7 February 2024
By Roger Kennedy
It’s rarely dull in the Championship and with a handful of former Premier League clubs pushing for a return to the top flight, there’s plenty of interest in the English second tier.
Leicester City have been the ones to catch for most of the season but, with the likes of Southampton, Leeds United and Ipswich Town in pursuit, the battle for promotion back to the big time is hotting up in England.
Foxes Eyeing Swift Return
Having won the Premier League title in the 2015/16 season, Leicester have fallen some way to being a side battling for promotion from the Championship this term. However, it is a battle the East Midlands outfit are winning, as they are 1/9 in the football betting odds to win the title this season. Southampton and Leeds were the other sides to suffer the heartbreak of relegation from the Premier League last term and they are 4/7 and 4/9 respectively in the Championship promotion odds to get back to the top flight for next season. Leicester proved to be a tough nut to crack in the first half of the campaign, with just four defeats in their opening 30 league games of the campaign.
Much of the credit for Leicester’s start to the season must go to manager Enzo Maresca, who has done a sterling job at the King Power Stadium after leaving Manchester City last year. Working as an assistant coach under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, Maresca has taken this opportunity to be the main man in the dugout with both hands. Steadying in the ship after the chaos that relegation can cause a club, Leicester are on course to get back to where they belong in the top flight.
Trio Battling To Join The Foxes
Of course, only three sides will be promoted this season and if Leicester do go on to claim the title, it means at least one of Southampton, Leeds or Ipswich will be left disappointed. Ipswich hit the ground running in the Championship this year and kept up the pace with the Foxes in the first half of the campaign. However, results at the turn of the year were not so kind and Ipswich are battling to rediscover that early-season form. The dropped points from the East Anglia outfit have opened the door for the likes of Southampton and Leeds to get back in the race for automatic promotion.
Southampton were happy to go under the radar somewhat but their impressive form over the winter under manager Russell Martin has put them right back in the picture for automatic promotion. Likewise Leeds United, under boss Daniel Farke, had a stuttering start to the campaign but found their rhythm at the start of the year. Both Saints and the Whites have strong squads and that could prove telling at the business end of the season.
It really is an intriguing battle in England’s second tier for promotion this season but only three clubs will enjoy the sweet taste of promotion success come the spring.