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Automatic Promotion - Who Wants A Slice Of The Premier Pie?

The most expensive game of the football season is the Championship play-off final. It's the one game with the greatest prize money in football. And yet, it is a game that some teams desperately want to avoid playing in. For those teams hunting automatic promotion, the play-offs represent a lottery they would prefer not to be involved in. For most of this season two teams have stood out as the most likely to fill the two automatic promotion places on offer. Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion have dominated the Championship league table for nearly six months now. No other team has occupied either of the two automatic promotion places since mid October.

For the majority of the season, very few would have bet against Newcastle and Brighton taking the austomatic promotion place. They are still the favourites to do so. Check any betting site, such as, and you will see that all of the bookies are still reckoning on a Newcastle and Brighton top two finish. However, it is far from straight forward. Recent form suggests that nerves are setting in and form is being affected. Those looking to chance their arm on an outsider may well be in with a chance of cashing in on a surprise finish. So who will finish in the top two places? Will Newcastle and Brighton hold on, or will one of them be pipped by Huddersfield - or even Leeds United?

At this stage of the season it has less to do with who you are playing against than it does with how you are playing. Form matters. Newcastle currently top the table with eight games to go. One point ahead of Brighton, they have lost only one of their last 12 games. However, look at the form tables and they are not even in the top half. Over their last six games they have picked up only 2 wins - ironically away to two of their rivals.


Grassroots Football In Crisis

Football in England has never had it so good. The money being thrown at the sport from TV rights holders and advertisers is beyond the realms of any football club chairman from as little as even 10 years ago. Rather than seeing the bubble burst, which many doomsday merchants predicted, the money flowing into the game continues to rise at an extraordinary rate.
All of this extra money flowing into the game should signal good news for every level of the game throughout the country. However, this does not seem to be the case. Grassroots football is struggling to survive and is facing bigger challenges to it's well-being than it has done in living memory. How can this be the case when the game has never been so well off financially?
The reasons that grassroots football is struggling are, in some ways, numerous and complex. The rise of the Premier League, and the dominance of media attention for clubs at the top of the game, has had negative consequences for local teams not at the pinnacle of the English game - consequences more dire the further down the football pyramid you look - as potential fans of local teams give their love, attention and money to Premier League teams from far away.

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