Day in the sun
The Championship is back up and running and while it may seem uncomfortable in the spotlight it is the competition that continues to deliver the drama, writes Adam Bate.
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 05/08/13 2:48pm
It was day three of the second Ashes test at Old Trafford - the midpoint of the English summer. But football was back and the Championship was having its day in the limelight. Chief football writers from the nation's newspapers - at least those not preoccupied with the Emirates Cup shindig - were strolling into lower league grounds for the first and only time until the play-offs in May. This was more coverage than the division was used to but no less than the fourth-best supported league in Europe deserved.
And yet, the Championship does not need the media hype to sustain it. Indeed, there is something slightly incongruous about the idea of television advertisements pushing 'the product'. The very notion of the second-tier of English football as a brand does not sit well. The philosopher George Berkeley once wondered whether a tree in a forest made a sound if there was nobody there to hear it. But with the Championship there can be no doubt - noise or no noise, it exists and the relentless charge through the season has begun.
Supporters of Yeovil Town will likely disagree, but one of the great curiosities of the Championship is that it is a competition so few of the combatants actually wish to be a part of. And it's all the better for it. The Championship is full of clubs desperate to get back to the big time with 10 teams boasting stadia capable of containing in excess of 30,000 supporters. Of the 23 clubs to have been champions of England, there are more in the Football League than the Premier League.
Of course, the very nature of the division, with six teams exiting each season, means that the flux is in stark contrast to the relative status quo of the top flight. While only six teams have occupied the top four slots in the Premier League in the past eight years, there are 23 teams - one quarter of the entire professional league - to have achieved that feat in the Championship during this period. It is a division that harks back to an earlier age of equality - and not just because of that famous old trophy.
The opening weekend proved the point. Not only did 20 of the 24 teams get on the scoresheet but one of the four to fail were Millwall. At home. To those 500/1 outsiders Yeovil. And yet, what do those odds mean in a division where Derby County could boast a top-ten spot last season after 46 games despite finishing just seven points above relegated Peterborough United?
And that's why it is to be cherished. The big beasts of the Premier League will take centre-stage on August 17th and as far as some are concerned the Championship will be back in the shadows. But it will endure regardless. Out of the spotlight, yet reliably delivering the drama.