There are no certainties over whether the Championship season will return or if the campaign will be declared null and void, all previous results scrapped, along with promotion and relegation. That is the worst-case scenario, of course, but it remains a possibility at this stage.
Premier League bosses have put the wheels in motion to follow the example set by the German Bundesliga to restart the competition. That gives hope to clubs across Europe, including those in the second flight of England who are desperate to finish the season, some targeting a money-spinning promotion to the Premier League.
Still all to play for in the second tier
At present, the Championship is 37 games into its 46-game regular season. Leeds United lead the way on 71 points, one better than West Brom in second. There’s a race on for the promotion places with teams finishing from third to sixth entered into an extended season. At the end of the playoffs the winning side will join first and second-place finishers in next season’s Premier League, replaced by the three lowest ranking sides from the tier above.
The focus is on the Premier League at present, and no one involved in English football is making any excuses for that. By the time they shift to the Football League (which includes the Championship and lower division), it will be about crowning champions and sorting the promoted teams. There is another battle raging, however, and it takes place at the opposite end of the charts. The race to avoid relegation is just as fierce as the one to gain promotion and every bit as important to the clubs involved.
When Championship fixtures do return there will still be plenty to play for at the bottom of the division. Teams placed midtable – no chance of making the playoffs and nothing to worry about when it comes to relegation – can coast to a finish. It’s different for those in the bottom eight, however. They must get back to business and must hit the ground running if they want to hold their place in the table and build for next season.
Barnsley need another winning run
The Championship has completed 37 rounds of fixtures and, at the current count, Barnsley can be found as the lowest-ranked team and as the current favourites for relegation. They are joined by Luton Town in 23rd and Charlton Athletic in 22nd. Barnsley have 34 points on the board and that has them seven points behind Hull City and safety. The Tigers are stuck on a winless run, losing each of their last four, but you’ve got to fear the worst for the club rooted to the foot of the pile.
Their season stats so far read eight wins and 10 draws against 19 defeats. They have 34 points on the board and have lost both their last two games, serving as a real body blow for fans who had got their hopes up after seeing their side win three league games on the bounce. That turnaround was painfully short-lived, but if Barnsley can go on another unbeaten run after lockdown, they may just avoid relegation. Nothing has been decided just yet.
Taking one game at a time in their bid to play Championship football next season, Barnsley know Luton Town in 23rd are just one point better off, and that gives them something to aim at. Charlton in 22nd have collected five more points but the London club have lost four of their last five and each of their last three league games. Don’t take your eyes off the relegation battle when it returns as we predict plenty more twists and turns in the road before three clubs are dumped into League One, the third tier of English football, and suffer the resulting financial hit.
Hatters still have hope following good run
Luton Town came up from League One last season and arrived with grand plans of holding their own at the higher level, but they have found things much more difficult than they could have imagined. A lack of spending power in the transfer market last summer and in winter appears to be costing them and they could yo-yo straight back down to League One as soon as next season. And that would be a bitter pill to swallow for all connected to The Hatters.
The club’s fans have reason to dream of a better life, however, as Luton Town seem to be turning things around. Before the lockdown, they suffered just one defeat in their last five games, that period made up of two wins and two draws. Eight points from a possible 15 means Luton rank as one of the form sides from the bottom half. That’s impressive, especially at this late stage of the season, but consistency is key to avoiding the drop and they must pick up where they left off. They are unbeaten in three games – a win and two draws – if they are able to extend that into the summer they will be difficult to write off from staying in the Championship, especially if they can eat into the six points difference between themselves and Hull City in 21st.
Charlton and Hull were the two worst-performing teams before the lockdown. Charlton lost four of five games as well as suffering three defeats on the bounce. Their stats now read 10 wins and 9 draws against 18 defeats. The Tigers have drawn one and lost four of their last five, each of those losses coming in-a-row. It’s crazy to think Hull were recently a respected Premier League side but could be playing League One games next season. Between Charlton in the relegation zone and Stoke in 17th, a single league win is the difference. Birmingham in 16th are on a horrible winless run but look safe as they are eight points clear of Charlton and that should be enough. Wigan in 20th are moving in the right direction too, having won three and drawn two of five.