1989–90 in English football

The 1989–90 season was the 110th season of competitive football in England.

Overview

European competitions

English clubs were still banned from competing in European competitions following the Heysel Stadium disaster.

The Football League

First Division

Liverpool overhauled a greatly improved Aston Villa side to win their 18th league championship trophy and their fifth major trophy in as many seasons under Kenny Dalglish's management. To date, this remains their last league title. Gary Lineker's arrival at Tottenham Hotspur saw the North Londoners occupy third place after a season of improvement.

Luton Town stayed up on goal difference at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday's relegation, while Charlton's four-year spell in the First Division came to an end at the beginning of May. Millwall were rooted to the bottom of the division despite briefly topping the league in September.

Second Division

Leeds United finally returned to the top flight after an eight-year exile, as Howard Wilkinson's side lifted the Second Division championship trophy thanks to a superior goal difference over runners-up Sheffield United.

Swindon Town won the Second Division playoff final but Sunderland were promoted instead on away goals after the Swindon board admitted a series of financial irregularities. Swindon were initially relegated to the Third Division and replaced by Tranmere because Swindon began financial irregularities before competing in the playoffs, the division's losing Play-Off finalists, but this decision was later reversed on appeal and it allowed Swindon to finish 4th in one division and Tranmere to finish 4th in the other division.

A.F.C. Bournemouth, Stoke City and Bradford City occupied the relegation places.

Third Division

The city of Bristol was celebrating after Rovers were crowned champions and City finished runners-up in the Third Division to gain promotion. The third promotion spot was secured by playoff winners Notts County, who beat Associate Members Cup winners Tranmere Rovers at Wembley.

Walsall suffered a second successive relegation and would be joined in the Fourth Division the following season by Blackpool, Cardiff City and Northampton Town.

Fourth Division

Exeter City were crowned Fourth Division champions and went up to the Third Division along with runners-up Grimsby Town, third-placed Southend United and playoff winners Cambridge United. Newly promoted Maidstone United almost ended their first league season with success, but their promotion hopes were ended by playoff failure.

Colchester United were relegated from the league and replaced by Conference champions Darlington, who regained their league status just one season after losing it.

Cup competitions and Charity Shield

Main articles: FA Cup 1989–90, 1989–90 Football League Cup, Full Members Cup 1989–90, Football League Trophy 1989–90, and 1989 Charity Shield

Alex Ferguson silenced the critics who attacked him for a lack of progress in the league by guiding Manchester United to a 1–0 replay victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final, which was achieved after a 3–3 draw. The pivotal game in his side's season had been in the televised third round tie at Nottingham Forest, when a Mark Robins goal gave relegation-threatened United a surprise win and triggered improved times for the club. They won the cup despite not playing a home game along the way, and was Ferguson's first major trophy as United's manager.

The season produced arguably the most memorable combination of FA Cup semi-finals in history, as Crystal Palace surprisingly beat Liverpool 4–3 just a couple of hours before Manchester United and Oldham Athletic fought out a 3–3 draw, with United going on to win the replay 2–1.

Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest retained their League Cup by beating Oldham Athletic 1–0 at Wembley.

Meanwhile, Chelsea beat Middlesbrough 1–0 in the final of the Full Members Cup. It was the first of three Wembley finals between the pair in the 1990s.

New stadia

The season marked the beginning of the regular trend for clubs to leave their homes of many years and head for purpose built new stadia, following the bold move to Glanford Park by Scunthorpe United in 1988. Walsall and Chester City brought the curtain down on their many years at Fellows Park and Sealand Road respectively (both with games against Rotherham United). Walsall moved to the Bescot Stadium, while Chester began a groundshare with Macclesfield Town at Moss Rose until their new stadium was completed.

Meanwhile, Football Conference sides Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town relocated to Adams Park and Huish Park respectively.

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