The performances of Newcastle United, Brighton and Huddersfield Town this season have prompted a few people to ask the question as to whether or not the gap between the Premier League and the Championship is shortening? This is quite a difficult question to answer because the subject matter is actually far more complex than it seems on the surface.
Clearly the so called “big six” in the Premier League are in a completely different “league” to even the rest of the Premier League let alone the Championship. It is simply inconceivable for any Championship club (with the exception of Newcastle United perhaps) to have any chance of breaking into the top six on a regular basis. However, there have always been Premier League teams that have gone through chronic problems and even mismanagement in the past.
The Door is Open
This means that every single season, certain established Premier League teams struggle. This opens the door for promoted teams to survive that tough first season in the Premier League. There are several key reasons why we should expect promoted Championship teams to do better than expected after getting promotion. The first is the overall quality of the Championship. This league is much tougher than many non-football experts imagine.
What we need to remember is that three teams are relegated from the Premier League into that division every season. Recently they have been relegated with impending “parachute payments” just around the corner. As long as these teams haven’t been drawn into crazy wage structures in the Premier League then they are often in a good financial position. This provides a sound base for a good manager with a good system to go in and potentially do a good job.
The Burnley Blueprint
Burnley with Sean Dyche are a great example of what can be achieved. There have been numerous Premier League clubs that have gone in the opposite direction in the time that Burnley have been in the Premier League that haven’t been promoted back. Burnley look good to stay up this season again and the sports betting odds have Burnley as big as 4/1 to be relegated this season.
Another key factor is in the owners themselves. If owners of Premier League clubs are not re-investing money back into the club then any club will stagnate.
Milking all the money and not investing in the team sufficiently enough is a proven recipe for disaster in the Premier League. There is only so much “wheeling and dealing” that a manager can do and money talks. Sure we can quote Leicester City winning the league but there will always be exceptions to all rules. I think that the Championship has improved dramatically in terms of quality over the past 20 years.
However, that has surely been largely to do with the vast influx of money that has filtered down from the Premier League. Numerous Championship clubs have recently been in the top division and are in a much improved financial position because of it. Getting relegated from the Premier League is something that no team wants but it is not the end of the world.
The FA Cup
If we take a sideways look for a minute at the FA Cup then that can indicate an awful lot about the difference in the two divisions. Second tier teams are not performing better in the two domestic cup competitions than they have done in years gone by. In fact, despite the big six teams devaluing the competition somewhat with their team selections, they are still contesting and winning the two domestic cups just like they always did. Arsenal have won three of the last four FA Cups while Manchester United won the League Cup last season.
So in reality the gap between the top two divisions has always been there and the two domestic cup competitions seems to prove that. What has happened though is that the gap between the top two divisions and the rest of the Football League pyramid has gotten much wider.
Carl Sampson is a full time poker player, coach and all round football nut. He supports Sheffield United and loves most sports.