The English Premier League is the most lucrative domestic football league in the world. There has been a 20-team format who play on a home and away basis since the first season in 1992-93. The bottom three teams at the end of the season are relegated to the Championship. The potential drop in revenue is massive and parachute payments are designed to soften the blow. Even so it’s a nightmare scenario if a club loses their Premier League status and the Championship is a tough league.
The second tier in English football has 24 teams so there are 48 fixtures during the regular season. The league consists of former Premier League clubs who are trying to get back in the top division and upwardly mobile clubs who have been promoted from further down the hierarchy. There is a third group of outfits who have found their natural level in the old second division. The respective TV deals highlight the disparity in income and indicate why the Premier League is the Holy Grail.
In February 2018 five of the seven packages for live coverage of the Premier League were sold for a total of £4.46 billion. As part of the agreements Sky will pay £9.22 million for each live match which is in fact a lower figure than in the previous deal. The deal means there will be 200 live matches from 2019 to 2022. That seems like saturation coverage but the hunger for live matches is not abating. The income for each club is why playing in the Premier League is a golden bullet. The numbers also explain why the Championship is competitive and difficult for betting purposes.
In terms of potential and buying power there is little to choose between the best 10 teams in the Championship. There are no banker bets and no easy games. The incentive for promotion is huge and some clubs invest with the sole intention of gaining promotion to the Premier League. Match betting on the Championship is fraught with danger in the early months of the season because promotion through league position or via the playoffs is a feasible target for many clubs. Income from television pales into insignificance alongside the Premier League TV money.
One of the current deals for the Championship is the £600 million pounds Sky will pay to show any midweek match live. There are eight midweek dates and any match can be shown live. From 2019 teams will be able to live stream any match that Sky are not broadcasting live. There will be 96 matches in total which equates to £625,000 per match compared to more than £9 million each Premier League for live coverage. Those figures provide a big clue to why Premier League chairman will never agree to reducing the number of teams from 20 to 18.
At the start of the 2018/19 Championship season Stoke and West Brom were the first and second favourites to win the title. Both clubs are newly relegated and are desperate for an immediate return to the Premier League. There has been a massive recruitment drive at Nottingham Forest which could pay dividends with promotion after a 20 year absence from the Premier League. The TV money alone would mean the investment has been justified as the returns will be huge.