The big five leagues in Europe are currently considered to be the top flights of England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, but with several top class strikers upping stakes from the France’s Ligue 1 to join the Championship, it may be questioned whether England’s second tier is making strides for a place in the prestigious quintet.
Toulouse striker Martin Braithwaite has already linked up with Middlesbrough, and Bordeaux’s Uruguayan international Diego Rolan is on the verge of joining Fulham..
Combined with Brentford’s signing of 20-year-old top prospect Neal Maupay over the weekend, and a trend is beginning to emerge.
France’s top talents outside of the powerhouses of Monaco, PSG, Marseille and Lyon are turning to England’s second tier as a way of gaining a foothold into English football, and perhaps see the Championship as an opportunity to grow their careers with the ultimate goal of Premier League football.
Every club in the Championship is in the division to ultimately achieve promotion to the top flight, and France’s talents are beginning to realise this.
The money on offer in the English top flight is fast becoming mind boggling, and having seen Huddersfield achieve the impossible last season by winning the play-offs, players are starting to believe that anybody in the league has a shot at securing a Premier League spot.
Championship clubs, especially those afforded the luxury of parachute payments, have serious funds to splash, and players are cashing in on this windfall.
The Ligue 1 attendance reached just over 21,000 last year, with bottom club and champions Monaco averaging just 9500 over the course of the season.
This was worsened by only Burton Albion in the Championship, with the average attendance in the division just over 20,100, not too far away from their French counterparts.
Losing Newcastle’s over 50,000 average may bring the scores down next year, but with new boys Sunderland boasting over 41,000, Middlesbrough averaging over 30,000 and Hull just over 20,000, the scores could remain similar.
Relegated clubs Rotherham, Blackburn and Wigan averaged not far from 10,000, and with Sheffield United and Bolton returning from League One with large stadium capacities, we may see England’s second tier beat out France’s premier division.
With interest and expenditure set to rise in the Championship ahead of the new campaign, it would not be a surprise to see the average attendance creep above France’s output, and with a number of French players jumping ship, it may be argued that by the end of next season, the Championship should overtake the French into Europe’s top five.