There is an argument that whilst the Premier League is the table to dine at, with all the riches that are gained from it, the Championship is, pound for pound, a better, more exciting and competitive Division, made up almost exclusively of teams that have, at one time or another, inhabited the Premier League and been a force there.
Here, we look at five teams currently outside the Premier League but, we feel, deserve to be back there and would actually add to English footballs top flight, for one reason or another.
Love them or hate them, and lets be honest, most football fans outside of Leeds do, there can be no doubt that the Premier League is richer for having Leeds in it. One of the most famous English football teams around, with a rich history, hostile home ground and a set of fans that could bring atmosphere to even the most dormant of stadiums, Leeds United are Premier League in every sense of the phrase – apart from the fact they haven’t been part of it now for now fast approaching 14 seasons. Most fans would rather see them fall further down the football spectrum than rise up it – but personal feelings aside, the Premier League would rather see Leeds in it than not.
It just seems wrong to see Aston Villa not in the Premier League – and indeed, see them floundering in mid-table at the end of last seasons Championship campaign. Things are going better for Villa this time around, although promotion is by no means assured – but Villa have been a Premier League club every season since its inception in 1992 bar the last two and have the name, history and ground to still enrich the Premier League….if not, currently, the team!
A touch of bias here its true, but nonetheless, few can doubt the passion and loyalty of Rams fans home or away, have a Premier League class ground at Pride Park, and the history that makes them worthy of a deserved Premier League spot – even if part of that history is a chance to avenge the embarrassment of the 2007/08 season where they tallied just 11 points, rendering them the worst team in Premier League history. However, its as important to remember that before that, the Rams had played a huge part of the Premier League and given some of the most memorable performances…including THAT 3-2 victory at Manchester United. They have one of the biggest average gates outside of the Premier League, despite some horrific seasons and desperate luck.
For all that can be said of Derby, the same can be said of Sunderland, who again number some of the most vociferous fans and ones that turn out in some number, making the Stadium of Light one of the most atmospheric grounds that remain outside of the Premier League. Although the Black Cats seem destined to move further from the Premier League, with relegation a distinct possibility from the Championship, few football fans would omit Sunderland from their list of top 20 Premier League clubs, and we feel they are also deserving of a nomination here.
Its been a long absence from footballs top flight for Sheffield Wednesday – but they were Premier League regulars for the initial decade and were not far away from glory, finishing 7th in the first two seasons and went deep in the cup competitions for seasons to come. Hillsborough though remains one of England’s finest original stadiums and though its now 17 seasons and counting, we still think of Wednesday as Premier League club and name – and are sure many football fans agree also.
Honourable Mentions : Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City, Middlesbrough, QPR