The prize at stake for the 24 teams competing in the Championship in England could not be greater. Three clubs at the end of the season get promoted to the Premier League, one of the richest leagues in football.
Over the last few years, the Championship has proved to be the most competitive league in the world. Teams at the lower end of the standings often pick up victories against teams at the top end of the table, while there is commonly very little separating the top 12 teams.
One of the reasons for the league becoming so competitive is that the standard has improved considerably over the last decade. There was a time where the teams relegated from the Premier League were heavy favourites to return the following season due to their financial firepower, but that is not the case now.
Many of the players in the Championship are good enough to compete in the Premier League. A fine example of that is Patrick Bamford. The Leeds United striker has scored a moderate amount of goals in the Championship over the last three years. He was promoted into the Premier League with Leeds last season and he has proved he is good enough for the top tier, scoring nine goals in his opening 13 games.
Given the reward for doing well in the Championship, clubs are prepared to take a risk in the transfer window in order to give them a chance of success. This certainly proved to be the case when Wolverhampton Wanderers paid £15.8 million for Ruben Neves in 2017. He was voted the Championship Player of the Season the year after and helped his side to the Premier League.
This Season’s Championship Continues To Be Competitive
At the time of writing, eight teams in the Championship betting have low odds to be promoted this season. Norwich City are the shortest price at -225, but even 11th placed Blackburn Rovers are as low as +700 in that market. This suggests the division should continue to be competitive in the race towards promotion in May.
The one team which has bucked the trend is Norwich as they have won their last five fixtures, an excellent run which has seen them climb to the top of the table. They were beaten 3-1 by Luton Town earlier this month, so it is hard to see the Canaries running away with the title.
From third-placed Swansea down to 13th placed Barnsley, there are just eight points separating 11 teams. With a busy schedule coming up in January, the table can have a much different look to it as a run of positive results can help a team quickly move up the standings.
Just like the top end of the table, the relegation battle in the Championship also looks to be competitive this season. Rotherham currently sit above the drop zone on goal difference alone. The likes of Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe Wanders will be hoping their form turns around early into 2021 as they occupy the relegation places at the time of writing.
The Championship is definitely a league to keep an eye on in the second half of the season. Matches often produce a flurry of goals and there is sure to be a lot to play for in the final games of the campaign.