Which teams look set to be challenging for the Championship’s top honours?

By | September 20, 2011

Whilst every team in the Championship would like to win the league, a few have more of a realistic chance than others

It’s been said time and time again that England’s Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in all of football, and as such, it really is nearly impossible to predict which team is going to finish top of it come the end of the season.

Unlike the Premier League, which features perhaps only two or three teams that ever have a realistic chance of winning, there are a great number of teams in the Championship who look like they could be title contenders.

Whilst every team has their own aspirations at the start of the season – not to mention those of their supporters, who dream of their local side playing in the richest league in the world next season – there are some teams that are more likely to be challenging for the top honours at the end of the year than others. Some of the weaker teams in the league – or those that have just been promoted from League One – might be content just to avoid relegation over the course of the season, allowing them to reap the benefits of the increased attendances and lucrative television deals that the Championship brings with it rather than attempting to win promotion.

With that in mind, early season form shows that the newly relegated teams from the Premier League, like West Ham and Blackpool, might be there or thereabouts come the end of the campaign. However, it’s hardly a shoe-in that the winning team will be one that’s just been relegated from the top-flight. There are plenty of big-name teams currently plying their trade in the Championship who will be eager to win their way back up to the Premier League in style. Teams like Derby County and Middlesbrough have rich pedigrees, and have to be considered strong contenders to end the season on top of the Championship, having both made good starts. There are also teams like Cardiff, who seem to have been knocking on the door of the Premier League for years now – it could well be their season to finish atop the Championship.

One of the best aspects of the Championship though, is that teams don’t necessarily have to win the league to win promotion to “the richest league in the world”. Indeed, the team that finishes second wins a promotion spot as well, as does the winner of the end of season play-offs between the teams that finish between third and sixth spot. The play-off winners in particular have been hard to predict in recent seasons – anyone that told you they thought teams like Blackpool and Swansea were sure-fire bets to win promotion in the years they went up through the play-offs are flat-out liars! One thing’s for certain though, whatever teams win promotion at the end of the year, whether they’re the league winners, the second placed team or the play-off winners, they’ll have earned it.