Terry Pierce - Championship new-comers find their feet with ease

19 January 2011 09:55
Seven of the last nine sides to win promotion from League One to the Championship have avoided the drop in their first season in the second tier. And once again this season, the Championship new-comers are proving that the gap between the second and third tiers of the Football League is almost non-existent.

Norwich City, Leeds United and Millwall are all comfortably perched in the top ten of the Championship, with the former two sat side-by-side in the play-off zone and in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League.

United and City can certainly compete financially with the majority of sides in the division and are punching their weight in the transfer market, while the stars that fired them to promotion from League One - heroes such as Grant Holt and Luciano Becchio - have showed themselves to be more than capable of making an impact at a higher level. And Millwall, who won promotion in the play-off final at Wembley in May, will be more than happy with their first half-season back in the second tier.

Fans of the three clubs would be quick to suggest that they belong towards the upper reaches of the pyramid and that the time spent in League One was just a blip - the exception as opposed to the rule in their history. And they may well be right, but previous to this season, clubs that cannot boast of such grand pasts have enjoyed similar starts to life in the Championship.

Scunthorpe were relegated in their first season in the second tier but, under Nigel Adkins, bounced back to establish themselves in the Championship - although they may find themselves back in the third tier rather soon.

Doncaster have also shown that smaller clubs can become part of the furniture in the Championship, while Blackpool have gone on to even better things, as we all now know. Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Swansea have all escaped League One and appear to be in no danger of returning. And now the Canaries, Leeds and Millwall look set to continue the trend.

A brief look at the top five or six sides in League One reveals some familiar names, with clubs such as Brighton and Southampton having Championship pedigree in the not-so-distant past. And the gap between those clubs and the struggling sides in the second tier has now all but vanished.

The majority of sides in the promotion mix in League One would fully expect to establish themselves at a higher level should they be fortunate enough to secure promotion, while the clubs that slip down from the Championship rarely stand out.

And that can only mean more unpredictable football and the anyone-beats-anyone environment that Football League fans relish.

Source: DSG

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