campaign finished with a 4–2 win over Croatia.
  • 24 June 2004: England lost on penalties to Euro 2004 hosts Portugal after a 2–2 draw, with penalty misses from David Beckham and Darius Vassell ending their chances of progressing to the semi-finals.

National team[edit]

Date Venue Opponents Score Competition England scorers
20 August 2003 Portman Road, Ipswich  Croatia 3–1 F David Beckham (pen), Michael Owen, Frank Lampard
6 September 2003 Skopje City Stadium, Skopje  Macedonia 2–1 ECQ Wayne Rooney, David Beckham (pen)
10 September 2003 Old Trafford, Manchester  Liechtenstein 2–0 ECQ Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney
11 October 2003 Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul  Turkey 0–0 ECQ
16 November 2003 Old Trafford, Manchester  Denmark 2–3 F Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole
14 February 2004 Estádio Algarve, Faro  Portugal 1–1 F Ledley King
31 March 2004 Nya Ullevi Stadion, Gothenburg  Sweden 0–1 F
1 June 2004 City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester  Japan 1–1 FA Michael Owen
5 June 2004 City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester  Iceland 6–1 FA Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney (2), Darius Vassell (2), Wayne Bridge
13 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon  France 1–2 ECF Frank Lampard
17 June 2004 Estádio Cidade, Coimbra   Switzerland 3–0 ECF Wayne Rooney (2), Steven Gerrard
21 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon  Croatia 4–2 ECF Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney (2), Frank Lampard
24 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon  Portugal 1–1 (FT), 2–2 (aet), 5–6 (P) ECF Michael Owen, Frank Lampard
  • ECQ – Euro 2004 qualifiers
  • ECF – Euro 2004 finals
  • F – Friendly; scores are written England first
  • FA – FA Summer Tournament (friendly)
  • (FT) – Full-time
  • (aet) – After extra time
  • (P) – After penalty shoot out

Honours[edit]

Competition Winner
FA Premier League Arsenal
FA Cup Manchester United
Carling Cup Middlesbrough
Football League Trophy Blackpool
Football League First Division Norwich City
Football League Second Division Plymouth Argyle
Football League Third Division Doncaster Rovers
FA Community Shield Manchester United

European qualification[edit]

Competition Qualifiers Reason for qualification
UEFA Champions League Arsenal 1st in FA Premier League
Chelsea 2nd in FA Premier League
UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round Manchester United 3rd in FA Premier League
Liverpool 4th in FA Premier League
UEFA Cup Newcastle United 5th in FA Premier League
Middlesbrough League Cup Winners
Millwall In lieu of FA Cup winners
(qualification awarded as FA Cup runners-up because FA Cup winners Manchester United had already qualified for the Champions League)

League tables[edit]

FA Premier League[edit]

The Premiership title race was a three-horse race for most of the season, but Arsenal remained unbeaten all season long and clinched the title with 90 points and an 11-point gap over runners-up Chelsea, who had been most people's favourites for the title after a £100million summer spending spree. Only Preston North End, in the first season of league football 115 years earlier had completed a top division season unbeaten before – and even then from a mere 22 games. Third placed Manchester United won the FA Cup for a record 11th time, but some dismal league results in the second half of the season put paid to their hopes of retaining the league title. Liverpool were the final team to qualify for the Champions League, finishing in fourth place, but their tally of 60 points left them 30 points behind Arsenal and closer to the relegation zone than the title winners, and manager Gerard Houllier was sacked shortly after the season's end.

League Cup winners Middlesbrough qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, joined by fifth-placed Newcastle United, who edged out Aston Villa, who had recovered from as low as eighteenth place in November, on goal difference. Seventh-placed Charlton Athletic and eighth-placed Bolton Wanderers both achieved their highest league finishes since the 1950s, while ninth-placed Fulham (many people's pre-season relegation favourites) defied the odds under 33-year-old manager Chris Coleman and achieved the highest league finish of their history. Birmingham City, in their second season since promotion, also enjoyed a solid year, finishing tenth. Portsmouth, also considered favourites for relegation pre-season, finished a respectable 13th in their first top-flight season for 16 years, though they finished behind rivals Southampton, who came in twelfth place despite the departure of Gordon Strachan.

Newly promoted Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers both went down after just one season, while Leeds United's financial crisis saw them lose most of their key players and eventually saw them relegated from the top flight after 14 successive seasons among the elite.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Arsenal 38 26 12 0 73 26  +47 90
2. Chelsea 38 24 7 7 67 30  +37 79
3. Manchester United 38 23 6 9 64 35  +29 75
4. Liverpool 38 16 12 10 55 37  +18 60
5. Newcastle United 38 13 17 8 52 40  +12 56
6. Aston Villa 38 15 11 12 48 44  +4 56
7. Charlton Athletic 38 14 11 13 51 51  0 53
8. Bolton Wanderers 38 14 11 13 48 56  -8 53
9. Fulham 38 14 10 14 52 46  +6 52
10. Birmingham City 38 12 14 12 43 48  -5 50
11. Middlesbrough 38 13 9 16 44 52  -8 48
12. Southampton 38 12 11 15 44 45  -1 47
13. Portsmouth 38 12 9 17 47 54  -7 45
14. Tottenham Hotspur 38 13 6 19 47 57  -10 45
15. Blackburn Rovers 38 12 8 18 51 59  -8 44
16. Manchester City 38 9 14 15 55 54  +1 41
17. Everton 38 9 12 17 45 57  -12 39
18. Leicester City 38 6 15 17 48 65  -17 33
19. Leeds United 38 8 9 21 40 79  -39 33
20. Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 7 12 19 38 77  -39 33

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 30

Key
Qualified for the Champions League
Qualified for the UEFA Cup
Relegated to the Championship

Football League First Division[edit]

The top three led the division for most of the season, but Sunderland could not shake off their poor start and lost out to Norwich, who returned to the Premiership after nearly a decade, and West Brom, who bounced back to the Premiership after relegation the previous season. Crystal Palace achieved one of the most unlikely promotions of recent times, spending the entire first half of the season in the relegation zone under manager Steve Kember before surging into the play-off places under new manager Iain Dowie.

Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes took its toll on the club, and they finished bottom of the table in an abysmal final season for the club before it was renamed as MK Dons. Bradford fared little better, despite the presence of former England captain Bryan Robson in the manager's chair. Walsall made a respectable start to the season before slumping somewhat later on, and finally crashing into the relegation zone; just a single point from any of their last three games would have ensured survival.

Millwall qualified for the UEFA Cup for finishing as runners-up in the FA Cup, as winners Manchester United already qualified for the Champions League.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Norwich City 46 28 10 8 79 39 94
2. West Bromwich Albion 46 25 11 10 64 42 86
3. Sunderland 46 22 13 11 62 45 79
4. West Ham United 46 19 17 10 67 45 74
5. Ipswich Town 46 21 10 15 84 72 73
6. Crystal Palace 46 21 10 15 72 61 73
7. Wigan Athletic 46 18 17 11 60 45 71
8. Sheffield United 46 20 11 15 65 56 71
9. Reading 46 20 10 16 55 57 70
10. Millwall 46 18 15 13 55 48 69
11. Stoke City 46 18 12 16 58 55 66
12. Coventry City 46 17 14 15 67 54 65
13. Cardiff City 46 17 14 15 68 58 65
14. Nottingham Forest 46 15 15 16 61 51 60
15. Preston North End 46 15 14 17 69 71 59
16. Watford 46 15 12 19 54 68 57
17. Rotherham United 46 13 15 18 53 61 54
18. Crewe Alexandra 46 14 11 21 57 66 53
19. Burnley 46 13 14 19 60 77 53
20. Derby County 46 13 13 20 53 67 52
21. Gillingham 46 14 9 23 48 67 51
22. Walsall 46 13 12 21 45 65 51
23. Bradford City 46 10 6 30 38 69 36
24. Wimbledon (later MK Dons) 46 8 5 33 41 89 29

Leading goalscorer: Andrew Johnson (Crystal Palace) – 27

Football League Second Division[edit]

Plymouth Argyle finished top of the division, though they lost manager Paul Sturrock to Southampton. Queens Park Rangers grabbed the second spot from under the noses of Bristol City, who proceeded to lose the play-off final to Brighton & Hove Albion, another side who bounced back from relegation the previous season.

Tony Adams, previously suggested by many as a possible future manager of Arsenal and England, failed to keep Wycombe Wanderers up, ending their ten-year spell in the division. Notts County nearly went bankrupt during the course of the season and the effect on the club was evident, as they slipped into Division Three (or League Two, as it would be called the next season). Rushden & Diamonds' years of success came to a grinding halt as they suffered their first-ever relegation and crashed out of the division after being promoted the previous year. Grimsby Town filled the final relegation spot, resulting in their second consecutive relegation; they had looked safe in the final weeks, but ultimately went down after a poor sequence of results combined with revivals by Chesterfield and Stockport county.

P W D L F A GD Pts
C 1 Plymouth Argyle 46 26 12 8 85 41 +44 90
P 2 Queens Park Rangers 46 22 17 7 80 45 +35 83
  3 Bristol City 46 23 13 10 58 37 +21 82
P 4 Brighton & Hove Albion 46 22 11 13 64 43 +21 77
  5 Swindon Town 46 20 13 13 76 58 +18 73
  6 Hartlepool United 46 20 13 13 76 61 +15 73
  7 Port Vale 46 21 10 15 73 63 +10 73
  8 Tranmere Rovers 46 17 16 13 59 56 +3 67
  9 A.F.C. Bournemouth 46 17 15 14 56 51 +5 66
  10 Luton Town 46 17 15 14 69 66 +3 66
  11 Colchester United 46 17 13 16 52 56 −4 64
  12 Barnsley 46 15 17 14 54 58 −4 62
  13 Wrexham 46 17 9 20 50 60 −10 60
  14 Blackpool 46 16 11 19 58 65 −7 59
  15 Oldham Athletic 46 12 21 13 66 60 +6 57
  16 Sheffield Wednesday 46 13 14 19 48 64 −18 53
  17 Brentford 46 14 11 21 52 69 −17 53
  18 Peterborough United 46 12 16 18 58 58 0 52
  19 Stockport County 46 11 19 16 62 70 −8 52
  20 Chesterfield 46 12 15 19 49 71 −22 51
R 21 Grimsby Town 46 13 11 22 55 81 −26 50
R 22 Rushden & Diamonds 46 13 9 24 60 74 −14 48
R 23 Notts County 46 10 12 24 50 78 −28 42
R 24 Wycombe Wanderers 46 6 19 21 50 75 −25 37

Leading goalscorer: Leon Knight (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Stephen McPhee (Port Vale) – 25

Football League Third Division[edit]

Doncaster Rovers earned a second successive promotion, showing that the club was firmly back on track after the years of struggle and scandal that the club had endured in the late 90s. Hull City were another team who had suffered much strife in the previous decade, but this time their extensive investment in players finally paid off, and they were promoted as runners-up. Torquay United, traditionally strugglers, snatched the third automatic promotion spot from Huddersfield on the last day of the season. Huddersfield Town would make up for this by beating Mansfield in the play-off final, earning an immediate return after the previous year's relegation.

York City were in play-off contention for a large part of the campaign, but a disastrous end to the season saw them lose 16 of their last 20 games, costing them their 80-year old League status. Conversely, Carlisle United started the season horrendously, but a late run saw them finish 23rd. A few years ago this would have seen them complete an amazing escape from relegation, but with the introduction of two relegation places from the League it was no longer sufficient, and they dropped into the Conference, becoming the first former top-flight team to suffer this indignity.

P W D L F A GD Pts
C 1 Doncaster Rovers 46 27 11 8 79 37 +42 92
P 2 Hull City 46 25 13 8 82 44 +38 88
P 3 Torquay United 46 23 12 11 68 44 +24 81
P 4 Huddersfield Town 46 23 12 11 68 52 +16 81
  5 Mansfield Town 46 22 9 15 76 62 +14 75
  6 Northampton Town 46 22 9 15 58 51 +7 75
  7 Lincoln City 46 19 17 10 68 47 +21 74
  8 Yeovil Town 46 23 5 18 70 57 +13 74
  9 Oxford United 46 18 17 11 55 44 +11 71
  10 Swansea City 46 15 14 17 58 61 −3 59
  11 Boston United 46 16 11 19 50 54 −4 59
  12 Bury 46 15 11 20 54 64 −10 56
  13 Cambridge United 46 14 14 18 55 67 −12 56
  14 Cheltenham Town 46 14 14 18 57 71 −14 56
  15 Bristol Rovers 46 14 13 19 50 61 −11 55
  16 Kidderminster Harriers 46 14 13 19 45 59 −14 55
  17 Southend United 46 14 12 20 51 63 −12 54
  18 Darlington 46 14 11 21 53 61 −8 53
  19 Leyton Orient 46 13 14 19 48 65 −17 53
  20 Macclesfield Town 46 13 13 20 54 69 −15 52
  21 Rochdale 46 12 14 20 49 58 −9 50
  22 Scunthorpe United 46 11 16 19 69 72 −3 49
R 23 Carlisle United 46 12 9 25 46 69 −23 45
R 24 York City 46 10 14 22 35 66 −31 44

Leading goalscorer: Steve MacLean (Scunthorpe United) – 23

National league system[edit]

Cup competitions[edit]

Competition Winners
FA Trophy Hednesford Town
FA Vase Winchester City
FA National League System Cup Mid Cheshire League

Football Conference[edit]

Northern Premier League[edit]

Southern League[edit]

Isthmian League[edit]

Other leagues[edit]

League Champions Notes
Step 3 Leagues Northern Premier League First Division Hyde United  
Southern League Midland/West Division Redditch United (promoted to Conference North after playoffs)
Southern League South/East Division King's Lynn  
Isthmian League Division One North Yeading  
Isthmian League Division One South Lewes (promoted to Conference South after playoffs)
Step 4 Leagues Northern League Dunston Federation Brewery  
North West Counties League Clitheroe  
Northern Counties East League Ossett Albion  
Midland Alliance Rocester  
United Counties League Spalding United  
Eastern Counties League A.F.C. Sudbury  
Isthmian League Division Two Leighton Town  
Essex Senior League Concord Rangers  
Spartan South Midlands League Beaconsfield SYCOB  
Combined Counties League AFC Wimbledon  
Hellenic League Brackley Town  
Western League Bideford  
Wessex League Winchester City  
Sussex County League Chichester City United  
Kent League Cray Wanderers  

Transfer deals[edit]

Summer transfer window[edit]

The summer transfer window ran from the end of the previous season until 31 August 2003.

January transfer window[edit]

The mid-season transfer window runs from 1 to 31 January 2004.

For subsequent transfer deals see 2004-05 in English football.

Retirements[edit]

Famous debutants[edit]

Retirements[edit]

  • 13 January 2004: David Seaman, 40, retired from playing halfway through a one-year contract at Manchester City, having joined them seven months ago after 13 years at Arsenal. He was England's regular goalkeeper for a decade.[33]
  • 15 May 2004: Denis Irwin, 38, retired from playing following a two-year spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers after joining them from Manchester United where he spent 12 years. A regular for the Republic of Ireland national football team in the 1990s, he also had spells playing for Leeds United and Oldham Athletic.[34]

Deaths[edit]

  • 6 July 2003: Bert Hoyle, 83, kept goal in 82 league games for Exeter City and 105 for Bristol Rovers in the seven seasons following the end of World War II before his senior career was ended by injuries sustained in a car crash.
  • 9 August 2003:
    • Jimmy Davis, 21, Manchester United and England U-21 striker, died in a car crash on the M40 just hours before the club to whom he had been loaned – Watford – were due to play. He had played once for Manchester United in a League Cup game, and had spent part of the 2001–02 season on loan to Swindon Town.
    • Ray Harford, 58, was best remembered for his managerial and coaching career – he was manager of Luton Town when they won the League Cup in 1988 and assistant manager of Blackburn Rovers when they were Premiership champions in 1995. He was promoted from the role of assistant manager to the manager's seat at three clubs – Luton Town, Wimbledon and Blackburn Rovers. He also had spells in charge of Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and finally Queens Park Rangers. His last post was as first-team coach at Millwall, and helped them win the Division Two title in 2001. He was still on the club's payroll at the time of his death from lung cancer.
  • 4 September 2003: Harold Atkinson, 78, scored 91 league goals as a centre-forward for Tranmere Rovers in the nine seasons following the end of World War II before finishing his senior career with a spell at Chesterfield.
  • 26 October 2003: Steve Death, 54, made one appearance in goal for West Ham United under Ron Greenwood before signing for Reading in 1969 and remaining with them until his retirement 13 years later, playing 471 league games. He was the club's player of the year four times, won promotion from the Fourth Division twice, kept 26 clean sheets in a single season and went a record 1,103 minutes of league football without conceding a goal.
  • 28 November 2003: Ted Bates, 85, served Southampton for 66 years until his death as a player, coach, manager, director and president. He scored 63 goals for the club as a forward and during his 18-year spell as manager took the club into the top flight for the first time in 1966.
  • 1 February 2004: Bob Stokoe, 73, was manager of the Sunderland side who achieved a shock F.A Cup victory over Leeds United in the 1973 final. He later managed Carlisle United and returned to Sunderland during the 1986–87 season, but quit after failing to save them from relegation to the old Third Division for the first time in their history.
  • 14 February 2004: Steve Cooper, 39, former striker who played nine Football League clubs during his career, most notably Tranmere Rovers and Plymouth Argyle, where he was a key member of promotion-winning sides. Later joined Scottish side Airdrie where he was a member of the side that surprisingly reached the Scottish FA Cup final in 1995.
  • 21 February 2004: John Charles, 72, was the most famous Leeds United player in the pre Don Revie era. His exploits for Leeds United and the Welsh national team attracted attention from all over the world and he was sold to Italian side Juventus in 1958.
  • 21 June 2004: Ron Ashman, 78, was a full-back for most of his 592 league appearances for Norwich City between 1947 and 1963, during which time they reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1959 and won the League Cup in 1962. He became manager soon after the club's League Cup triumph and remained in charge until 1966. In the first of two spells as manager of Scunthorpe United, he sold Kevin Keegan to Liverpool.

References[edit]

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  14. ^ McKenzie, Andrew (9 January 2004). "Osgood backing for Hughes". BBC News. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "Barclaycard Premiership 2003/2004. Historical league standings at 31st January 2004". Retrieved 27 Apr 2013. 
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