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Old 02-06-2012, 06:00 AM   #14
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Over the pond...
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Hi Mike

The English League system is set up as follows:

Premier League - Elite division featuring top teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, etc. Play 38 games per season (20 team league, 19 home and away games). Pinnacle of English soccer. Never cheap to go to the games and for most of the big clubs difficult to get tickets, too. Top four teams qualify for the Champions League, Europe's pre-eminent club competition. Next two teams and the domestic FA cup winners qualify for the Europa League (just like the CL but with lower ranked teams). Bottom three teams in Premier League get relegated to the Championship every season.
Championship - the second tier of English football. Home to my team (Ipswich Town) and 23 others. Tickets generally more easily available and the league is sometimes described as the most competetive in the country. For example, my team (who are doing crap and 5 places off the bottom) beat the league leaders West Ham 5-1 last Tuesday. The league has some excellent players and the standard is typically very good. The top two teams get promoted to the PL, as does the winner of a four team knock-out "playoffs" for teams placed 3-6 at the end of the season. Playoff games are typically all-out games where the scoring can be high. Bottom 3 teams get relgated to League One.
League One - third tier of English football. Some teams fallen from grace (both Sheffield clubs and Charlton are ex-PL teams) and typically easy to get tickets. Standard of game is still good with teams like Charlton really showing the way in 2011/12 season. I'd reccomend a trip to the Valley (Charlton's home ground) as it's a decent (but small) ground with a good atmosphere. With the team pushing for promotion you should see a decent game. Top two and playoff winners go into Championship, bottom four clubs in to League Two.
League Two - the fourth tier of English football and the cheapest to watch. Atmosphere typically not fantastic as these clubs can stuggle to get fans through the gate. Typically attendance in this league will be a few thousand only and the grounds can be pretty poor. Top three teams and playoff winners (finishers 4-7 in league) go up to League One, bottom two fall into the non-league Blue Square Premier division (a nightmare scenario for any club). There have been some extraordinary games at the end of the season where clubs threatened with relegation into non-league have pulled some remarkable results to stay up (including Barnet who continually flirt with the drop).

A few words of advice.
1. Don't turn up drunk as you won't get in. After the hooliganism of the 70's and 80's, the police don't take kindly to fans being drunk at a football match.
2. Racist/homophobic chanting will likely see you ejected and arrested. The England team captain is up in court in July charged with racially abusing another player. These are verboten topics on the terraces.
3. The PL and the Championship are all seater grounds. League's One and Two also have clubs with standing terraces. Terraces are the really "authentic" parts of the ground where the real hardcore fans typically site themselves. You get the most noise and the best banter in the terraces typically. Banned from the top two leagues after the Hillsborough tragedy where 96 people were killed in a crush on terracing in the '90's, any club that has been in the top two tiers but are curently in League's One and Two will be all seater (this includes Charlton). For me, I'd love all grounds to have some terracing, but it's "progress" I suppose...
4. Enjoy yourself and get involved with the home fans! The banter is great and you'll have a good time if you stretch your lungs!

If you want any advice on specific games drop me a PM!
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Last edited by Goughie; 02-06-2012 at 06:07 AM.
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