Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Is the Championship heading for Premier League 2 status?

The summer transfer window still has some way to go but it is already apparent that there is suddenly a trend for Championship teams to bring in players from foreign clubs. That does not mean that they are all spending big though. Derby were quick to pick up Athletico Madrid star Ivan Calero on a free. Nottingham Forest have paid £1m for Michael Mancienne of Hamburg and have signed Roger Riera from Barcelona on a free. Charlton have gone for Standard Liege's George Tucudean and Tal Ben Haim on free transfers. Meanwhile, Leeds have signed Tommasso Bianchi of Sassuolu and Souletmane Doukara of Catania. Fulham have brought in Kay Voser of FC Basel and Tim Hoogland of Schalke. We might have expected Watford to look towards Italy, but this time they looked at Parma and Daniel Tozer. Middlesbrough have even bought Tomas Meijas of Real Madrid. The BBC has a good list of July's transfers.

So what is going on? Are the prices for players in Europe suddenly much more affordable for Championship sides? Are the foreign players much better than those in the lower English leagues? I believe that there are many reasons and some of them may not be for the better for English football. The amount of foreign club owners and managers may well be a stimulant in the pull to look abroad while the cost of players in League One has been demonstrated by AFCB's signing of Callum Wilson from Coventry. Among other clubs to pick up League One players we can see that Rotherham signed Febien Brandy of Sheffield Utd in June and Ryan Hall of MK Dons, plus Mat Sadler from Crawley, while Brentford signed Moses Odubago of Leyton Orient Andy Gray of League Two Luton and Byron Webster came to Millwall from Yeovil on a free and Lee Gregory from FC Halifax. Stephen Gleeson of MK Dons also signed for Birmingham along with Johnathan Grounds who was at Oldham - both were frees.

There are fewer big money moves though from the lower leagues to the Championship and League One and Two will be all the more poorer for it in the end. If Championship clubs continue to go abroad for new players that will cut the amount of money going down through our leagues and while transfers between League One and Two remain high they are not of the value of the Championship signings.

We do see Championship sides willing to loan out players to the lower leagues and this may well be the main way that the transfer market works in future years. For teams like AFCB, the signings from Premier League teams have been possible because they have been on free transfers and this goes for a lot of the signings we have seen coming from the Premier League to Championship clubs. The most telling signing from a Championship club to another Championship side has to be Fulham's capture of Leed's Ross McCormack for an estimated £11m. 

Whether you think that foreign signings are bargains or gambles it appears that the Championship will be full of them. I can see this league becoming Premier League 2 which will be yet more bad news for the FA and the hopes of English fans that want to see their national side do well. If there is some good to come of the foreign player attraction it is that the quality of the league is likely to rise and with that the FA has a much more marketable product than it had only a few years ago as seen by SKYBet's sponsorship of the Championship.

Just as a final word, I had some communication with Liz Finney, the general manger at AFCB, and she informed me that the reason for so many mid-week kick offs this season in the Championship was mainly down to two things. Firstly, the clubs had all voted to start the season one week later and also there will be three international breaks in the 2014/15 Championship season.

You can also vote in our poll for where you think AFCB will finish next season - scroll down the right side panel to vote and see the results so far..


  1. Nottingham Forest have paid £1m for Michael Mancienne of Hamburg and have signed Roger Riera from Barcelona on a free.
    Michael Mancienne is a ENGLISH player and Roger Riera is an academy player not expect to go into Forest First team squad for some time

    1. Yep - that's a school boy error in failing to check the facts...

      Plus Forest have signed Danny Fox (Southampton), David Vaughan (Sunderland), Matty Fryatt (Hull), Louis Laing (Sunderland) and possibly Jack Hunt (Palace) so the bulk of the transfer activity has involved UK clubs.

      They did miss Lars Veldwijk though....

  2. If I listed all the transfers for every club I would need several pages. It's a snap shot of foreign signings.