Why The Scottish Championship Could Be The Place To Be Next Season


When you look at a nation and their football leagues, then normally you will look at the top league as being the most exciting and the one where most fans pay attention too.

But next season, maybe just maybe the Scottish Championship will give the Scottish Premiership a run for its money.


Well the Championship may just have some of Scotland’s traditionally bigger teams in it. Rangers have already secured the League One title so they will be in there. The financial trouble at Tynecastle almost certainly means that Hearts will suffer relegation this term, its really just a matter of when and not if.

Then you look at the sides in the running in League One that could follow Rangers up and Dunfermline Athletic standout as a good option. Should they win through in the League One/Championship play-offs then they would be a welcome addition to Scotland’s second tier.

In Scotland’s top flight Hibs are not secure yet, especially after their Edinburgh derby defeat to rivals Hearts. The Hibees are now only six points ahead of St Mirren, who currently find themselves in the play-off spots. The Green side of Scotland’s capital have only managed two wins in 2014 and if they can’t find another three points then it could see them follow the ‘Jam Tarts’ out of Scotland’s elite group.

You then have four new sides boasting very good fan bases in Scotland’s Championship (still hate that name).

Rangers have a stadium that can hold slightly more than 50,000. As they have proven in the lower leagues already, they have little problem getting at least 40,000 tickets sold. Add possible games against Edinburgh’s finest and the attendances may just hit 50,000!

At Tynecastle, Hearts have enjoyed the second best average attendance in the Scottish Premiership with 14,201. Only Celtic can say they have bettered Hearts and remember Hearts are bottom of the league and that their stadium has a capacity thats less than that of Hibs and Aberdeen! So you can be guaranteed the Hearts fans won’t desert them anytime soon.

Hibs are fourth in the top league when it comes to average attendances, with 10,663. It should also be noted that Easter Road was getting very similar numbers back in 1998-99 when they were in Division One as they get now in 2014. Also the derby at Easter Road against Hearts is the record crowd for Hibs this term with over 20,000 fans turning up. That is over 5,000 more fans coming through the turnstiles than the two fixtures Hibs have played against Celtic this season. So the games against Rangers and Hearts could be money spinners for the Hibees.

With East End Park Dunfermline have a stadium capable of hosting games that can attract over 11,000. Away fans could bolster the crowds in Fife especially if both capital clubs are in the same league. Local rivals Raith Rovers could also see swelling numbers at East End Park. Rangers will always bring a crowd just look at The Pars 10,000 plus crowd they got in the fixture against the Gers in December. A big jump up from the 2,000 – 3,000 gates they usually get.

Feasibly the Championship could then have three out of Scotland’s top six best supported teams in their league.

Say the Championship were to finish tomorrow and the two sides at the top were to go up and the two at the bottom were to go down, with their spaces occupied by Dunfermline, Hearts, Hibs and Rangers. Out of the six sides that would remain in the league from this campaign, three would have capacities of 8,000 or over! (Raith, Livi and Falkirk)

Both BT and SKY would probably request more TV games from matches in Scotland outside the top flight than ever before as they could get various Rangers fixtures as well as most or all of the Edinburgh derbies. That would mean more money making its way into the lower leagues.

The east coast of Scotland would be buzzing with Hibs, Hearts, Dunfermline, Livingston and Raith Rovers all being in the same tier.

If we saw a Championship with those sides in it then it would be far from academic on who would win the title. With the current boardroom troubles at Ibrox, the momentum Rangers have shown in previous seasons would probably slow down.

Hearts would still have a very young squad but one with a full years experience as a team behind them. If they can get out of administration then the club could sign one or two more experienced heads that could help the youngsters push on.

Hibs could be seen as favourites as they have a bit more of a balanced squad and manager Terry Butcher has experience in getting out of that particular league, should he remain in charge after relegation. It would be interesting to see if Hibs buy at that level or cut costs.

So the Championship may have a great deal of support, more TV exposure than before and an exciting race for promotion. That could see a fair bit of attention leaving the Premiership for the Championship, which would be probably be a first.

That said the elite league in Scotland would still have a Celtic side in Europe. Plus hopefully a bit more of a challenge from the remerging sides like Aberdeen, Dundee Utd and Motherwell.

The top league would also have a great deal of derby matches too; with Hamilton Motherwell, Dundee versus Dundee Utd, Aberdeen and the Dundee sides, Celtic with Partick Thistle and the Highland rivalry between Ross County and Inverness Caley.

So that would allow for plenty of topics from the Premiership too. You’d also imagine good competitive contests for second spot and for a top six finish. Then the intriguing battles to stay away from the relegation and play-off positions.

Now obviously this is all still hypothetical especially as Hibs are only a win or two from survival. But say it does happen, it could mean a great deal more interest for the whole of Scottish Football and more money getting distributed to more teams.

Whatever happens I just hope Scottish football keeps on improving in 2014/15.

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