Championship will be really tough next season - Bristol City boss
BRISTOL City manager Derek McInnes believes the npower Championship will be more competitive than ever next season.
Now that the various promotion and relegation issues have been decided, it is clear there will be few weak teams in the English second tier when the new campaign starts on August 18.
Financially-compromised clubs Portsmouth, Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers have all fallen through the trapdoor into League One, to be replaced by the far more robust trio of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town, who beat Sheffield United in a penalty shootout to win the play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.
Reading, Southampton and West Ham United have moved up to the Barclays Premier League and will be replaced in the Championship by Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, all established top-flight clubs in recent times.
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Although there will be no stand-out glamour side operating in the Championship next season, there are few obvious weak links and City will be required to compete against five clubs bolstered by Premier League parachute payments.
Having won a long and arduous battle to keep City in the Championship last term, McInnes anticipates another challenging campaign.
He said: "The Championship will be really tough next season. You look at the clubs that have come down from the Premier League and up from League One and you know they will make our division even more competitive than it already is.
"There were some clubs that struggled financially last year, but they have now gone and been replaced by bigger clubs, ones with bigger support, ambition and tradition.
"It is the same with the clubs dropping out of the top-flight. Wolves, Bolton and Blackburn are all established Premier League outfits and they will be under immense pressure to go straight back up. There is no doubt in my mind that, financially at least, the six new clubs will make it a stronger league."
Charlton boss Chris Powell, pictured, has been handed an expansive war chest to fund new signings, while Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones and Huddersfield's Simon Grayson will also be given money to spend by ambitious owners.
Similarly, Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves will boast superior spending power to City, who have been forced to cut costs drastically after losing close to £30 million in the last three years.
After finishing 20th last season and conceding 68 goals, City must, nevertheless, invest heavily in their squad if they are to avoid a similar fight against relegation next time round.
Having radically reduced the size of his squad by moving on 11 players since the turn of the year, McInnes is now in the process of building for a brighter future.
He said: "People will be looking at us next season and expecting more. I don't want us to have to go through another season like the last one and I'm confident that, with the right additions, we can become more competitive.
"Looking at the make-up of the Championship next season, it is going to be a fantastic challenge for us. But it is one we have to look forward to and relish."