August 8, 2008

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

Filed under: 2008-09 English Football,Eng-2nd Level/Champ'ship — admin @ 10:29 am


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 ( 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.

April 9, 2008

The 2007-08 League Championship (England, 2nd Level of Football): Zoom Map.

Filed under: Eng-2nd Level/Champ'ship,Zoom Maps — admin @ 9:59 am


Note: to see my latest map-&-post of the English 2nd division, click on the following, category: Eng-2nd Level/Champ’ship.

[Note: on this zoom map, I have added a new category, of total seasons in the 1st and 2nd Levels, with the last season each club was in the top flight noted.  I also added club nicknames, and original names of the clubs.] 

The (English) Football League was formed in 1888.  The founding members comprised 12 clubs, all of which came from north of Birmingham {see this}.   With the assimilation of the rival Football Alliance {see this}, in 1892, a second tier was created.   The two levels were the First Division, and the Second Division, each with 14 clubs.   At the end of each season, the bottom two clubs in the lower division were forced to apply for re-election to the League.  

In 1898, the League expanded to 36 clubs (18 in each division).   Automatic Promotion and Relegation was introduced, whereby the 1st and 2nd place clubs in the Second Division each season moved up to the top flight, and the bottom two clubs in the First Division were sent down to the Second Division  {see this}. 

{Click here for a brief history of the English Football League, from the Football Club History Database.}

Fast forward to today.  The 3 clubs in the 2nd Level of English football,  the League Championship {see this}, which are annually promoted to the top flight of English Football, the Premier League (est. 1992 {see this}),  each receive around 60 million pounds in new revenue (that’s about $110 million).  This is according to the accounting firm Deloitte.  Which makes the struggle for promotion such a huge matter. 

Tuesday, at Blackpool,  West Bromwich Albion provided another example of their high octane offense, with 3 late goals (including a brace by Kevin Phillips).   {See this article, from the Sky Sports site.}   The win vaulted the Baggies back to the top of the League Championship, knocking this season’s surprise team, Bristol City, to 2nd place.

West Brom’s loss to Portsmouth in the FA Cup Semi-Finals last weekend may prove to be a blessing in disguise, as the squad can now focus on their promotion bid.  They lead the league in scoring, with 84 goals (3rd place Stoke City has the second most goals, with 64), and their goal difference of +29 dwarfs the competition (Hull City, in 4th place,  has the next highest, at +18) .  But in this highly competetive second tier, WBA has struggled since the Holidays.  Now they are back in first, with a game in hand on half their main competitors for automatic promotion.

Realistically, it’s down to 5 clubs competing for the 2 automatic promotion spots:  1. West Bromwich Albion,  2. Bristol City,  3. Stoke City,  4. Hull City,  and 5. Watford.  Just 2 points separate the five clubs.  

In 6th place, 8 points off the automatic promotion places, is Crystal Palace, who beat Stoke 1-2 away, on Monday.  And right behind Palace are no less than 7 clubs within 6 points of the playoff places.  The clubs realistically out of the running for automatic promotion, and competing for the playoff places (of which there are four) are:   6. Crystal Palace   7. Wolves   8. Ipswich Town   9. Charlton Athletic   10. Plymouth Argyle   11. Burnley   12. Sheffield United   13. Cardiff City.

Thanks to, for the kits.

{Click here, for the League Championship table (SoccerStats[dot]com).}

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