WITH relegation beckoning, Sheffield United - facing a drop of over £4 million in TV revenue alone - are braced to have their fate confirmed this weekend.
Behind the scenes, the club are planning for the massive financial implications that relegation will mean.
On the pitch, the Blades know that they must win both matches over Easter if they are to keep their remote hopes alive.
But they also know they could be relegated on Saturday or quite likely on Monday.
For them to be definitely relegated on Saturday requires two results to happen - firstly Crystal Palace MUST win at Doncaster Rovers on Friday afternoon. If it is a draw then United cannot mathematically go down on Saturday,
But should Palace win (and they haven’t won away from home since October 19) then a home defeat for United to Bristol City the following day would confirm the Blades’ drop through the trapdoor to League One.
Any other combination of results in those two matches means United could not go down on Saturday and the spotlight would then move on to the Easter Monday game at Reading.
If the gap to fourth-bottom is more than six points after that game, then United’s relegation is confirmed as only two games remain afterwards - Barnsley at home and Swansea away.
United, understandably, are reluctant to publicly comment on future plans until their fate is decided one way or the other.
It is still possible for them to survive although this would almost certainly require them to win their final four games - and they have won only two of their last 19.
Just four years after dropping out of the Premier League, with all the financial losses that incurred, United must now prepare for another catastrophic hit to their resources and income.
Early season ticket sales have held up well and are just below this season’s figure of 10,000, but attendances are certain to drop and earners such as sponsorship and corporate hospitality are likely to suffer.
In addition, a number of players are likely to be off-loaded, particularly the bigger earners, and there are likely to be Championship clubs poised to tempt United to part with some of their more established players. (See Pages 8 and 9.)
Manager Micky Adams knows that the wage bill will be cut as he looks at putting together his own squad.
The player who scored United’s last goal in the Premier League on the day they went down against Wigan, Jon Stead, is back on Saturday with Bristol City so it’s possible he could relegate them from the Championship.
Goals from Danny Philliskirk, Kris Lokberg, Andras Gardos and Jordan Chappell gave the Blades reserves a 4-1 win over Rotherham at Don Valley.
Sheffield United will play Manchester United in the two legged FA Youth Cup Final after they beat Chelsea 4-0 for a 6-3 aggregate win in the semi-final at Old Trafford.