The Premier League has long hyped itself as the Best League in the World and while this at times seems like aggressive marketing guff, in terms of entertainment it’s definitely in the conversation.
We’re spoiled in England, because a division below we also have arguably the most competitive, unpredictable league in the world and these are both factors which mean that there’s an argument that again, in terms of entertainment, it’s actually the best...
This year The Championship will be as intense as ever and I can say that with confidence as from a neutral point of view it simply never disappoints. The length of the season and the four play-off places make it the perfect environment for unpredictability. It seems like every season features an unfancied team who’ve been hanging around in mid-table making the play-offs by timing a run of form to perfection. It’s so difficult to predict who will be in the mix by the end.
There may be a gulf in quality between the Premier League and The Championship but it’s not so big that it can’t be bridged. Teams like Stoke City and Swansea have gotten out and stayed out. By the business end of the season the top of the table is like a giant prison break, with everyone desperate to escape. That motivation gives it a frenzied intensity as the spoils are so high, while failure is utterly demoralising, with it all having to be done again next season. Despite everything that’s great about it, the Premier League doesn’t have an equivalent of this.
By it’s very nature The Championship can’t be top heavy with the same teams dominating every year and that makes it feel like more of a level playing field. Yes there are big teams like Leeds, Aston Villa and Newcastle – and how nice is it to see Newcastle fans actually being able to enjoy themselves again? - but the pack shuffles every season. Teams like Derby and Brighton and Hove Albion have come close time and time again only to fall short, yet that was also true of Middlesbrough and they finally managed it. It’s an incredibly tough league to get out of but when a team build something and click they often dazzle, as Leicester did just a few short years ago – and we all know how that turned out.
The Championship is a credit to the sport and we’re lucky to have it. So many people are growing weary of the over the top glitz of the Premier League but the Championship doesn’t have this. The standard is high and the support is fervent. In fact, it’s so well supported that last season only the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga attracted a bigger overall attendance and it was even the 10th most attended league in the world across any sport.
We have something special here. It may be a tough league to get out of, but for fans of any club involved it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate that there are few places it’s as good to be.
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