Friday, October 13, 2006

The Championship beckons

Not for Charlton, I hope. But tomorrow I am off to see Burnley v. Hull City as part of a friends's 60th birthday celebrations. Although I have seen some League 1 and League 2 games in the recent match, and I often see matches at Step 5 of the non-league, it's a while since I've been to a Championship level game, so it will be interesting to assess the standard.

Cocky Reading fans are now claiming that there's no difference between the two levels. Well, I can think of at least two. In the Premiership once you lose possession it's very difficult to get it back. And Premiership defences are of a higher calibre than those in the Championship. Indeed, once you get to League 1 comedy defending is a regular feature of the game.

There are some Charlton fans who claim we would better off in the Championship on the grounds that we would win more games or at least there would be more uncertainity about most of the matches. However, it is never quite clear what sort of Championship side they want us to be. Do they want us to be a yo-yo team? Or do they want us to be a Burnley, never getting promoted, but never in real danger of relegation? Not that exciting in my view. And dropping down into League 1 is always a risk.

Arsene Wenger said recently that there are about sixty teams who think they are really Premiership sides. Queen's Park Rangers come to my mind, although I always think of them as a third division (south) side. Actually, for those of my generation, Norwich City are in the same boat, despite all the callers they get on 606 saying 'The parple of Norfalk demand their rightful place in the top flight.'

Charlton's problem is that they really still lack the support base to sustain a place in the Premiership. The London football market is very competitive with two top class sides available for glory hunters. Even today, S.E.London has plenty of Gooners, while there are also those who support Millwall.

Hence why the 'flight to Kent' option may seem attractive to some. Interesting that the official supporters' club has bestirred itself and is trying to arouse opposition to any such plan, although the board would insist that they are only considering options. Greenwich Council meanwhile have made it clear that although they want the club to stay in the borough, this won't influence policy decisions.

Of course, if we do relegated, the present Valley would be more than adequate. Let's hope the fight back starts at Fulham. Like other fans who live some way from London and have to work, I can't make it on Monday, but Erith's Paul May will be there to report on the game.


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