AFP: Southampton kicked off their bid for an immediate return to the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Sheffield yesterday in the opening game of the “toughest ever” Championship season yesterday. Nathan Tella’s curler was turned in by Adam Armstrong to put Southampton ahead in the eighth minute at Hillsborough. Lee Gregory equalised with a close-range volley in the 54th minute.
But Che Adams’ clinical finish from six yards in the 87th minute won it for Southampton at the start of their first season outside the Premier League since 2012. After last season’s bottom of the table finish, former Swansea boss Russell Martin has been hired to stabilise a club that used three managers in their failed attempt to avoid relegation. The gritty victory over promoted Wednesday underlined how tough it will be to escape a division packed with clubs ready to push themselves to the financial brink in their desperation to hit the Premier League jackpot.
The average annual spending by Championship clubs is £32 million, with nearly two thirds of clubs paying more on wages than they generate in revenue. Reading and Wigan were relegated last season after incurring penalties for financial issues, but spending has intensified after a summer of overseas investment in Championship teams. Influenced by Wrexham’s rise to global prominence during their promotion to League Two last season under the ownerships of Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, US-based celebrities have rushed to buy into English clubs.
Nayeemul Islam khan
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