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Saturday, May 01, 2010

The argument for the Championship

In our first statement, Lakes makes his argument for the Championship being the best division in the Football League.

The Championship: the greatest league on Earth. Or at least the greatest league in Britain - besides the Premier League.

Actually, you know what? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it: the Championship is better than the Premier League. It's the best league in Britain.

There, I said it. Did you feel that? Did you? Eh? Did you feel my words burn your skin, Manchester United supporters?

The Championship is a funny league. Trapped between the cash-starved lower leagues and the affluent Premier League, it's got an odd feel to it.

Minnows mix with the big boys on level playing terms - and on merit. Take fixtures like Newcastle vs. Peterborough for example. The whole league has a very FA Cup feel to it.

And because of the big names mixing with the small names, there's a good turnout, too. More people watch Championship games in a season than Italian Serie A games. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

The football's not bad, either. In a good Championship season you will get a good mix of playing styles, not just the 'hit and hope', or 'kick lumps' style that idiots can sometimes attribute to teams outside of the Premier League.

Take West Brom, a side that has prided itself on getting the ball down on the deck and playing.

A lot of teams in the Championship can't afford the calibre of players West Brom has, but still emulate their style - working hard together to pass the ball around the pitch.

It's also a great breeding ground for fancy-pants football. Whether it be a future Premier League startlet on loan at a Championship club, or an up-and-coming youth from the lower leagues - the Championship is the ultimate proving ground.

Premier League teams are unlikely to take a gamble on a player who has not excelled at this level, and rightly so.

It's not always the most beautiful league in the world. I won't lie, it can get messy. Bad tackles, long balls, and midfield ping-pong matches occur more frequently in the Championship than the Premier League.

But who needs 24/7, relentless sexy football anyway? Not me. Not even slightly.

And there's one more big factor that makes the Championship stand out from all the other leagues: the lack of corporate interference.

In a league not dominated by huge sponsorship deals or weekly TV glamour, not by Blumenthal cuisine or WH Smiths in the stands, there is a realism that truly remembers the roots of football.

Forget the corporate sheen, just give me a pork pie at half time - the way it should be.

You can vote for which you think is the best division in the Football League in the poll on the right hand side.

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