The Championship, English football's second tier, is set to return this weekend. We are providing you with a rundown of the state of play, schedule, players and more...
Fulham Craven Cottage EFL Championship

EFL Championship: When does it return? Top Players? Thrilling title race?

English football’s second tier will return this weekend. We are providing you with a rundown of the state of play, schedule, players and more…

When is The Championship returning?

The Championship, or The Sky Bet Championship, will return on June 20th. Three early kick-offs kick-start the action on Saturday. There’s a London derby between promotion chasers Fulham and Brentford at Craven Cottage, Middlesbrough take on Swansea at The Riverside and Millwall take on Derby at The Den. Eight games follow at three o’clock then the action is concluded on Sunday as league leaders Leeds travel to play-off hopefuls Cardiff.

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How are games being scheduled in the league?

In total, there are 108 matches of the normal season remaining plus the play-off semi-finals and final. There will be five rounds of weekend matches. Most of these games will kick-off at 3pm on a Saturday, with some games taking place on Friday evenings, Saturday Lunchtimes and Sundays’. There are three rounds of midweek games. The scheduling for the final round of matches will be finalised nearer the time but they will play games on 21st and 22nd July.

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Are Championship clubs playing at their own grounds?

Yes, all teams will play at their own grounds although games will be played behind closed doors. However, a study which analysed all 191 competitive matches behind closed doors across Europe since the Second World War, showed that home teams won just 36 percent of matches compared with 46 percent in front of their supporters. Away teams won 26% matches with fans but this rose to 34% behind closed doors. The difference was still the case when the difficulty of teams was factored in.

The study also showed that home teams score fewer goals in games behind closed doors and penalties are more likely to be missed by the home team and scored by the away team when the stadium is empty. In the Championship this season home teams have won 43% of games.

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What time will kick off be in The Championship?

Weekend kick off times are currently 12.30pm, 1pm and 3pm on a Saturday and 12pm, 2.15pm and 3pm on a Sunday. Midweek kick off times are currently at 3pm, 5pm, 6pm, 6.30pm, 7.45pm, 8pm and 8.15pm. Some Championship games have already been rescheduled because of travel and footballing reasons. The times for the last round of matches and the playoffs are still to be finalised.

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What is the state of play in The Championship?

37 rounds of matches have been played so far this season before the enforced break. There is still lots of excitement and anticipation for the remaining 108 games plus the playoffs.

Leeds United are the current league leaders on 71 points and won their last 5 games before the break. West Brom are just one point behind and will hope to go top on Saturday before Leeds return to action on Sunday. Fulham are 6 points off the automatic promotion places so will hope that either Leeds or West Brom slip up.

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Brentford and Nottingham Forest will look to secure a play off place. The last play off place is there for the taking. Preston are currently occupying the 6th place but there are just 6 points between Preston in 6th and QPR in 13th.

Barnsley are bottom of the league and are 7 points from safety but won 3 of their last 5 games before the break. Luton are just one point better off but only lost one of their last 6 games before the break and are unbeaten in 3. Charlton occupy the final relegation spot and only dropped into the relegation zone during the previous round of matches but have only won 1 of their last 5 matches prior to the break. There are just 3 points between Charlton in 22nd and Stoke City in 17th. Hull, who are just 2 points and one place above the relegation zone, have won none of their last 12 games and in their last game they lost 5-1 at Stoke. Wigan, who are on the same number of points as Hull are on the up having not lost any of their last 6 games.

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What have been the talking points in The Championship this season?

  • East Street Investments bought Charlton Athletic. However, the new executive chairman, Matt Southall fell out with the co-owner of ESI and was removed from the board. Despite this, Southall remained a minority shareholder of ESI. Southall is now claiming a seven-figure fee for services during his time at the club. Businessman Paul Elliott completed the buy-out of ESI on 9th June and became the new chairman.
  • Derby County sacked club captain Richard Keogh. Keogh had been out with Lawrence and other Derby players, including Mason Bennett, after a team bonding day. Lawrence’s car went into the back of Bennett’s, before going across a roundabout and hitting a lamppost. Keogh was unconscious at the scene and Lawrence and Bennett fled. They returned 45 minutes later, when they were arrested. The men admitted drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
  • The EFL charged Birmingham in relation to an alleged breach of an agreed business plan. Blues were originally cleared on 6 March and they appointed a new commission to hear the EFL’s appeal. The EFL has now won its appeal against an independent disciplinary commission’s decision to clear Birmingham City of a misconduct charge.

Who are the top players in The Championship this season?

  • Matty Cash (Nottingham Forest) Cash leads the way in the number of tackles made and in January he was a target for Premier League and Serie A clubs.
  • Eberechi Eze (QPR) Eze has scored 12 goals and has 8 assists from midfield this season. His ability to dribble and drive forward has been a major contributing factor in the number of goals they have involved him in this season. He draws a lot of fouls because of his speed and his ability to keep hold of the ball.
  • Alexander Mitrovic (Fulham) Mitrovic has led the line for Fulham superbly this season and is the league’s top scorer with 23 goals.
  • Ollie Watkins (Brentford) Watkins has been one of the big reasons Brentford have had such a successful season. He has scored 22 goals this season.
  • Jarrod Bowen (Hull) Bowen might have only been in the Championship for half of the season but he still got 16 goals and 7 assists from the wing.

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Can I bet on Championship matches behind closed doors?

Yes. At Mark Jarvis, we have over 75 different markets for each match in the English Championship. For EFL markets, click here.

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Matthew is a sports undergraduate with previous experience writing sports betting content. Matthew is a fan of football, tennis, cricket and cycling.

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