The Championship is often viewed as being the most competitive league in Britain. Where that statement may be debatable, what certainly has more credit is that the league is one of the most difficult to escape from. With the influx of foreign investors intent on spending to chase the promotion dream, the upcoming season is set to be the most compelling yet.
The Championship is littered with famous clubs; founder members of the football league, European Cup winners, FA Cup winners and household names accustomed to life in the top flight in the not so distant past. All are vying, with various strategies and budgets, to get to the Premier League.
Over half of the clubs are now foreign owned too – 13 of this season’s 24 Championship teams have foreign owners or those who are significant shareholders.
Dr Xia and Aston Villa broke the Championship transfer record by signing Ross McCormack for a fee of around £12m in 2016. That figure is set to be bettered by Wolverhampton Wanderers as they look to sign Ruben Neves for a reported £15m. Wolves who finished 15th last season are now another name to be added to a growing list of ambitious promotion hopefuls.
The Premiership is the holy grail. It’s where all owners want to be. Commercially, the benefits and prizes on available offer rich rewards. Being in the top league means facing star players and the biggest teams, this, in turn, helps increase gate revenue as ticket prices will rise and more fans are attracted to each match.
With higher status means the potential to attract better players to the club as well as expand the Aston Villa brand on a global scale. The pitfalls lie in balancing the books, keeping wages at an appropriate level and of course, staying in the division. As we know all too well, just existing in the Premier League can have disastrous effects.
The difficulty with life in the Premiership is that the league is a foregone formality. The top 6 teams are set in stone and it is just a factor of where they will finish where the excitement lies. The 7th position usually falls to Everton and then from 8th to 20th, it is largely a lottery of where each team will finish.
The sums of money needed just to stay alive in the top league are startling and without investment, teams will quickly be replaced by others that are willing to pay. Which is why as fans, being in a league (Championship) where there is hope, and in some cases expectation of our team actually winning the league, offers fans a feel-good factor. With our Premiership aims, we must hope that the feeling of relative success and consistent winning (whenever it starts) lasts no more than the one season it takes to get promoted.
With our Premiership aims, we must hope that the feeling of relative success and consistent winning (whenever it starts) lasts no more than the one season it takes to get promoted.