Promotion & Relegation Watch – Championship – Version 2

Note: The plan early in the season is to update these standings about every five weeks or so until much later in the season. We’ll try to highlight the important game that most impact the promotion and relegation zones in these pieces, but also take a look at how teams got to that point in the table.
We are now a little over a quarter into the Championship season, so here’s our next look at the promotion and relegation zones in the Championship. (You can find our first look here). That look was after all the clubs had played five matches, and there has been some dramatic moves at the top of the table since.
In the Championship, the top two teams are automatically promoted to the Premier League, with the third- through sixth-place teams competing for promotion via a playoff. As a reminder, after the 2017-2018 season, Wolverhampton Wanderers (1st), Cardiff City (2nd), and Fulham (playoff winner) earned promotion.
The top of the league table currently looks like this:Championship Promotion 20181010

In our initial list, one of our top two teams wasn’t in the top seven, and the other was in 7th place. Sheffield United was that team in 7th place, and they’ve gone 5-1-1 in the seven matches since. West Brom was 2-1-2 at that point, which means they’ve done slightly better, going 5-2-0 in those seven games. But there hasn’t been a lot of separation within the top 4, and the top two clubs on that initial list – Leeds United and Middlesbrough – are the other two clubs with over 20 points.
If Sheffield United makes it back to the Premier League, it would be their first trip to the Premier League since 2006-2007, a one season stay ending with an 18th place finish. West Brom was relegated after finishing 20th last season, so their stay in the Championship may be a short one. Seven of the other eight teams have all played in the Premier League, with Blackburn winning a Premier League championship in 1995. The eighth club – Brentford – hasn’t played in the top tier since 1947, so that would be a neat story if they were able to qualify for promotion after this season.
On the other end of things, the bottom three teams face relegation to League One. Last year, Barnsley, Burton Albion, and Sunderland were the odd clubs out, and while Barnsley and Sunderland are currently sitting in a playoff spot down in League One, Burton Albion is in 18th place and only one point outside of the relegation zone.
The bottom of the Championship table currently looks like this:Championship Relegation 20181010
Ipswich Town has improved their lot from the first entry in the season, but only by one position. They were 0-2-3 through the first five matches, so they done alright in the weeks since with a 1-4-2 record. That hasn’t been enough to move them out of the relegation zone, however, and it doesn’t look like they will approach their 12th place finish from last season, though there are 34 matches left this season and anything  could happen.
The biggest surprise at this point in the season is probably Preston North End. Last season, they finished the season in 7th place, two points outside of the playoffs for promotion. Allowing the most goals in the league hasn’t helped things, but I expect them to turn that around and get out of the relegation zone.
The three clubs up from League One, usually the first clubs considered as being favorites for relegation again, have actually done well this season. Last year’s League One champion Wigan Athletic sits in the 12th spot in the table. Blackburn, as previously mentioned, are in the top ten and are currently one point outside of the playoffs. And Rotherham United, who won the League One playoff and who have never been to Tier 1, currently sit in 19th place, safely out of the relegation zone for now but not super secure due to a league-worse goal differential (-10).

I’m sure these results will be much different by the end of the season, if not by the next time we take a look at the midway point in a couple of months. The Championship season has been exciting thus far, and it is sure to only get more interesting as we get closer to the end of the season.
Until next time…
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