ONE look at the two clubs already promoted from the Championship and lovers of football in England may well be wondering whether the gap in standards between the top two divisions is widening.
Title-winners Norwich and Watford are returning to the Premier League after fairly comfortable seasons.
And there is a possibility that Bournemouth, the third of the clubs that went down, will still win the play-offs.
They deserve their success. But some will say the system wasn’t meant for keep-it-in-the-family, it was for blowing fresh air through the leagues.
Many of those who did not make it will blame “evil” parachute payments, a sum of about £40million handed over to each club in the first year of relegation, falling to £35m in the second and £15m in the third and last.
But the parachute payments are vital if promoted clubs are to have any chance of staying in the Premier League and, crucially, if they are to make a contribution to it by using the money to buy the players that allow them to have a chance of winning against some of the best teams in the world, and staying in the league.
And if they do try to retain their PL status but fail, they will need the parachute payment.
Without it they will go bankrupt as it is there to cover the Premier League player contracts they have taken on that will still exist if they drop to the Championship.
And without the parachute payment, they will be forced to sell their best players to balance the books and the consequences could be deadly as shown by the number of famous old names now populating the lower divisions — Sunderland, Charlton, Portsmouth and Bolton among them.
The policy at Norwich is that the only big transfer fees they will be involved with are the ones they receive.
As the Canaries were re-embarking on their latest successful promotion campaign, they sold Ben Godfrey to Everton for £25m and Jamal Lewis to Newcastle for £15m. Spending amounted to £10m.
The Canary Way is thrift, not a word you hear much of in football.
Nothing flashy about what majority shareholders Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn-Jones have cooked up.
The question now has to be this . . . will their team and Watford be equipped to stay up?
The 2019-20 season was abject for them. Norwich finished bottom of the Premier League on 21 points, 13 short of their fellow relegated clubs.
The common reaction to such a blighted season is to sack the manager, in Watford’s case two of them. As for Bournemouth, they lost Eddie Howe.
Not Norwich. Their board came to a conclusion that was probably as simple as this — weak team and good manager.
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Daniel Farke stayed and he’ll be at the wheel again next season.
The German and his staff are creative. To be a success, any club has to be.
In their different ways, Norwich and Watford, are examples of smart housekeeping. It wasn’t good enough last time in the Prem. Next season? We shall see.
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