Paul Gronow argues why he thinks the Sky Bet Championship is superior to the Premier League. Is he right?
You will have often heard it said by footballing pundits that the Premier League is the best league in the world, based mainly on the bumper TV deals and large crowds it draws week in/week out (not to mention the general high quality of matches on offer). Is this an accurate assessment or are they missing a trick by overlooking the very next division down?
Within the Premier League there is generally a small pool of likely winners with only Leicester City breaking the mould. In the 25 years since its formation there have only been 6 different winners; in stark comparison the Championship has seen 18 different winners over the same 25 years.
You can usually predict the teams that will compile the top 6 in the Premier League before any one has kicked a football in August, good luck trying to do that with the Championship. Variety is the spice of life as they say, and this is what makes the Championship so alluring; it really is wide-open and it’s not too unheard of to see a team promoted from League One going on to challenge for promotion during their very next season in the Championship.
It’s true to say that this can be a source of great frustration for fans who having seen their team win 4 in a row at home, go on to be defeated by a team currently battling relegation. As Championship veteran manager Dave Jones would say, “there are no easy games in this league”.
There can be anywhere upwards of 15 teams who can win the league let alone gain promotion and this makes for an extremely exciting rollercoaster ride, whoever you follow.
Local promising players
One of the greatest criticisms levelled at the Premier League is that it no longer gives enough room for talented, local young players to progress into the first team and become regulars. There are not many young players who play for Premier League teams who’ve come through the academy and grew up supporting the teams from the terraces.
Whilst the Championship has changed greatly over the years and now has more foreign imported players than ever before, there still remains a strong tradition for many clubs whereby young, local players can break through and make the transition into the first team.
There’s something special about a young supporter growing into a senior pro and whilst it’s a rare sight on Premier League pitches, it’s still alive and well in the Championship.
For the chosen few who have seen their teams ply their trade in the Championship and Premier League there can be quite a culture shock when it comes to the match day experience.
The sponsors now rule supreme and with the influx of huge television deals everything from the kick-off time to the plinth the match ball sits upon, is dictated by the money men. Whilst the changes are creeping into Championship football (just ask any Leeds United fan, they’re on Sky every other week), there’s still a resemblance of “the old days” where clubs can still decide what music plays when the teams enter the pitch.
Everything in the Premier League revolves around money and sponsors, the Championship is definitely heading in that direction but for now, it’s still got the old authentic touch and long may it continue.
The Premier League is clearly hugely enticing, every club in the Championship is striving to reach the so-called Promised Land after all, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?
The Championship has all of the excitement, much of the talent and some of the stars and remains the most unpredictable league in world football.
If you’re looking for a touch of the old-school days where football reigns and sponsors aren’t so important, where you never know who’s going to win from week to week, then the Championship is for you.