Arbroath FC: the part-time Scottish Championship side who could eclipse Leicester City title win

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The Angus side head to Rugby Park this Friday to face Kilmarnock in a massive fixture that could decide who is promoted to the Premiership next season.

The 2021/22 football season in England has been classic so far, particularly in the Premier League, where both the title race and relegation battles look set to go down to the wire.

There’s also so much at stake in the EFL, from the Championship to League Two, not to mention Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham all still competing in Europe.

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However, north of the border there is something quite special happening with one club looking to achieve a feat that their manager believes would eclipse even the unlikeliness of Leicester City’s 2015/16 Premier League win.

It doesn’t involve Celtic or Rangers or even any of the other names that may be more familiar to those who don’t follow the Scottish game such as Aberdeen, Hearts or Hibs.

It concerns Arbroath FC, a part-time outfit from a town with a population roughly the same as Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire or Falmouth in Cornwall.

This Friday night, live on TV, The Red Lichties head to Kilmarnock in the penultimate game of the Scottish Championship season.

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Only one point separates the two teams with Killie top and Arbroath second, meaning that the part-timers are two wins away from winning promotion to Scotland’s top flight.

Who are Arbroath FC and why is this so special?

Dick Campbell has lead Arbroath from the bottom of League 2 to the top of the Championship during his six seasons in charge at the Angus clubDick Campbell has lead Arbroath from the bottom of League 2 to the top of the Championship during his six seasons in charge at the Angus club
Dick Campbell has lead Arbroath from the bottom of League 2 to the top of the Championship during his six seasons in charge at the Angus club | Graham Black

To understand why this would be such an incredible achievement, we have to go back to the 2015/16 season when Leicester City defied all the odds to be crowned Champions of England.

Arbroath FC finished second bottom of the SPFL structure (ninth in League Two), narrowly avoiding a potential play-off which could have seen them relegated to the Highland League if they lost.

In the latter half of that season the club replaced Todd Lumsden with veteran manager Dick Campbell who had just spent seven years at the helm of their Angus rivals Forfar Athletic.

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The turnaround at Gayfield was as unlikely as it was rapid and Campbell took them to the League 2 title in his first full season in the dugout.

Fast forward six years after his appointment and the Red Lichties have come through League 1 as champions and established themselves in the second tier - but can they go even further?

No part-time team has even come close to reaching the Scottish top flight in the modern era, it’s something that just seems far too improbable.

Anyone who has ever tuned into an FA Cup game expecting a giant killing knows the story, these players run the gamut from teachers to bin men when it comes to their day jobs.

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This isn’t a one off cup tie though, nor is it the one season wonder that Leicester’s title win proved to be - this is sustained success and improvement over several seasons of football.

All roads lead to Rugby Park this Friday night with around 1,200 loyal Lichties already snapping up tickets for what could be the Championship title decider.

For Kilmarnock, who are under the stewardship of former Aberdeen and Bristol City boss Derek McInnes, a win in this match means they will be crowned champions but all hope is not lost for the visitors as they have confirmed a place in the play-offs and will have a second shot at promotion via the play-offs.

The match will go out live on the BBC Scotland channel (Sky channel 115) and will be available to stream live on the BBC Sport website.

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