The English League Championship, commonly referred to as “the Championship”, is the breeding ground of some of the most passionate soccer fans on earth. Teams playing in this league start each year with the hopes that they will qualify to be one of the three teams worthy of joining the Premier League.

The top two teams in the league automatically advance to the Premier League, but the 3rd place thru 6th place clubs have to duke it out at the end of the year in a playoff.

This alone is the payoff of spending a little extra time following this league. They refer to the Championship Final as the £200,000,000 match because promotion to the Premier League provides more TV royalties than a Kardashian-prime-time spinoff.

The result of the Championship Playoff Final is why you will be seeing the harsh orange jerseys of Hull City running around Anfield this year; while Sheffield Wednesday look up in envy with big-owl Eyes from the Championship table.

If your like me and fall into rabbit holes easily, you may find yourself by the end of the season at a bar watching the Championship Playoff Final with 250 screaming NYC Owls cheering on Sheffield Wednesday. Maybe you will fall for the Rams of Derby County or help summon Aston Villa back to their rightful place in the Premier League.

One last thing to keep in mind…

The 2016/2017 Championship season is (in my opinion) a lot like my home town of Stoneham, Massachusetts in 1994. In 1993 no one knew about us. Then our hometown figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan gets smacked up by Tonya Harding and goes on to win the Silver Medal at Lillehammer. In 1994 the entire country sees Stoneham, Massachusetts on their TV.

Huh?

Leicester City is to The Championship, as Nancy Kerrigan is to Stoneham, Massachusetts.

The English League Championship is where the Leicester’s lurk and you should be paying attention to it. Especially if you want to be that guy who can say:

“I have been an Ipswich Town fan since 2016” when they win the Premier League in 2032 or “Huddersfield Town…ever heard of them? Probably not…I love Sean Scannell, he’s sick.” or “Queens Park Rangers? You mean QPR?”

I will keep you abreast of the basic comings and goings of the Championship in a weekly recap and as always during the “Relegation Station” segment of the HotFooty Podcast.

If you choose to dig deeper (which you should) just remember you started here at HotFooty.

Let’s get started, here is what you need to know:

Promoted to Premier League from Championship

1st Place: Burnley  
2nd Place: Middlesbrough
Championship Final Winner: 4th Place Hull City (1-0 win over 6th Place Sheffield Wednesday

Relegated from Premier League to Championship

18th Place: Newcastle 
19th Place: Norwich City 
20th Place: Aston Villa

Promoted From English League 1

1st Place: Wigan Athletic 
2nd Place: Burton Albion
Playoff Winner: Barnsley (3-1 win over Millwall of Green Street Hooligan Fame)

2015/2016 Top Goals Scorers

Players to watch still in Championship:

Ross McCormack - Fulham (21 Goals)*update signed with Aston Villa 8/4/16
Jonathan Kodjia -Bristol City (19)
Tomer Hamed - Brighton and Hove Albion (19)
Nahki Wells - Hudderfield Town (17)
Fernando Forestieri - Sheffield Wednesday (15)

2015/2016 Top Assists

Players to watch still in Championship:

Alan Judge - Brentford (11)
Chris Martin - Derby County (10)
Harry Bunn - Huddersfield Town (9)
Ross McCormack - Fulham (9)*update signed with Aston Villa 8/4/16
Fred Sears - Ipswich Town (9)

Best Keepers (clean sheets)

The Top Three GK in clean sheets all moved up to Premier League 

Dimitrios Konstantopoulos - Middlesbrough (22 Clean Sheets)
Tom Heaton - Burnley (20)
Allan McGregor - Hull City (19)

Keeper to watch:

Keiran Westwood of Sheffield Wednesday: The Irish international had an amazing match in the Championship Final against Hull City. The performance was reminiscent of Tim Howard vs. Belgium…kind of.

He was 7th in the league in clean sheets last year and remained with the club despite rumors of a move to the Premier League with Everton.

Favorites to Win League Outright 

Newcastle 
Norwich City 
Aston Villa 
Derby County

Favorites to be Promoted

Newcastle 
Norwich City 
Aston Villa
Derby County 
Brighton and Hove Albion 
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Favorites to be Relegated 

Burton 
Rotherham 
Barnsley 
Blackburn 
Preston North End

Final 2015/2016 Table

Some interesting story lines to add a little cinnamon to this dish if you are still not convinced…

  • Rafael Benitez who was coaching Ronaldo and Bale a year ago now has to get Newcastle back into the Premier league! If he can’t get it done this poor bastard who led Liverpool to a 2005 Champions League victory could get sacked in the Championship. Newcastle could be Rafa’s “Waterworld.”
  • Aston Villa has remained in the Premier league since its inception in the 1992/93 season. As one of the “founding members” of the Premier League and being the preferred club of Prince William, being anything less than Premier is like throwing a tin of year-old water biscuits on the throne itself.

Who am I rooting for to be promoted…

Derby County and Birmingham City because I love their mascots, Beau and Rammie.

Sheffield Wednesday because they captured my heart in their playoff run last year and the NYC Owls are good people.


#RelegationStation Spelunking England’s lower leagues because that’s where the Leicester’s lurk