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August 8, 2008

2008-’09 English Football: League Championship- Attendance Map (with attendances from the 2007-’08 season).

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The League Championship is the second level of English football.  Last season, the league averaged 17,022 per game.  Attendance was down 3.4%,  which can be explained by the promotion to the Premier League, last year, of the two highest drawing clubs from the season before:  Sunderland and Derby County.

This season, there will be an unusually large number of local derbies.  That’s because there will be four clubs from South Yorkshire (with the promotion of Doncaster Rovers,  plus Sheffield United,  Sheffield Wednesday,  and Barnsley);   two clubs from Wales (with the promotion of Swansea City,  plus Cardiff City);   two clubs from the East Midlands (with the promotion of Nottingham Forest,  and the return of Derby County);  and three clubs from the West Midlands (with the return of Birmingham City,  plus Wolverhampton and  Coventry City).   And once again, there will be three London clubs (Charlton Athletic,  Crystal Palace,  and Queens Park Rangers),  along with Watford (which most people consider to be part of London,  although it is just over the border, in Hertfordshire).  

When one factors in the new clubs for this season,  the relegation of two smaller clubs (Colchester United and Scunthorpe United),  and the general trend over the last decade towards higher gates in the Football League, the League Championship will probably have it’s highest drawing season ever.  [It's highest was 2006-07, with an average gate of 18,221.]

Here is a preview of the League Championship (Telegraph UK) {Click here}.

For promotion, the oddsmakers like Birmingham CityQueens Park Rangers,  and Reading   {Click here (statto.com site)}.    But if last season is anything to go by, some clubs in the middle of the oddsmaker’s pack will gain promotion, rather than all the favorites.  It was wide open last season, and going into the final half-dozen matches, fully half the league (actually 13 clubs) had a viable shot at promotion.   In the end,  two of the three clubs who won promotion this May,  Hull City and Stoke City,  were not at all highly rated for advancement.  Hull were 66 to 1 to win the league outright, and Stoke City were 25 to 1.  Eventual League Championship winners West Bromwich Albion were highly rated to win it, though,  at 6 to 1.

What has vaulted QPR into the top three projected clubs is their new ownership and investor {see this}.   Ticket prices have shot up, and some are worried that the new ownership will price the average loyal fan out  {see this, from The Guardian UK, by Benjie Goodheart}.

Here is a nice League Championship preview, from a QPR supporters’ site called Loft For Words  {Click here}.

Staying on the QPR theme, here is a preview of the 08/09 team,  from the great Unprofessional Foul site  {Click here}.   This site is in the process of previewing the whole league,  in their insightul and irreverent way.   [Note: that is QPR's old badge pictured there in the article...the new one can be seen on my map.]

Thanks to the European Football Statistics site  {Click here},  for the attendance figures.  Thanks to the Historical Football Kits site  {Click here}.  Not for images, this time, but for pointing out the plethora-of-derbies angle.

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