Upfront: The League Express opinion – Mon 15th Nov 2021
The Betfred Championship and League 1 fixtures have been released for 2022, and there are already many reasons to look forward to what promises to be another excellent season for the fans of clubs in those competitions.
First and foremost, there is the welcome return of regular Championship action to our TV screens, with Premier Sports set to televise matches every week from the beginning of the season.
Those who follow the Championship know just how compelling, dramatic and skilful Rugby League can be at that level and it is good to know that a broadcaster agrees and is willing to back it.
Let’s hope the coverage does it justice, and maybe draws a few extra eyeballs to the sport along the way, while for established fans the news that Championship season ticket holders can get almost 40% off an annual Premier Sports subscription is welcome.
We can be certain that the action will be worthy of TV, and the storylines already look as exciting as anything the soaps could offer in competition on a Monday night.
The first live match will feature Featherstone, who have had their dreams broken two seasons running. With no giants from Canada or France to deny them, and serial winner Brian McDermott in charge, will 2022 be their year?
If anyone can stop them, perhaps it will be Leigh, who come down from Super League with strong resources. Their televised showdown with Featherstone in the second week promises to be appointment viewing.
Elsewhere there is no shortage of contenders, with Halifax and Bradford recruiting strongly. Newcastle have big ambitions as they go full-time, while London have gone in the other direction.
Batley and Whitehaven will be aiming to repeat their feat of reaching the play-offs, and the likes of Dewsbury, Sheffield, Widnes and York will want to emulate them.
And the promotion of Barrow and Workington make it a full Cumbrian complement, but will they avoid a scrap against the drop?
League 1 may not be getting the Premier Sports treatment, but it promises to be just as enthralling, with Oldham and Swinton looking for an instant return to the Championship.
Keighley, Doncaster, Hunslet and Rochdale will all hope to challenge along with the surprise package of last term, North Wales Crusaders.
Then there is the rebranded Midlands Hurricanes, while London Skolars and West Wales are joined down south by Cornwall. Let’s hope by the time League 1 begins, plenty of support has been drummed up in Penryn.
There should be interest in every level of the game in 2022, but the lower leagues promise to deliver some of the best action of all. Live TV coverage will make it truly unmissable.
The above content – including full fixture lists for each club in the Betfred Championship and League 1 – is also available in the current edition of League Express, cover dated Monday 15th November, available from newsstands in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.