Martin Smith: Time to end rivalry and form a Sheffield super club?

Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United in the 1993 FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley
Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United in the 1993 FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley
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Another year over, another 12 months of football mediocrity to forget.

Sheffield, a city of half a million people, the cradle of the game as we know it and we’re miles behind.

Miles behind places like Southampton, Swansea, Hull, Stoke, Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland. All technically smaller cities and all supporting Premiership teams.

But Sheffield, sad though it is to admit, is not big enough to fund, support or maintain two Premier League teams.

So it’s time, once again, to speak of the unmentionable. Not an idea dreamed up on the Star’s Christmas do or even one from our much-venerated Wishful Thinking Department.

This time it’s from former Wednesday director Joe Ashton.

Joe, now in his eighties but still a fan and teller of glorious tales, reckons it’s time to merge. The former Bassetlaw MP, playwright, national newspaper columnist and scourge of Thatcherites believes that only radical surgery can save the ailing patient that is Sheffield football.

“The fans are sick of it now, both sets,” said Joe.

“We’ve had to put up with rubbish for years and I think the majority of Sheffielders would get behind one team. People realise that we’re never going to get anywhere with two teams and that Sheffield is missing out on the big time. If you want to be in the Premier League you have to get a city behind the team. Wait until both teams are out of the FA Cup and then ask the fans when they’ve nowt to play for except survival.

“I also think a combined team could play at Bramall Lane or Hillsborough - not the Hillsborough ground as it is now, that will always be associated with the disaster that claimed 96 lives. They should knock it down and build a new, modern ground with a suitable memorial.

“Kevin McCabe has been trying to sell United for years and Mandaric is the same at Wednesday. If the two clubs were to combine, get the city right behind them then they could attract some big money from overseas investors, I’m sure of it.”

It’s controversial but it has logic.

Are Sheffield’s football fans ready for one team or are tribal loyalties still more important than a better chance of success?

I’m sure you’ll let us know.