The English Premier League receives the worldwide attention of the media and fans alike. The culmination at the Etihad Stadium in injury time last season was the epitome of why football is the most popular sport on the planet. Sky Sports has partnered with the Premier League to pioneer a new way of watching football. Yet somewhat in the shadow of all of this, the second tier of English football has grown in strength, unpredictability and excitement to become arguably one of the most popular and competitive leagues in Europe.
Currently due to be rebranded with the other two divisions in the Football League, after it was announced this week that Npower will not be renewing their partnership deal, the strength of the competition over the last few seasons will surely entice a number of offers from companies to be associated with the Football League. Not so according to a report on the Daily Mail’s website on Tuesday 2nd October.
Seen in the past almost as the poor relation of the Premier League, always trying to compete but never on the same level, the Championship has much to offer supporters, owners and sponsors and is a force to be reckoned with in football circles.
A quick look at the league table highlights that 18 of the 24 teams currently competing at the second level have played in the Premier League for at least one season. This experience breeds a desire and competitiveness throughout a club, from the players to the fans and those in charge, to return to the upper echelons, which in turn makes for enthralling football.
Further evidence of the strength of the league can be found by looking at the Premier League. Teams such as Fulham, Wigan, West Brom and Swansea have been promoted and bridged the so-called gap by competing at the top level and getting results. This gap appears to be shrinking as Premier League teams that are relegated come down and find it anything but easy to return immediately. Famous examples of Leeds, Portsmouth and Sheffield Wednesday to name a few have even experienced further relegation down to League One.
There is also the argument that the supporters of the Championship clubs are more attached to their team than their big money relations in the next tier up. Of course, this is open to questioning but the point is that at a time when constant media coverage questions the vast sums of money moving around the very top teams, this sense of emotional connection to a team is a welcome relief.
All of this needs to be remembered when the Football League officially puts the sponsorship rights up for tender. Here they have a competition that can compete with the best; those special games when a Championship club defeats a Premier League club in a cup competition are becoming more frequent. Now is the time to promote this.
The Premier League will always receive the majority of the attention, which is understandable. But the Championship, although maybe not always as glamorous, can certainly offer many of the same experiences, and because it has not gone through the same PR driven public image makeover as the Premier League, also a few new ones as well.
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