Is the Championship the most exciting league in England?

Reebok Bolton

It may lack the top stars of the Premiership, but if you're after goals and unexpected winners, then the Championship wins hands down.

It is often said of the Premiership that any team can beat another on a given match day. Whilst that is superficially true, at the end of the day those occasions are extremely rare, and very few teams have a real chance of challenging even for the top four places in the league.

Contrast this with the Championship, where in the last two years teams promoted from League 1 have finished second and been promoted. Trying to judge who is going to do well in the Championship before the start of the season is as tricky as picking a Grand National winner, there are certainly some favourites, but no-one really knows for sure what's going to happen.

There is also the excitement of the play-offs. Every year a team drifting around in mid-table or lower suddenly puts together a run of form, and before you know it, they're on the brink of the Premiership. This kind of form can carry them even higher, as Reading's extraordinary post-Christmas run to the title showed last year. At the end of the season, you can usually count on one hand the amount of teams with nothing to play for in the last couple of weeks.

There is a worry that the huge parachute payments teams relegated form the Premiership receive may distort the balance of the Championship, but these fears often seem unfounded. This year Bolton are struggling and Blackburn aren't dominating despite the money they spent in the summer, whilst newly promoted Huddersfield are in the table's upper reaches.

Another exciting factor in the Championship is the amount of matches played. Especially at the start of the season, whilst the Premiership is slowly getting into gear, there seems to be a game each midweek. As a result there's always a team coming into form or dropping out of it, with those who struggle at the start given quick opportunities to turn it around.

Finally, there’s one more thing I love about the Championship, the teams. It seems that nearly all of them have a recent history of Premiership football, and most of them believe they are entitled to it again.

This combination of pride and history seems to represent the idea of English football better than the Premiership, for all its glamour. Though you cannot disparage England’s top league really, it is an incredible success and full of amazing players. But it is more of a global brand, the Championship remains resolutely ours.

image: © Matthew Wilkinson

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