The EFL Championship is one of the most competitive, physical and forceful leagues in world football where every single game has its own flavour.
Over the years, Championship football has treated us with sensational action and unforgettable moments that is certainly difficult to put into words. We have seen goals, free-kicks, saves, moments of brilliance, moments of madness and calamitous decisions that have changed the course of the game in a blink of an eye. In short, we have seen everything!
Some of the country’s most passionate fans are from the clubs in England’s second-tier, supporters who religiously follow their team, travel to various stadiums and always hope their club secure promotion to the Premier League.
While, quite naturally the players, the managers, the referee, the touchline spats between managers and brawls between two teams in this sport tend to grab the majority of the headlines and steal big chunks of limelight, the venues and the stadiums the fans go to also deserve their much-needed attention. Many stadiums built from the 1800s to-1900s have been renovated and brought forth into the modern era, while others have been demolished and laid into obscurity.
Here’s a look at the top 5 biggest stadiums in the Championship.
5. Bramall Lane
Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United since 1889, is one of the oldest major stadiums in the world.
The stadium, initially opened as a cricket ground before being used for football games in the 19th century by Sheffield F.C. and Sheffield Wednesday, is built on a Sheffield road after the Bramall family. However, since 1889, Bramall Lane has been the home of Sheffield United.
The stadium has a capacity of 32,050, and due to the nature of its structure and size, the fans are close to the action and the atmosphere is always intense. Sheffield United, nicknamed The Blades, dropped down to the Championship in May but would be eager to achieve promotion at the first time of asking.
4. Coventry Building Society Arena
Coventry Building Society Arena, known as Ricoh Arena until 2021, was the first cashless stadium in the United Kingdom. The Stadium was built in 2005 and expanded five years later.
It is the home ground of Coventry City F.C.—the club founded back in 1883. The stadium has a capacity of 32, 609, with fans making the atmosphere quite intimidating for the opposition.
Coventry City are back playing in the Championship from 2020 and after finishing 16th on the table last season under manager Mark Robins —12 points clear of the relegation zone—they’ll be trying to achieve a top-10 finish this time around.
3. Cardiff City Stadium
The Cardiff City Stadium, located in south Wales, hosts the games of Cardiff City. The club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A.F.C. before it changed its name to Cardiff City in 1908.
More recently, the team achieved promotion to the Premier League under Neil Warnock. They were relegated to the Championship two summers ago, fortunately, though, Cardiff’s home has maintained its atmosphere with a solid 33,280 capacity.
The setting of the Cardiff City Stadium in the capital city of Wales makes this a completely unique place to watch football.
2. Pride Park
The setting of Pride Park is absolutely beautiful. It is the home of Derby County, who last played in the Premier League back in 2007.
One of the largest football grounds in the Midlands, Derby have played their matches in the Pride Park stadium since it opened in 1997 as a replacement for their former home, the Baseball Ground.
Pride Park was renamed the iPro Stadium from 2013 to 2016 as the club agreed to a sponsorship deal with global sports’ drink company iPro. With a maximum capacity of 33,600, Pride Park generally make the atmosphere an intimidating ace for the visitors, particularly their bitterest rivals Nottingham Forest, who also play in the Championship.
1. Riverside Stadium
Riverside Stadium has been the home of Middlesbrough ever since it opened in 1995 and holds a special place for the fans. It is built beautifully on the banks of the River Tees.
It is a modern-looking stadium among some of the oldest venues in the English second-tier, which makes the Riverside Stadium different from the pack. The 34,742 capacity has been notorious for its ferocious atmosphere, making it not a great place to watch football for the away fans.
Despite attendances dwindling in recent years, Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium is currently the biggest stadium in the Championship and a must-visit for any football fan.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.