The Championship used to be the term given to the sides winning England’s top flight at the end of the season.
That all changed in 1992 with the inception of the Premier League, but arguably winning the Championship now is more lucrative than it ever was back then. It might be England’s Second Division, but the prize on offer is huge. It is believed promotion to the Premier League is worth around £170m. To some degree, it can make or break a team’s fortunes for many, many years, with smaller clubs such a Stoke City, Bournemouth and Burnley all achieving promotion and building success on the back of that.
This season, the Championship is wide open, with plenty of teams vying for one of the three promotion slots. Which are most likely to make the leap to the top flight? We pick up the favourites for you here.
Up until five years ago, AFC Bournemouth were a team consigned to the lower reaches of the Football League. One promotion was all it took to get them into the big time, and despite relegation last season, they look likely to be on their way back. One of the most respected bookmakers featuring on Tuxslots are Ladbrokes, who have a long and respected history within the game, and they believe Jason Tindall’s side on are their way back. They have become synonymous with the football betting scene and their odds are often cited by pundits and the like – they believe AFC Bournemouth are joint-favourites for the title with another relegated side, Norwich City.
Norwich differ to Bournemouth as they have plenty of top-flight football behind them, with no fewer than five stints in the Premier League. They were relegated last season, winning just five matches, but have kept the bulk of their squad together. The jewel in their crown is striker Teemu Pukki, who had already bagged four goals heading into the international break. The fact they kept much of their relegated team together suggests they should be right at the top of the pecking order when it comes to regaining a Premier League place.
There are striking similarities between Watford and Norwich – they both play in yellow; they were both relegated last season and they are both fancied for promotion. The Hornets have been something of a basket case in recent times, with no fewer than seven managers in the last five years, but fans will be hoping Vladimir Ivic is here to stay after a solid start to the current season. They kept much of their team together too, with Troy Deeney, Etienne Capoue and Nathaniel Chalobah likely to be key figures in any promotion push.
Unlike the others, Brentford have never appeared in the Premier League, with their only stint in the top flight coming before World War II. However, they have a solid football ethos which has seen them finish outside the top 10 in the Championship just once in the last six seasons. In 2019/20, they agonisingly finished third, losing in the play-off final to Fulham. Head coach Thomas Frank plays an attractive style that is ingrained in the club from top to bottom, and the move to a new ground has fired hope of progression off the field, as well as on it. Losing Ollie Watkins in the summer was a big blow, but Finnish striker Marcus Forss has looked in good form after a successful loan spell with AFC Wimbledon last season.
Heading into December, just two wins separated Millwall in ninth and Norwich City at the top of the table, proving how close the hunt will be for promotion. Any one of maybe 15 teams will still believe promotion is possible, with clubs such as Stoke City hoping their absence from the top flight can be ended this season. Middlesbrough and Swansea City are two others with top-flight credentials currently in exile, whilst Bristol City and Preston will both be hoping for their first taste of Premier League football as this season eventually comes to its close.