ON the face of it, the ongoing row between a majority of Championship clubs and the Football League is another example of the big boys wanting an even more inequitable slice of the pie.

Last month, there was talk of the biggest clubs in Europe forming a breakaway Super League. Now, it’s the top sides in the Championship flexing their muscles and threatening to create a Premier League 2 that will cut them adrift from clubs in Leagues One and Two.

In the same week that the clubs in the Premier League have agreed to fund a £5m pay-off to outgoing chief executive Richard Scudamore, it adds to the impression of football being a money-obsessed sport that has completely lost touch with the communities that once nurtured it.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you might find yourself coming to a different conclusion. On this occasion, the Championship clubs that issued a statement on Monday expressing their “grave concern” at the EFL’s new television deal – Middlesbrough are understood to have been among them – can claim to be in the right.

Whatever you think about the Premier League as an organisation, its ability to negotiate the best deal possible when it comes to television rights is impossible to dispute. The EFL, on the other hand, looks like an organisation in desperate need of an overhaul. How else can you explain to mess of an agreement that emerged at the start of the week?

The EFL’s new £595m five-year deal with Sky Sports might represent a 35 per cent increase on the previous contract, but the Championship clubs are right when they argue it still grossly undervalues their league, which boasts the third highest cumulative attendance of any league in Europe, behind the Premier League and Bundesliga but ahead of La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

The Premier League’s most recent three-year deal with Sky and BT Sport, which begins next year, is worth £4.55bn. That is almost eight times higher than the Football League deal, even though it covers two fewer years. And the Premier League money is split between 20 clubs while the Football League pot has to be shared around 72.

Was that really the maximum sum that could have been secured? Speaking privately with senior figures at Middlesbrough, it’s safe to say they don’t think so, and while there is inevitably a degree of self-interest behind the unhappiness at most Championship clubs, there is also a wider fear about the damage that will be caused by the financial gap between the Premier League and Football League becoming even bigger.

The Premier League accepts the issue is a problem, hence its willingness to agree to parachute payments to help clubs reacclimatise after dropping out of the top-flight. As things stand, the gulf between the top two divisions is set to get even wider, even though the Championship currently contains a host of clubs that are as big a draw domestically as plenty of clubs in the Premier League.

Are Sky really saying that a match between Brighton and Burnley is eight times more appealing to viewers than a game between Leeds United and Middlesbrough? Or that Huddersfield vs Fulham is eight times more lucrative to them than West Brom vs Aston Villa?

The sums don’t make sense, and they’re even harder to fathom when you factor in Sky’s ability to show every midweek Championship game live on their red button service. That is another huge source of anger to the clubs that signed up to Monday’s statement as anecdotal evidence from the first three months of the current campaign suggests the blanket live coverage has a major negative effect on match-day attendances.

That might not be a major issue in the Premier League, where match-day revenue increasingly plays a relatively minor role in overall income, but it is a huge problem in the Championship, where revenue generated on a match-day can still make up well over 50 per cent of a club’s total income.

The clubs told the EFL they were against the idea, but claim the league’s executive went ahead and signed for it anyway without an adequate degree of dialogue. The EFL dispute that, but there is no doubt the issue has led to a complete breakdown in trust.

To exacerbate the clubs’ frustrations, the new deal covers the next five years. That is a huge timescale when the world of digital technology is changing seemingly by the week. Who knows what social media and live streaming will look like in five years’ time? Whatever happens though, clubs in the Championship will be locked in to their Sky deal and unable to respond to any changes in technology or demand.

The clubs claim the EFL knew all this, but ploughed ahead regardless. A breakaway league looks unlikely, but there is a determination amongst most Championship clubs to “ensure the matter is not left here”. For once, I have a large amount of sympathy for their position.

THE departure of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane from their positions in charge of the Republic of Ireland means that of Sunderland’s last ten permanent managers before Jack Ross, eight are now out of work. The exceptions are Chris Coleman, who is in China as the head coach of Hebei China Fortune, and Dick Advocaat, who is managing FC Utrecht.

As Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven are discovering, the club made multiple mistakes in a host of different areas during the Ellis Short era. Managerial recruitment, however, was perhaps the biggest failing.

For far too long, the manager’s office at the Stadium of Light was a waiting room for the soon-to-be-unemployed. It is therefore to Donald and Methven’s credit that their first managerial appointment is working out so well.

EARLY this morning, Tiger Woods will have lined up against Phil Mickelson in a €9m match-play event that has been branded the ‘Showdown at Shadow Creek’.

Shadow Creek is about right, given that the two participants are shadows of the players that were trading Major title wins a decade-and-a-half ago.

Had they played against each other then, it would have been mildly interesting. Instead, today’s head-to-head is showbiz rather than sport. ‘I’m a Golf Fan – Get me out of here’.