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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Ideal Championship: Part II

Our quest to find the perfect second-tier of English football continues.

Having decided upon the 20 biggest clubs who would make-up the Premier League, we now had to look at who would make-up our

Our lives were made slightly easier by virtue that all of the clubs who we considered as possibilites for the Premier League immediately made it into the top-44.

Already then we had the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Bristol City, Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Stoke City in our division.

Then we agreed upon a list of sides who hadn't been considered for the top-20, but who we definitely believed were part of the biggest-44 clubs in the country.

These included: Barnsley, Birmingham City, Burnley, Coventry City, Hull City, Preston North End, QPR, Reading, and Watford.

That left four places remaining in our Ideal Championship, and we drew up another shortlist to help us decide.

The potential clubs were: Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol Rovers, Cardiff City, Grimsby Town, Huddersfield Town, Millwall, Milton Keynes Dons, Notts County, Plymouth Argyle, and Swansea City.

Looking at the potential of the likes of Cardiff City and Plymouth Argyle, with the size of catchment area and fanbase, both these two were believed to be amongst the biggest.

Potential also had to considered with MK Dons. Despite their relatively short history, the Dons have already established themselves as a third tier club, and have the ability to comfortably consolidate in the Championship.

However, until they do perform at that level, the lads chose not to include them, but conceded that in ten years time, a similar debate probably would include the club without any doubt.

Also ruled out were Millwall, who face too much competition in London, and Bristol Rovers and Notts County. Although both clubs are also in big cities, they are overshadowed by larger neighbours, and therefore, only make the third tier.

Grimsby's record of over 50 years in the second tier provided a compelling argument, but the lads believed this was largely through over-performing and punching above their weight. They also missed the cut.

That left Brighton, Huddersfield, and Swansea.

The latter were clearly the second biggest club in Wales, and have a brand new stadium and Championship facilities. However, rugby is the national sport of Wales, so did that count against City?

Huddersfield had rich history and won many honours in the post-war era, but have fallen on much harder times since. Their facilities are top quality, but Huddersfield is also a big rugby league town, did that detract from their football status?

Brighton have long been held back by their lack of a proper home, but the potential size of fanbase and crowds was not in doubt. And with their long-awaited home at Falmer now being built, little can hold them back, Brighton & Hove Albion were therefore included.

Finally, having considered the years spent in the higher ties between Swansea and Huddersfield, and considering the league and cup successes the West Yorkshire club had secured, we determined Huddersfield Town were the final team in our Ideal Championship.

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