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Championship is the best football league in the world

The EFL Championship is the greatest football league in the world, argues Jack Bleksley

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Many English football fans argue that the Premier League is the best league in the world. Some argue that other European leagues such as Spain’s La Liga or Italy’s Serie A are superior. I am here to inform that they are all wrong. Whilst it may be argued that the Premier League has more quality than any other, the English Football League Championship (Championship for short), is in fact the greatest football league in the world. Each year 24 teams compete for a chance to be promoted to the Premier League. The top two teams go up automatically whereas 3rd to 6th battle it out in the Play-Offs with the final being played at Wembley Stadium. The bottom three clubs get relegated to League One.

The Championship is a notoriously close league. Very rarely do one team run away with it and rack up a huge lead at the top. If they do then you can guarantee that the rest of the league is close enough to remain interesting. As of the 10 th of February 2022, only 5 points separate 6 th place and 14th place. In addition, the league also produces some very unexpected results. Everyone beats everyone. In January, for example, 19 th placed Hull City beat promotion contenders Blackburn Rovers and AFC Bournemouth in the same week. Talking of the unexpected, in the 2009/10 season Blackpool FC were favourites to be relegated to League One. They clinched 6 th place on the last day of the season by just one point and then went on to win the Play-Offs, thereby securing promotion to the Premier League. Proof that truly anything can happen in the Championship, one of the reasons that it is the greatest in the world.

Many of the greatest players in the world play in Europe’s top flights. But watching Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappé and Lewandowski is all well and good but in the Championship, you can watch young players emerge and be able to say “I saw him play before you did”. There has been a lot of world-class talent nurtured in the Championship. 19 of England’s 26 man squad that went to Euro 2020 had played in the Championship. Jude Bellingham had his breakout season with Birmingham in the Championship. The most expensive English player ever, Jack Grealish, has 89 Championship appearances for Aston Villa.

Moving away from English players, Adel Taarabt had one of the most memorable seasons for QPR in the 2010/11 season. Scoring 19 goals and 23 assists in 44 league appearances as well as winning Championship player of the year, it is an individual season that lives long in the memories of many Championship fans. And when it comes to talent, it is important to note that there were players from the Championship at Euro 2020 than there were players from
France’s top division, Ligue 1. It would be foolish of me to try to argue that the Championship has the most skilful or most talented players in the world. This simply isn’t true. However, the joy of watching a young player emerge who goes on to have a wonderful career is a feeling that viewers of many top flights don’t witness too often.

As I have already mentioned the Championship contains one of the most riveting and exciting events in world sport. The play-offs. The teams that finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth battle it out in two semi-finals and a final to see who takes the third promotion spot to the Premier League. The Championship Play-Off Final is the most valuable game in world football, with last year’s final being worth a staggering £170 million. The Play-Offs have seen some of the most memorable moments in English football history. From Troy Deeney’s stoppage time winner in the 2013 semi-final after
Anthony Knockaert's missed penalty to Bobby Zamora’s famous left footed strike to send QPR into the Premier League in 2014. Premier League fans will never know the agony or ecstasy of watching their team in the Play-Offs. I feel sorry for them. At least they can fret over whether or not they’ll get a place in the Europa Conference League.

One of the best things about the Championship is the difference in size of some of the clubs. At the same time clubs with huge resources and recent Premier League status such as Sheffield United, Bournemouth and West Brom play against clubs with smaller budgets who have recently come up from League One such as Peterborough or Blackpool. And as I’ve already mentioned, the best part is that sometimes, the smaller teams beat the bigger teams. There aren’t many football leagues in the world where you can see a player such as Jefferson Lerma, worth £25 million, play against a team like Peterborough with a squad value of £10 million. This is one of the beautiful elements of the Championship. It shows that not always does splashing the cash lead to success. Sometimes you need lower league grit and determination.

I hope that after reading this piece you agree with me that the Championship is in fact the best football league in the world. If not, I at least implore you to watch a little more of England’s second division. It truly is a marvellous spectacle and you might find it to be a nice break from all of the glitz and glamour of the top-flight.

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