Reeling Rams are the biggest question mark among relegated sides

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney during the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Park Stadium, Derby

Wayne Rooney did a superb job in very difficult circumstances at Derby County in 2021/22 - and there's still a lot of issues to face at Pride Park - Credit: PA

While the final spots in League One for next season are yet to be decided, we know which three sides will be dropping down from the Championship into the third tier. Mark Heath profiles them...

Derby County

Finished: 23rd

Leading scorer: Tom Lawrence (11)

Odds to win L1 in 2022/23: 9/1

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney and Andre Wisdom during the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Pa

Rooney's Derby County would have comfortably stayed up were it not for a huge 21 point deduction - Credit: PA

Any look at the relegated sides has to start with Derby. The former First Division champions experienced an unbelievable campaign both on and off the pitch.

The Pride Park outfit were docked a total of 21 points due to their mounting financial troubles, but boss Wayne Rooney worked wonders with them to battle against what looked to be certain relegation  - the fact they didn't finish bottom was somewhat remarkable.

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Indeed, without that deduction, the Rams would have finished safe in 17th in the table, 18 points clear of Peterborough and the drop.

So, on paper at least, a side which was good enough to stay in the Championship has been relegated - making them a fairly ominous prospect for League One foes next season.

But there are so many off-field questions at Derby that it's impossible to tell just how the Rams will look and what sort of threat they will be in 2022/23.

The club has been in administration since September, and the ongoing takeover drama continues to rumble on. American Chris Kirchner is on the verge of buying the club, but issues surrounding the ownership of Pride Park - former owner Mel Morris still owns the ground - are proving a sticking point. Kirchner has until midnight tonight as the exclusive bidder, as it stands.

Until the club is in new hands and debts are repaid, the Rams will remain in administration - meaning they are under a transfer embargo and can't offer new deals to any of their own players.

Idris El Mizouni says he took inspiration from former Ipswich Town loanee Tom Lawrence. Photo: Steve

Idris El Mizouni says he took inspiration from former Ipswich Town loanee Tom Lawrence. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Derby have just five first team players contracted beyond the summer. Former Ipswich Town loanee Tom Lawrence - the Rams' captain and leading scorer - is not among them.

But Rooney says he and the whole squad want to stay and get the Rams back into the Championship.

"It is so rare and so unique and so positive that they all want to stay," Rooney told the BBC. "The players love being here."

He added: "I can say 95% of the players in there I would want to keep, but what I can't do is tell them what the salary will be.

"The players who are out of contract, I know there are other clubs sniffing round them and putting salaries in front of them which unfortunately sometimes that is what it takes."

So there's still a huge amount which needs to be resolved in the Midlands. But if - and it's a series of big ifs - the takeover gets done, the Rams avoid any further point deductions, Rooney stays on and retains the majority of his squad, Derby figure to be contenders next season. 

Or, of course, the Rams could lose all their top players, have to replace them with free agents and loans, and continue to implode.

Either way, there are plenty more chapters of the story to be written this summer and beyond.

Peterborough United

Finished: 22nd

Leading scorer: Jonson Clarke-Harris (12)

Odds: 16/1

Peterborough United's Jonson Clarke-Harris celebrates scoring their side's third goal of the game wi

Peterborough United's Jonson Clarke-Harris has been named League One player of the year - Credit: PA

Posh, the last side to be condemned to the drop, were one and done in the Championship after eight years of trying to get back to the second tier.

They went out on a high though, thrashing Blackpool 5-0 in their last game of the season, former Colchester star Sammie Szmodics bagging a brace and ex-Town prospect Jack Marriott also netting.

On paper at least, they look to be the outfit with the best chance of bouncing straight back - depending on what unfolds at Pride Park.

Relegation doesn't seem to have dampened fans' enthusiasm for the club, with more season tickets sold already than this time last year, and London Road is always a tough place to go in League One.

Boss Grant McCann - who replaced Darren Ferguson after he left the club for a third time in February - has wasted little time in starting the ball rolling for next season.

He's released former Ipswich keeper David Cornell, plus Serhat Tasdemir and Kyle Barker, while transfer-listing five more players.

Ipswich keeper David Cornell in action against AFC Wimbledon.

David Cornell made just 10 league appearances for Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.com

Available for moves are stopper Christy Pym, defender Mark Beevers, midfielders Jorge Grant and Ryan Broom and striker Idris Kanu.

Key midfielder Jack Taylor is interesting Ipswich already this summer.

Keeping hold of top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris will be important too - but the 27-year-old, who plundered 33 goals in Posh's promotion season, is already talking about guiding his side back up to the Championship again.

"We will now be ready to start fast next season so we can get back into the Championship straight away," he told the Peterborough Telegraph.

"We believe in each other here. We look up to each other and we enjoy working under the gaffer and Cliff (Byrne, the assistant manager).

"The standards have shot up since they arrived and things would have been different if they’d arrived sooner.

“We finish on the 10th, but I’m not going on holiday."

Barnsley

Finished: 24th (bottom)

Leading scorer: Carlton Morris (nine)

Odds: 12/1

Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi looking dejected as relegation is confirmed

Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi looking dejected as relegation is confirmed. He left the club by mutual consent shortly afterwards - Credit: PA

Barnsley finished the season terribly, losing their last five matches, and were the Championship's lowest scorers by some distance, mustering just 33 goals.

Like Derby, they too are in disarray - although not nearly to the same extent -  after what the local press in Yorkshire described as a 'disastrous' season.

The Tykes are currently without a manager after the departure of Poya Asbaghi following relegation. He was the second boss to leave Barnsley this season, with Markus Schopp getting axed in November.

And co-chairmen Paul Conway and Chien Lee also left the club this week as part of a boardroom shake-up which saw fellow directors Dickson Lee and Grace Hung step down.

Martin Devaney, the club's U23 manager, took charge of the first team for the final three games of the season and says he wants to remain at the club, regardless of whether he gets the top job.

He's the favourite to take over, with other names apparently in the frame including former Town boss and noted Yorkshireman Mick McCarthy, Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth, ex-England star Jonathan Woodgate and former Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel. 

Barnsley's Carlton Morris (left) and Cauley Woodrow appear dejected during the Sky Bet Championship

Barnsley's Carlton Morris (left) and Cauley Woodrow react after the club was relegated. The duo were the team's leading scorers, but combined for just 13 goals - Credit: PA

"I will have discussions with the club after the season and, whatever they want to do, I will go with it," Devaney said.

"I love being a coach at this football club and I want to be part of the first team environment moving forward, trying to bring the good times back and get the people and the buzz back into the stadium."

On the pitch, while there were very few highlights in 2021/22, the club did see several academy products impress and earn playing time, providing some hope for next season and the future.

Whoever gets the manager's job, they'll need to find goalscorers for 2022/23 - Carlton Morris led the team with just nine strikes, with second-leading marksman Cauley Woodrow a long way behind on four.

Like Derby, there's a lot of work ahead for Barnsley if they are to contend next season.