EFL Championship

The English Football League Championship (often referred to as the Championship for short or the Sky Bet Championship for sponsorship reasons)[1] is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and second-highest overall in the English football league system after the Premier League. The league is contested by 24 clubs. Each season, the two top-finishing teams in the Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League. The teams that finish the season in 3rd to 6th place enter a playoff tournament, with the winner also gaining promotion to the Premier League. The three lowest-finishing teams in the Championship are relegated to League One.

EFL Championship
1992–2004 (as Football League First Division)
1892–1992 (as Division One)
CountryEngland (22 teams)
Other club(s) fromWales (2 teams)
Number of teams24
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toPremier League
Relegation toLeague One
Domestic cup(s)FA Cup
League cup(s)EFL Cup
International cup(s)UEFA Europa League (via FA Cup or EFL Cup)
Current championsNorwich City
Most championshipsNewcastle United, Reading, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers
(2 titles)
TV partnersSky Sports
Quest (highlights only)
WebsiteOfficial website
2019–20 EFL Championship

The Football League Championship, which was introduced for the 2004–05 season, was previously known as the Football League First Division (1992–2004), and before that as the Football League Second Division (1892–1992). The winners of the Championship receive the Football League Championship trophy, the same trophy as the old First Division champions were handed prior to the Premier League's inception in 1992. Similar to other divisions of professional English football, Welsh clubs can be part of the division, making it a cross-border league.

The Championship is the wealthiest non-top flight football division in the world and the eighth richest division in Europe.[2] With an average match attendance for the 2018–19 season of 20,181,[3] the Championship had the highest per-match attendance of any secondary league in the world, with only nine top-flight leagues known to have higher attendance figures.[4]

Barnsley have spent more seasons at the second level of English football than any other team and on 3 January 2011 became the first club to achieve 1,000 wins in the second level of English football with a 2–1 home victory over Coventry City. Barnsley are also the first club to play 3,000 games in second-level league football (W1028, D747, L1224).[5] At present, Derby County and Nottingham Forest hold the longest tenure in the Championship, last being out of the division in the 2007–08 season.[6][7]


For history before 2004, see Football League First Division after 1993 and Football League Second Division before that year

In its inaugural season of 2004–05, the Football League Championship announced a total attendance (including postseason) of 9.8 million, which it said was the fourth highest total attendance for a European football division, behind the FA Premier League (12.88m), Spain's La Liga (11.57m) and Germany's Bundesliga (10.92m), but beating Italy's Serie A (9.77m) and France's Ligue 1 (8.17m).[8][9][10]

Sunderland won the league in the first season since re-branding, with Wigan Athletic finishing second to win promotion to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history. They had only been elected to the Football League twenty-seven years previously; playing in the fourth tier as recently as eleven years prior to their promotion. West Ham United won the first Championship play-off final that season, following a 1–0 victory over Preston North End at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. In the 2005–06 season, Reading broke the Football League points record for a season, finishing on 106 points, exceeding the record set by Sunderland in 1999.[11]

Sunderland won their second Championship title in three seasons in the 2006–07 season. On 4 May 2007, Leeds United became the first side since the re-branding of the division to enter administration; they were deducted 10 points and were relegated as a result.[12][13] On 28 May 2007, Derby County won the first Championship play-off final at the new Wembley Stadium, beating West Bromwich Albion 1–0 in front of nearly 75,000 spectators.[14] West Brom would go on to win the Championship in the following season.

On 30 September 2009, Coca-Cola announced they would end their sponsorship deal with The Football League (now English Football League) at the end of the 2009–10 season.[15] On 16 March 2010, npower were announced as the new title sponsors of the Football League, and from the start of the 2010–11 Football League season until the end of the 2012–13 season, the Football League Championship was known as the Npower Championship.[16]

On 18 July 2013, UK bookmaker Sky Bet announced that they signed a five-year agreement to sponsor the league.[1]

On 24 May 2014, the Championship play-off final between Derby County and Queens Park Rangers saw the highest crowd for any Championship fixture – 87,348 witnessed a Bobby Zamora stoppage time winner for QPR to win promotion for the London club.[17]

For the 2016–17 season, the Football League was re-branded as the English Football League. In the 2019-20 season, Barnsley recorded the lowest points total in Championship history – winning just 13 points from their 46 matches. The league had an cumulative attendance of more than eleven million – excluding play-off matches – with more than two million watching Newcastle United and Aston Villa home fixtures alone; both of whom had been relegated from the Premier League in the previous season. This was included in the highest crowds for the second to fourth tier in England since the 1958–59 season.[18]

Structure of the league

The league comprises 24 teams. Over the course of a season, which runs annually from August to the following May, each team plays twice against the others in the league, once at 'home' and once 'away', resulting in each team competing in 46 games in total. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The teams are ranked in the league table by points gained, then goal difference, then goals scored and then their head-to-head record for that season. In the event that two or more teams finish the season equal in all these respects, teams are separated by alphabetical order, unless a promotion, relegation or play-off place (see below) is at stake, when the teams are separated by a play-off game, though this improbable situation has never arisen in all the years the rule has existed.[19]

At the end of the season, the top two teams and the winner of the Championship play-offs are promoted to the Premier League and the bottom three teams are relegated to Football League One. The Football League Championship play-offs is a knock-out competition for the teams finishing the season in third to sixth place with the winner being promoted to the Premier League. In the play-offs, the third-placed team plays against the sixth-placed team and the fourth-placed team plays against the fifth-placed team in two-legged semi-finals (home and away). The winners of each semi-final then compete in a single match at Wembley stadium with the prize being promotion to the Premier League and the Championship play-off trophy.

Broadcasting rights

UK television

Highlights were broadcast on ITV from 1994 to 2009, firstly on Football League Extra, and later on The Championship from 2004, until the highlights rights were bought by the BBC in 2009. From 2001 to 2002, live matches were broadcast on ITV Digital, although the company was put into administration in March 2002 and ceased broadcasting after the football season. The broadcast rights were taken over by Sky Sports.

From 2009 to 2012, Sky Sports had the rights to broadcast 65 live matches. Live coverage of both legs of both play-off semi finals and the play-off final are shown live. Highlights are shown on Quest.

UK radio

talkSPORT hold exclusive national rights to broadcast audio commentary of a selection of Championship matches live to the whole of the United Kingdom; most headline matches are broadcast on either talkSPORT or talkSPORT2. However, BBC Sport does have the rights to broadcast audio commentary for BBC Local Radio in an area with a Championship team.


Current members

Greater London Championship football clubs

The following 24 clubs competed in the EFL Championship during the 2019–20 season.

Club Finishing position last season Location Stadium Capacity[23]
Barnsley2nd in League One (promoted)BarnsleyOakwell23,287
Birmingham City17thBordesleySt Andrew's30,016
Blackburn Rovers15thBlackburnEwood Park31,367
Brentford11thLondon (Brentford)Griffin Park12,763
Bristol City8thBristolAshton Gate27,000
Cardiff City 18th in Premier League (relegated)CardiffCardiff City Stadium33,316
Charlton Athletic3rd in League One (promoted via play-offs)London
The Valley27,111
Derby County6thDerbyPride Park Stadium33,597
Fulham 19th in Premier League (relegated)London
Craven Cottage19,000
Huddersfield Town 20th in Premier League (relegated)HuddersfieldKirklees Stadium24,121
Hull City13thKingston upon HullKCOM Stadium25,404
Leeds United3rdLeedsElland Road37,900
Luton Town1st in League One (promoted)LutonKenilworth Road10,356
Middlesbrough7thMiddlesbroughRiverside Stadium34,742
Millwall21stLondon (South Bermondsey)The Den20,146
Nottingham Forest9thNottinghamCity Ground30,576
Preston North End14thPrestonDeepdale23,408
Queens Park Rangers19thLondon (Shepherd's Bush)Loftus Road18,360
Reading20thReadingMadejski Stadium24,200
Sheffield Wednesday12thSheffieldHillsborough39,732
Stoke City16thStoke-on-Trentbet365 Stadium30,089
Swansea City10thSwanseaLiberty Stadium21,088
West Bromwich Albion4thWest BromwichThe Hawthorns26,850
Wigan Athletic18thWiganDW Stadium25,133


League champions, runners-up and play-off finalists

Season Champions Runner-up Play-off winner score Play-off runner-up
2004–05 Sunderland 94 Wigan Athletic 87 West Ham United 73 (6th) 1–0 Preston North End 75 (5th)
2005–06 Reading 106 Sheffield United 90 Watford 81 (3rd) 3–0 Leeds United 78 (5th)
2006–07 Sunderland 88 Birmingham City 86 Derby County 84 (3rd) 1–0 West Bromwich Albion 76 (4th)
2007–08 West Bromwich Albion 81 Stoke City 79 Hull City 75 (3rd) 1–0 Bristol City 74 (4th)
2008–09 Wolverhampton Wanderers 90 Birmingham City 83 Burnley 76 (5th) 1–0 Sheffield United 80 (3rd)
2009–10 Newcastle United 102 West Bromwich Albion 91 Blackpool 70 (6th) 3–2 Cardiff City 76 (4th)
2010–11 Queens Park Rangers 88 Norwich City1 84 Swansea City 80 (3rd) 4–2 Reading 77 (5th)
2011–12 Reading 89 Southampton 88 West Ham United 86 (3rd) 2–1 Blackpool 75 (5th)
2012–13 Cardiff City 87 Hull City 79 Crystal Palace 72 (5th) 1–0 (a.e.t) Watford 77 (3rd)
2013–14 Leicester City 102 Burnley2 93 Queens Park Rangers 80 (4th) 1–0 Derby County 85 (3rd)
2014–15 Bournemouth 90 Watford 89 Norwich City 86 (3rd) 2–0 Middlesbrough 85 (4th)
2015–16 Burnley 93 Middlesbrough 89 Hull City 83 (4th) 1–0 Sheffield Wednesday 74 (6th)
2016–17 Newcastle United 94 Brighton & Hove Albion 93 Huddersfield Town 81 (5th) 0–0 (4–3 pen) Reading 85 (3rd)
2017–18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 99 Cardiff City 90 Fulham 88 (3rd) 1–0 Aston Villa 83 (4th)
2018–19 Norwich City 94 Sheffield United 89 Aston Villa 76 (5th) 2–1 Derby County 74 (6th)

1 When Norwich City gained promotion to the Premier League they were the first team to be relegated to, relegated from, promoted to and promoted from the Championship.
2 When Burnley were promoted in second place with 93 points, they had set a record for the most points for a second-placed team. This record was subsequently matched by Brighton & Hove Albion in the 2016–17 season when they finished second with 93 points.

For past winners at this level before 2004, see List of winners of English Football League Championship and predecessors

Relegated teams (from Championship to League One)

Season Clubs
2004–05 Gillingham (50), Nottingham Forest (44), Rotherham United (29)
2005–06 Crewe Alexandra (42), Millwall (40), Brighton & Hove Albion (38)
2006–07 Southend United (42), Luton Town (40), Leeds United (36)
2007–08 Leicester City (52), Scunthorpe United (46), Colchester United (38)
2008–09 Norwich City (46), Southampton (45), Charlton Athletic (39)
2009–10 Sheffield Wednesday (47), Plymouth Argyle (41), Peterborough United (34)
2010–11 Preston North End (42), Sheffield United (42), Scunthorpe United (42)
2011–12 Portsmouth (40), Coventry City (40), Doncaster Rovers (36)
2012–13 Peterborough United (54), Wolverhampton Wanderers (51), Bristol City (41)
2013–14 Doncaster Rovers (44), Barnsley (39), Yeovil Town (37)
2014–15 Millwall (41), Wigan Athletic (39), Blackpool (26)
2015–16 Charlton Athletic (40), Milton Keynes Dons (39), Bolton Wanderers (30)
2016–17 Blackburn Rovers (51), Wigan Athletic (42), Rotherham United (23)
2017–18 Barnsley (41), Burton Albion (41), Sunderland (37)
2018–19 Rotherham United (40), Bolton Wanderers (32), Ipswich Town (31)

Relegated teams (from Premier League to Championship)

Season Clubs
2004–05 Crystal Palace (33), Norwich City (33), Southampton (32)
2005–06 Birmingham City (34), West Bromwich Albion (30), Sunderland (15)
2006–07 Sheffield United (38), Charlton Athletic (34), Watford (29)
2007–08 Reading (36), Birmingham City (35), Derby County (11)
2008–09 Newcastle United (34), Middlesbrough (32), West Bromwich Albion (32)
2009–10 Burnley (30), Hull City (30), Portsmouth (19)
2010–11 Birmingham City (39), Blackpool (39), West Ham United (33)
2011–12 Bolton Wanderers (36), Blackburn Rovers (31), Wolverhampton Wanderers (25)
2012–13 Wigan Athletic (36), Reading (28), Queens Park Rangers (25)
2013–14 Norwich City (33), Fulham (32), Cardiff City (30)
2014–15 Hull City (35), Burnley (33), Queens Park Rangers (30)
2015–16 Newcastle United (37), Norwich City (34), Aston Villa (17)
2016–17 Hull City (34), Middlesbrough (28), Sunderland (24)
2017–18 Swansea City (33), Stoke City (33), West Bromwich Albion (31)
2018–19 Cardiff City (34), Fulham (26), Huddersfield Town (15)
Season Clubs
2004–05 Luton Town (98), Hull City (86), Sheffield Wednesday (Play-off winners) (72)
2005–06 Southend United (82), Colchester United (79), Barnsley (Play-off winners) (72)
2006–07 Scunthorpe United (91), Bristol City (85), Blackpool (Play-off winners) (83)
2007–08 Swansea City (91), Nottingham Forest (82), Doncaster Rovers (Play-off winners) (80)
2008–09 Leicester City (96), Peterborough United (89), Scunthorpe United (Play-off winners) (76)
2009–10 Norwich City (95), Leeds United (86), Millwall (Play-off winners) (85)
2010–11 Brighton & Hove Albion (95), Southampton (92), Peterborough United (Play-off winners) (79)
2011–12 Charlton Athletic (101), Sheffield Wednesday (93), Huddersfield Town (Play-off winners) (81)
2012–13 Doncaster Rovers (84), Bournemouth (83), Yeovil Town (Play-off winners) (77)
2013–14 Wolverhampton Wanderers (103), Brentford (94), Rotherham United (Play-off winners) (86)
2014–15 Bristol City (99), Milton Keynes Dons (91), Preston North End (Play-off winners) (89)
2015–16 Wigan Athletic (87), Burton Albion (85), Barnsley (Play-off winners) (74)
2016–17 Sheffield United (100), Bolton Wanderers (87), Millwall (Play-off winners) (73)
2017–18 Wigan Athletic (98), Blackburn Rovers (96), Rotherham United (Play-off winners) (79)
2018–19 Luton Town (94), Barnsley (91), Charlton Athletic (Play-off winners) (88)

Top scorers

Season Top scorer(s) Club(s) Goals
2004–05 Nathan Ellington Wigan Athletic 24
2005–06 Marlon King Watford 21
2006–07 Jamie Cureton Colchester 23
2007–08 Sylvan Ebanks-Blake Plymouth Argyle
Wolverhampton Wanderers
2008–09 Sylvan Ebanks-Blake Wolverhampton Wanderers 25
2009–10 Peter Whittingham Cardiff City 20
Nicky Maynard Bristol City
2010–11 Danny Graham Watford 24
2011–12 Rickie Lambert Southampton 27
2012–13 Glenn Murray Crystal Palace 30
2013–14 Ross McCormack Leeds United 28
2014–15 Daryl Murphy Ipswich Town 27
2015–16 Andre Gray Burnley 25
2016–17 Chris Wood Leeds United 27
2017–18 Matěj Vydra Derby County 21
2018–19 Teemu Pukki Norwich City 29

See also


  1. "Sky Bet to sponsor The Football League". The Football League. 18 July 2013. Archived from the original on 21 July 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  2. "Cumulative revenue of Europe's 'big five' leagues grew by 5% in 2012/13 to €9.8 billion". deloitte.com. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. "Championship 2018/2019 - Attendance". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  4. A referenced list of all leagues ranking above the Championship is available at the Major League Soccer attendance page.
  5. "Barnsley 2–1 Brighton". BBC Sport. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. House, Future Publishing Limited Quay; Ambury, The; Engl, Bath BA1 1UA All rights reserved; number 2008885, Wales company registration (1 April 2019). "Derby County's shocking 2007/08 revisited: the Premier League's worst ever season, told by those who were there". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  7. Clarke, Lee (24 November 2016). "Where are they now? - Nottingham Forest's 2007/08 promotion winning team | Football League World - Part 11". footballleagueworld.co.uk. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  8. "Countdown underway to new season". BBC News. 6 August 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  9. Lansley, Peter (29 July 2005). "Championship glories in outstripping Serie A". The Times. UK. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  10. First class second division TheFA.com
  11. "League Points". Football League 125. Archived from the original on 12 November 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  12. "Leeds Utd call in administrators". BBC News. 4 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  13. "Relegated Leeds in administration". BBC Sport. 4 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  14. "Derby 1–0 West Brom". BBC Sport. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  15. Coca-Cola end Football League sponsorship deal The Guardian, 30 September 2009
  16. Football League names npower as new sponsor BBC Sport, 16 March 2010
  17. "Derby County 0–1 Queens Park Rangers". BBC Sport. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  18. "EFL: More than 18m fans watched matches in 2016–17". BBC Sport. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  19. "Championship". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
  20. "EFL Official Website – International Broadcast Partners". www.efl.com. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  21. T&C's on the Betfair Live Video website
  22. [The FAQ on the Bet365 streaming website]
  23. "Football Ground Guide". Football Ground Guide. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

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