Why the gap between Premiership and Championship is non-existent.

Whenever Rangers brilliant performances this season are reported, it’s usually met with replies calling the championship a “diddy” or “pub league.”

You would expect these sort of jibes to come from down south but strangely most of them come from teams playing in the Scottish Premiership.

Over the past 3 years, fans of Aberdeen, Dundee Utd and Celtic etc. have all vociferously defended Scottish football, amid Armageddon talk along with falling revenue and attendances.

So why is it acceptable to defend the Premiership but disregard the division below and all teams who compete there? I think we know the answer.

The arrogance and hypocrisy of these people is utterly bemusing, but what makes it all the more strange is the obvious proof that the gap between the two leagues is almost non- existent. Here’s why.

First of all, it’s important to look at the teams who’ve been promoted  in recent years.  

Despite hitting a blip recently, newly promoted Hearts won their opening 4 matches and look well equipped for a top half finish this campaign.

The season previous, Paul Hartley’s Dundee finished an impressive 8th – ahead of the likes of Motherwell and Kilmarnock.

Partick Thistle’s safety in 2013/14 was pretty much secured with the demise of Hearts, but they still avoided the play-offs ahead of Hibs and were only 2 points off 7th place.

A team many tipped to go straight back down in Ross County dealt with the apparent “jump in quality” no problem at all – finishing 5th in season 2012/13, only 2 points off Europe.

Let’s not forget Hamilton Accies, who actually came 2nd in the Championship, before going on an amazing run, topping the Premiership table  2 months into the season, eventually leading to Alex Neil’s departure.

So there you go – the last 4 years of promoted teams have had no problem settling in to the top division whatsoever.

You can see that teams who come down also find it difficult to adapt. Hearts of course had no such problem but look at St Mirren this season and Dunfermline previously. Hibs would have also been surprised by the league standard.

Nicky Law celebrates his second goal of the afternoon
Nicky Law celebrates his second goal of the afternoon

The next time you here the Championship referred to as a diddy league, remember to ask why its 5th placed team (Falkirk) managed to reach the Scottish Cup final ahead of 11 other Premiership teams.

The arguments against will swiftly point to Rangers defeat to Motherwell last season. Yes we were outplayed and Yes we were thoroughly beaten but let’s not forget the other results against Premiership opposition that term. A Rangers team regarded as one of the worst ever managed to beat Kilmarnock 3-0, Scottish Cup Winners Inverness 1-0 and mid table St Johnstone by the same score line.

We weren’t the only team who knock out opposition from the league above. Queen of the South comfortably beat St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup with Hibs also  knocking out Ross County.

Another consideration to factor in the quality of football on show.

Falkirk, Hibs, Queen of The South, and now Rangers all like to play an attractive passing brand of playl. Of course you’ll get the teams who are happy to do whatever it takes to get points on the board but the Premiership also has the classic “hammer throwers.”

Will anyone tuning into a Championship match really notice a difference in quality from a game in the Premiership? Falkirk v Hibs against Ross County v Hamilton for example?

Falkirk v Rangers full house
Falkirk v Rangers full house

What’s become even more noticeable in the Championship with Rangers and Hibernian there is the rise in attendances. You’ll hear the usual digs making fun of the fact we’re playing Alloa at the weekend? Really, well you’re playing Hamilton. Not much difference.

The average attendance of the Premiership last season was only 1’000 more than the Championship. Only 6 out of 12 Prem teams saw increased attendance figures compared to 8/10 in the Champ. Falkirk, for example had a higher attendance than EIGHT top flight clubs. THREE of the top FIVE average attendances in Scotland came from our “Diddy league.”

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