2003–04 in English football

Last updated

Football in England
Season2003–04
Men's football
FA Premier League Arsenal
First Division Norwich City
Second Division Plymouth Argyle
Third Division Doncaster Rovers
Football Conference Chester City
FA Cup Manchester United
Football League Trophy Blackpool
League Cup Middlesbrough
Community Shield Manchester United
2002–03 Flag of England.svg 2004–05

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

Contents

Overview

Arsenal completed the season without losing a league match, becoming champions of the Premiership in the process.

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

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 United 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 Football League One.

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. Queens Park Rangers 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 avoided 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

National team

DateVenueOpponentsScoreCompetitionEngland scorers
20 August 2003 Portman Road, Ipswich Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 3–1F David Beckham (pen), Michael Owen, Frank Lampard
6 September 2003 Skopje City Stadium, Skopje Flag of North Macedonia.svg  Macedonia 2–1ECQ Wayne Rooney, David Beckham (pen)
10 September 2003 Old Trafford, Manchester Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein 2–0ECQ Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney
11 October 2003 Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 0–0ECQ
16 November 2003 Old Trafford, Manchester Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 2–3F Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole
14 February 2004 Estádio Algarve, Faro Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1–1F Ledley King
31 March 2004 Nya Ullevi Stadion, Gothenburg Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 0–1F
1 June 2004 City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 1–1FA Michael Owen
5 June 2004 City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 6–1FA Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney (2), Darius Vassell (2), Wayne Bridge
13 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon Flag of France.svg  France 1–2ECF Frank Lampard
17 June 2004 Estádio Cidade, Coimbra Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 3–0ECF Wayne Rooney (2), Steven Gerrard
21 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 4–2ECF Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney (2), Frank Lampard
24 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1–1 (FT), 2–2 (aet), 5–6 (P)ECF Michael Owen, Frank Lampard

Honours

CompetitionWinner
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

CompetitionQualifiersReason 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

FA Premier League

Despite the Premiership title picture being a three-horse race for much of the campaign, 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 £100 million summer spending spree. After losing defender Rio Ferdinand to an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test in September, defending champions Manchester United turned in some lacklustre performances during the second half of the season, which put paid to their hopes of retaining their crown and restricting them to a third-place finish, some 15 points behind Arsenal. Solace came in the form of a record 11th FA Cup triumph, defeating Millwall 3–0 in the final at the Millennium Stadium.

Liverpool were the final team to qualify for the Champions League, finishing in fourth place, but leaving them 30 points behind Arsenal and slightly closer to the relegation zone than the title winners, and manager Gérard 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 18th 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, despite finishing behind bitter rivals Southampton, who recovered from the sudden resignation of Gordon Strachan in March to finish 12th.

Newly promoted Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers both went down after just one season (Wolves not gaining one away win all season), while Leeds United's Premiership status was crushed under a multi-million pound debt which had been mounting relentlessly for the best part of three years, as their relegation ultimately became a matter of when rather than if, ending their top-flight membership after 14 successive seasons among the elite.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1 Arsenal (C)38261207326+4790Qualification for the Champions League group stage
2 Chelsea 3824776730+3779
3 Manchester United 3823696435+2975Qualification for the Champions League third qualifying round [lower-alpha 1]
4 Liverpool 381612105537+1860
5 Newcastle United 38131785240+1256Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round
6 Aston Villa 381511124844+456
7 Charlton Athletic 381411135151053
8 Bolton Wanderers 381411134856853
9 Fulham 381410145246+652
10 Birmingham City 381214124348550
11 Middlesbrough 38139164452848Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 2]
12 Southampton 381211154445147
13 Portsmouth 38129174754745
14 Tottenham Hotspur 381361947571045
15 Blackburn Rovers 38128185159844
16 Manchester City 38914155554+141
17 Everton 389121745571239
18 Leicester City (R)386151748651733Relegation to the Football League Championship
19 Leeds United (R)38892140793933
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers (R)387121938773933
Source: Premier League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion; (R) Relegated.
Notes:
  1. Since Manchester United qualified for the Champions League, their place in the UEFA Cup as 2003–04 FA Cup winners went to First Division club Millwall, who were the FA Cup runners-up.
  2. Middlesbrough qualified as the 2003–04 Football League Cup winners.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 30

Football League First Division

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.

West Ham continued to sell most of their top players following relegation the previous season, but overcame the sudden sacking of Glenn Roeder only three games into the season, with his replacement Alan Pardew guided them to 4th place, with the loss to Crystal Palace in the playoff final the only disappointment. Wigan's first season in the First Division saw them finish two points of the play-off places in seventh, failing to win any of their last 4 games, although they did finish above last season's losing playoff finalists Sheffield United on goal difference.

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.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion, qualification or relegation
1 Norwich City (C, P)46281087939+4094Promotion to the FA Premier League
2 West Bromwich Albion (P)462511106442+2286
3 Sunderland 462213116245+1779Qualification for the First Division play-offs
4 West Ham United 461917106745+2274
5 Ipswich Town 462110158472+1273
6 Crystal Palace (O, P)462110157261+1173
7 Wigan Athletic 461817116045+1571
8 Sheffield United 462011156556+971
9 Reading 462010165557270
10 Millwall 461815135548+769Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 1]
11 Stoke City 461812165855+366
12 Coventry City 461714156754+1365
13 Cardiff City 461714156858+1065
14 Nottingham Forest 461515166151+1060
15 Preston North End 461514176971259
16 Watford 4615121954681457
17 Rotherham United 461315185361854
18 Crewe Alexandra 461411215766953
19 Burnley 4613141960771753
20 Derby County 4613132053671452
21 Gillingham 461492348671951
22 Walsall (R)4613122145652051Relegation to Football League One
23 Bradford City (R)461063038693136
24 Wimbledon (R)46853341894829
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.
Notes:
  1. Since the FA Cup winners Manchester United qualified for the Champions League, their place in the UEFA Cup went to Millwall, who were the FA Cup runners-up.

Leading goalscorer: Andrew Johnson (Crystal Palace) – 27

Football League Second Division

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.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Plymouth Argyle (C, P)46261288541+4490Promoted
2 Queens Park Rangers (P)46221778045+3583
3 Bristol City 462313105837+2182Participated in play-offs
4 Brighton & Hove Albion (O, P)462211136443+2177
5 Swindon Town 462013137658+1873
6 Hartlepool United 462013137661+1573
7 Port Vale 462110157363+1073
8 Tranmere Rovers 461716135956+367
9 Bournemouth 461715145651+566
10 Luton Town 461715146966+366
11 Colchester United 461713165256464
12 Barnsley 461517145458462
13 Wrexham 461792050601060
14 Blackpool 461611195865759
15 Oldham Athletic 461221136660+657
16 Sheffield Wednesday 4613141948641653
17 Brentford 4614112152691753
18 Peterborough United 461216185858052
19 Stockport County 461119166270852
20 Chesterfield 4612151949712251
21 Grimsby Town (R)4613112255812650Relegated
22 Rushden & Diamonds (R)461392460741448
23 Notts County (R)4610122450782842
24 Wycombe Wanderers (R)466192150752537
Source: [30]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.

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

Football League Third Division

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 1990s. 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 earned 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.

Despite winning 4 out of their last 5 games, Yeovil missed out on the playoffs on goal difference in their first ever season in the Football League, while Swansea, nearly relegated the previous season, finished 10th, but were still closer to the drop zone than the playoffs.

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.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Doncaster Rovers [lower-alpha 1] (C, P)46271187937+4292Promoted
2 Hull City (P)46251388244+3888
3 Torquay United (P)462312116844+2481
4 Huddersfield Town (O, P)462312116852+1681Participated in play-offs
5 Mansfield Town 46229157662+1475
6 Northampton Town 46229155851+775
7 Lincoln City 461917106847+2174
8 Yeovil Town [lower-alpha 1] 46235187057+1374
9 Oxford United 461817115544+1171
10 Swansea City 461514175861359
11 Boston United 461611195054459
12 Bury 4615112054641056
13 Cambridge United 4614141855671256
14 Cheltenham Town 4614141857711456
15 Bristol Rovers 4614131950611155
16 Kidderminster Harriers 4614131945591455
17 Southend United 4614122051631254
18 Darlington 461411215361853
19 Leyton Orient 4613141948651753
20 Macclesfield Town 4613132054691552
21 Rochdale 461214204958950
22 Scunthorpe United 461116196972349
23 Carlisle United (R)461292546692345Relegated to Conference
24 York City (R)4610142235663144
Source: [30]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.
Notes:
  1. 1 2 New club in the league

Leading goalscorer: Steve MacLean (Scunthorpe United) – 23

National league system

Cup competitions

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

Football Conference

Northern Premier League

Southern League

Isthmian League

Other leagues

LeagueChampionsNotes
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

Summer transfer window

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

January transfer window

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

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

Retirements

Famous debutants

Retirements

Deaths

Related Research Articles

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