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Why Yorkshire desperately need a Premier League side

Tuesday 29th March 2016
The proud northern county of Yorkshire was once considered a hotspot of top tier football, but they desperately need a Premier League side to avoid being left behind.

Elland Road, Bramall Lane, Hillsborough, The Riverside, The KC Stadium, Oakwell and Valley Parade. Premier League football has been played at all seven of these grounds over the last 24 years but following Hull's relegation, the largest county in England has seen none this season. For the place officially recognised as the birthplace of club football, it is both surprising and disappointing.
 David Nugent celebrates his winner against Hull last week.
David Nugent celebrates his winner against Hull last week.
People from Yorkshire are enormously proud of their sport; they've been cricket's county champions a record 31 times, Yorkshire born athletes have won more gold medals at the 2012 Olympics than Spain and they have six sides in Rugby League's Super League including the current double holders Leeds Rhino's.

Yorkshire needs a team competing at the top level of English football.

Hull, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday could all be that team. All three are in the top six and battling for promotion from the Championship. It's unlikely that they will go up but it'd be surprising if at least one of them were not successful.

Despite being more commonly known as Teesiders, Middlesbrough is in fact in the traditional county of Yorkshire and amazingly it is seven years since they were relegated from the top flight. They sit in third place just one point behind Brighton in the automatic spots and have a game in hand on the Seagulls. But it's been a tough month for Boro', everybody expected Aitor Karanka to leave the club two weeks ago. He hadn't taken training all week and wasn't in the dugout for the 2-0 defeat at Charlton. Rumours of disagreements with players such as Stewart Downing surfaced and Boro' fans feared the worst.

Surprisingly Karanka stayed and Middlesbrough picked up a huge three points at home to promotion rivals Hull in their last game before the international break. They definitely have a strong enough squad to get promoted and their final day fixture at home to Brighton could well be a winner takes all scenario. Boro' fans might not have enjoyed their extended stay in England's second tier but their support has been rejuvenated in recent seasons and they would be well equipped to stay up if they go up.

Unlike Middlesbrough, Hull are looking to return to the Premier League after just one year away. The Tigers were top of the tree after a 1-0 win at Ipswich on February 23rd but have picked up just three points in their five games since. Even a victory in their game in hand would leave them two points behind Brighton and six behind current leaders Burnley but Steve Bruce will take heart from their remaining fixture list.

They have just two games against teams in the top half of the table left and play two of the bottom five in their last two games. They'll need leading scorer Abel Hernandez to find some form if they want to stay in the hunt but Bruce knows how to get teams promoted and they certainly won't settle for the playoffs.

Sheffield Wednesday would perhaps be the most popular of the three to go up, unless you're a Sheffield United fan. Despite being one of best supported clubs outside of the Premier League, Wednesday haven't looked like returning since relegation in 2000 and have spent four of the intervening seasons in League One. Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri brought the club from Milan Mandaric last January with the aim of returning to the Premier League by 2017.
He appointed the relatively unknown Portuguese manager Carlos Carvalhal in the summer and has invested heavily in the playing squad. His investment is already paying off as Wednesday occupy the final playoff place and have a three point cushion over Cardiff in seventh. The playoffs are a lottery and the Owls would have to be at their very best to be successful if they get there, but the season will be remembered fondly by Wednesday fans whatever happens. They have a team they can be proud of again and as one of their favourite songs this season reminds us, one of the sleeping giants of English football look to be on their way back.

With Sunderland and Newcastle struggling at the bottom of the Premier League, northern football needs a boost. Outside of the traditional powerhouses of Manchester and Liverpool, the South and Midlands dominate the top tier.

A North/South divide is often spoken about amongst the press for issues outside of football, but there is a danger of it becoming a reality in the game as well.

If one of the three Yorkshire clubs mentioned before were to be promoted it would ensure the North continues to be represented in the Premier League, as well as providing a welcome boost to football in the county.
Matthew Storey
Luton Town season ticket holder and Portsmouth journalism student. Mostly interested in the lower leagues, follow me on twitter @storeymatt

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