Entertaining value may be waning in second tier

          A steady Championship decline?

          2021/11/24 13:10
          Alex Lawes

          The Championship has built up a legitimately worldwide reputation for its thrills and excitement. A 24-team league well-known for being hyper competitive and whereby the term ‘anybody can beat anybody’ still exists in a footballing landscape whereby the best are getting better and the worst weaker.

          Last night, though, there were five games in the Championship. Four at 19:45 and one at 20:00. Three of the four at quarter to eight finished goalless with the later kick-off boasting just a solitary goal. 

          This wasn’t a one-off. The Championship’s entertainment value and high-scoring nature has significantly dipped recently.

          Facts & Figures

          Last season, there was an average of just 2.31 goals per game across the Championship season. Ten years prior to that, the average goals per game was at 2.74.

          There has been a steady decline in the number of goals throughout the last decade and 2.31 is the lowest scoring season in the history of the league since it became ‘The Championship’ in 2004. 

          It has never got over three goals per game on average, but it is very rare that the average amount of goals falls below 2.5, as it has done. 2.31 was a fall from 2.64 the season before in 2019-20.

          COVID’s influence

          ©Catarina Morais / Kapta +

          COVID-19 has had an influence on everybody’s life and has probably had an irreparable effect on a number of things. One thing it definitely changed was the football.

          Behind closed doors football was even more sterile than the middle-class pomposity, in a lot of grounds, that it was succeeding. 

          The lack of atmosphere could often lead to a lack of energy and intent on the pitch so the attacking play was minimised, thus leading to lower scoring matches. 

          The goals have gone up slightly this season with crowds back in, as it has gone to 2.53 but it remains a tough watch at times.

          In fact, of the 547 goals scored in England’s second-tier so far this season, 81 have been scored by the top two which is a disproportionate level for a competitive and entertaining league. 


          Other than just the goals, the Championship was credited with its famed unpredictability whereby 24th could often beat top-of-the-table. 

          Unfortunately, that isn’t really the case anymore. As with two of the three relegated sides going straight back up last season, the other one, AFC Bournemouth, are now in a position where they could cruise to automatic promotion.

          ©Getty / Jacques Feeney

          They are sandwiched by two of the three relegated sides from last season, Fulham and West Brom. Even the gap between the Championship and League One is being stretched to create an extremely long and bloated mid-table.

          For example, if it wasn’t for Derby County’s two heavy points deductions, two of the bottom three would be the automatically promoted sides from League One last season; Hull and Peterborough.

          The finances of the Premier League filtering down into the Championship are skewing the levels at both ends of the table and the signs are that what was once a mesmeric, exciting and unusual division has become quite formulaic and dull.

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