The Championship – The most competitive?

First of all, bear with me. I am not by any means saying it is the greatest league in terms of ability, as that’s a ludicrous idea. What I am suggesting is that it’s the most competitive and thus enjoyable league to watch and here is why…

The Championship has had a grand total of 55 teams play in it since it’s formation in 2004, these have been as varied as Leicester City and Yeovil Town. Yet the difference in these teams fortunes is very clear, one became champions of England and the other faced two successive relegation’s and is now languishing in League 2 and was very nearly relegated out of the football league. But why the gap?

There is really no definitive answer as the logical explanation would be that teams who were just relegated from the Premier League would be more successful than those who were just promoted from League 1. But you then need to look at the fact Sunderland were relegated in the immediate season after relegation from the Prem whilst teams like Leicester, Huddersfield and Bournemouth were able to cruise the Championship and join the Premier League. This is all despite the significant gap in ability you would assume between teams with transfer budgets bigger than the value of clubs in their league (Cardiff City 2014 £9.8 million compared to Yeovil Town with a value of £5.6 million at the time) yet this is often proven wrong such as below where a late Kasper Schmeichel goal (wrongly credited to Chris Wood) got Leicester a 1-1 draw against Yeovil in the final minutes of their game.

For example, in the 2017/18 season in the Championship, it was highly expected that Aston Villa and Wolves would return to the Premier League. What no one really expected was for Cardiff City and Fulham to be promoted ahead of Villa, Middlesbrough and even Derby. The next interesting part is how none of the teams promoted from League 1 were relegated that season. Millwall finished 8th (3 points off playoff), Sheffield United finished 10th (6 points off playoffs) and Bolton finished 21st (2 points from relegation).

The thing with this league is how it is known for fallen giants who are sleeping e.g Nottingham Forest, Blackburn (most of the time until they are relegated ) even Leeds. Yet these teams are being beaten by upstarts, rogue teams who are disillusioned to the norm and have began revolutionising. Take a look in League 2 for example. Forest Green Rovers (FGR) are completely the opposite of norms in modern football. A vegan, family football club who are the first to be given Carbon Neutral status as a club.

Whilst they are several divisions below the Championship, they often give opponents trouble in the cups when they face them, such as taking Derby to the limits in a game they just lost 4-3 showing the steps they had made. I’m remarking on this as since they have begun their new ‘green revolution’ they have been performing dramatically better than expected and have gained plaudits for their football. Teams promoted from League 1 to the Championship are often becoming more lively and enjoyable to watch with their football and are not only gaining crucial results in the league, but also gaining the supporters in their stadium. Wigan were just promoted last season and are currently in 7th place (2 goal difference from playoffs) and had around 10,000 come to their stadium to watch them beat Bristol City in September.

The ultimate thing with this league is that it is the intermediate. The gap that separates the upper echelons of Manchester United and co from the bottom rung such as Lincoln, Fleetwood and others. It is seen as the best league for results for fans as they can go absolutely anyway possible. Virtually everyone in the world saw the now famous Watford vs Leicester play off which was possibly the most exiting end to a game ever. It is pure football, anyone has a chance and this is why I love it. You could be the former greatest team in the world or you can be playing your first season in a stadium with under 10000 capacity. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a great season no matter what.

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