The English Championship is the strongest second-tier league in the world. That much is a fact. It also boasts the third biggest crowds in Europe and is arguably the most lucrative league in the world thanks to the spoils and rewards of reaching the promised land of the EPL. As attractive as the Premier League is, many fans of Championship clubs are quick to point out that getting promoted isn’t the end of the world and that they’re happy enough to stay in the second tier of English football. With this in mind, can the Championship lay claim to the title of England’s “best” league?
An Ever-Increasing Standard
It’s fair to say that over the last decade or so, the standard of the Championship has improved rather dramatically. Increasing parachute payments has now meant that relegated teams are no longer forced to sell their best players and as a result, some top quality players still ply their trade in England’s second tier. As can be seen in most Championship betting, players such as Eddie Nketiah and Jordan Hugill (on loan from Arsenal and West Ham respectively) are amongst the favourites to take the Championship top scorer accolade this season. This is reflected in the fact that many Premier League clubs are now loaning out their best and brightest stars to Championship teams in a bid to develop their game, which in turn has improved the quality of the league.
Premier League, Sky and anyone else concerned will have you believe that as a fan, visiting The Etihad, The Emirates and Old Trafford is some sort of privilege and spiritual experience. And don’t get us wrong, these stadiums are incredible on your first or second visit. But in reality, these arenas are too quiet, too expensive and too soulless when compared to the traditional offerings of the Championship stadiums. With a number of big clubs relegated over the years, there’s now a healthy mix of venues in the second tier, which makes for a much interesting fan experience for anyone who follows one of these clubs.
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Although there are many common misconceptions about The Championship, one certainly rings true. Anybody can beat anybody. And some results leave you rubbing your eyes. Back in 2014, Reading failed to beat Yeovil (who went on to be relegated in 24th place) despite the Somerset outfit having three men sent off in the second half. As we’re all aware, the Premier League now is essentially split into three groups who no longer really compete on a level playing field. There are teams challenging for the top four places, those with aspirations of getting into the Europa League places and then the rest who could very easily finish 8th or 20th depending on the flip of a coin. The unpredictability of the Championship means that bar a couple of pre-season favourites, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be challenging for the title or even the golden boot come the end of the season. Teemu Pukki finishing top scorer last season with 29 goals is a shining example of this. And to us, that’s infinitely more absorbing than what happens in the league above.
A Matter of Taste
Although the Premier League is often cited as the “best” league in the world, many of us know that it may not even be the “best” league in England. The Championship is much more connected to real life, in that we are more concerned with the talents of the players as opposed to discussing how much money they’re on. Which is how it should be. However, it’s ultimately down to personal preference and if the Premier League still floats your boat then more power to you.