It was the end of the regular football season in the Championship yesterday, and it was a relief to watch my team Birmingham clinch promotion back to the Premier League after suffering relegation last year. In the last 4 seasons we've been relegated twice from the Premier League and promoted twice from the Championship. We must surely be the ultimate yo-yo club!
Blues are one of those clubs that at the moment seem to be suffering some form of identity crisis, West Brom are another in the sense that we don't really belong in any league; too good for the Championship, not quite good enough for the Premier League. But the question for clubs like Birmingham is; What do they want to be? Win lots of games in the Championship and go up, or play in the Premier league and battle relegation season after season.
I remember last season following relegation, one Blues fan mentioned on a local radio phone that he didn't care about being in the Premier League, at least in the Championship, Blues could look forward to a good promotion campaign playing entertaining football and winning matches on a weekly basis. Well we managed to win games on a regular basis but it certainly wasn't entertaining to watch most of the time!
I have to admit it does feel great to be promoted, even if most of the season has been an unispiring slog, but one of the positives about the Championship is that it's a genuinely competitive league with a more level playing field then the Premier League where anyone can beat anyone.
There were plenty of games this season where I saw Blues play against mid table opposition in which you could hardly tell the difference in standard. I know critics will argue that this shows how poor the division really is, but it certainly makes for an exciting league where 3 clubs still had the opportunity of going up automatically on the last day of the season.
You can't always say that about the Premier League, the top 4 are the usual suspects and this season its the relegation battle that's proving to be really exciting particularly with a club like Newcastle seriously facing relegation.
I suppose that now my team are out of the Championship I can talk about what 'fun' it is being in the Championship, but if the financial implications of dropping out of the Premier League weren't so great, surely their would be teams in the Premier League who occasionaly wouldn't mind swapping lower mid table mediocrity for the odd relegation followed by a successful promotion push!
Middlesbrough's crowds have actually gone up this season as they find themselves in a serious relegation battle, clealy this has galvanised the supporters in a way that finishing 14th every year didn't. I suppose it can go the other way though. Charlton fans got fed up with finishing in mid table safety every season and yearned for something more exciting, well 2 relegations in 3 seasons has certainly spiced things up for them!
Instead the Championship has increasingly become a graveyard for former Premier League clubs. Who would have thought a few years ago that Southampton, Norwich, and Charlton would all be relegated to to the Third tier of English football.
Next season I'm hoping that Blues can give it a real go at staying up, and put an end to this yo-yoing, but I'm sure that after 4 or 5 years of finishing 12 or 13 I'll want something more exciting to shout about, like a few end of season relegation 6 pointers or a last day promotion win, away at somewhere like Reading!
Up the Blues!