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EPL finances make Championship a managerial pressure cooker
Billy McKinlay’s managerial term at Watford F.C. may be one of the oddest in history. Only for eight days did the Scotsman reign at the club, overseeing just two matches, neither of which he lost. When he was sacked, the club sat third place in the English Championship. Perhaps no managerial term better represents the cut-throat world that football managers live in today.
Of course, the fault is hardly in McKinlay’s hands, and he did nothing to get himself sacked; rather, the fiasco was due to poor planning on the part of the club, who booted him out to sign the preferred Slavisa Jokanovic. Watford hasn’t exactly been known to stop and thinks things through so far this season, going through four managers in just three months from August to October. Ironically, the first team thrived at the time and still sit in the Playoff zone.
Sadly, Watford are par for the course in the Championship this season. While up in the Premier League no managers was sacked this season until late December, seventeen managerial changes have already been made in the second division, with the majority of Championship clubs having different managers than those whom they started the season under. By comparison, the Premier League seems a cake walk — with only four managers having left their posts so far this season.
Recently, the television broadcasting deals for the 2016/17 Premier League were announced, and BT Sport and Sky Sports will split a bill of £1,712m for three consecutive seasons. In stark contrast, the deal Sky Bet signed with the Football League to broadcast the next three tiers of English football is reportedly worth just £90m-a-season. The financial gap between the Premier League and Championship is exponentially expanding each season, with effects being largely burdened by Championship managers. A league where success is so key and relegation so detrimental — by dropping teams far from the Premier League’s financial windfall — has become a pressure cooker for managers.
Steve Evans of Rotherham United, albeit promoted last season, is currently the longest serving Championship manager with only three seasons under his belt at the club. Only two other Championship managers can brag that their current tenure spans the same number of seasons.
We are well on course to break the record of forty-six sackings in a single season throughout the top four tiers of English football from the 2006/2007 season: thirty-nine times have clubs wielded the hammer already. The Championship, though, is where managers are truly facing the sharp end of that stick.
Homepage photo credit: Jon Candy on Flickr