The English Football League Championship, known simply as the Championship in England and for sponsorship purposes as Sky Bet Championship, is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and second-highest overall in the English football league system, after the Premier League, and is currently contested by 24 clubs. The current holders are Burnley, who won the 2022–23 edition.
|Other club(s) from||Wales|
|Number of teams||24|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Premier League|
|Relegation to||EFL League One|
|Current champions||Burnley |
|TV partners||List of broadcasters|
|Current: 2023–24 EFL Championship|
Introduced for the 2004–05 season as the Football League Championship, the division is a rebrand of the former Football League First Division, which itself is a rebrand of the now-defunct Football League Second Division prior to the 1992 launch of the Premier League. The winning club of this division each season receives the EFL Championship trophy, which was the previous trophy awarded to the winners of the English top-flight prior to the launch of the Premier League. As with other divisions of professional English football, Welsh clubs can be part of this division, thus making it a cross-border league.
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.
The Championship is the wealthiest non-top-flight football division in the world, the ninth-richest division in Europe, and the tenth best-attended division in world football (with the highest per-match attendance of any secondary league). Its average match attendance for the 2018–19 season was 20,181.
Cardiff City have spent more seasons in this division than any other team, and Birmingham City currently hold the longest tenure in this division having last been absent in the 2010–11 season. Barnsley became the first club to attain 1,000 wins in second-tier English league football with a 2–1 home victory over Coventry City on 3 January 2011. They also became the first club to play 3,000 games in second-level English league football following another 2–1 home victory, this time against Brighton & Hove Albion on 12 March 2013. (W1028, D747, L1224).
This section may contain information not important or relevant to the article's subject. (January 2022)
Sunderland won the league in the first season since rebranding, 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 in 1987; playing in the fourth tier as recently as 1994 before 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. The 2004–05 season saw the division announce a total attendance (including postseason) of 9.8 million, the fourth-highest total attendance for a European football division, behind the Premier League (12.88 million), Spain's La Liga (11.57 million) and Germany's Bundesliga (10.92 million). Additionally, Millwall, competing in the inaugural Championship season, qualified for the UEFA Cup, only to lose in the first qualifying round. In the 2005–06 season, Reading broke the Football League points record for a season, finishing with 106 points, exceeding the record of 105 set by Sunderland in 1999.
Sunderland won their second Championship title in the 2006–07 season, after being relegated from the top division the previous 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. On 28 May 2007, Derby County won the first Championship play-off final at the new Wembley Stadium, beating West Bromwich Albion 1–0. 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, which began in 2004, at the end of the 2009–10 season. 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. Crystal Palace became the second Championship club to enter administration in 2010.
After winning the 2011 League Cup Final, Birmingham City became the first Championship club to compete in the group stage of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, finishing third in the group, only one point behind Portuguese club Braga. Birmingham City eventually finished fourth in the Championship that season, and would lose to fifth-place Blackpool in the play-off. Wigan Athletic became the second club to participate in the Europa League group stage after winning the 2013 FA Cup, only to accumulate one win and lose their last three group matches.
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.
For the 2016–17 season, the Football League was rebranded as the English Football League. The league had a cumulative attendance of more than 11 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. Newcastle won the title in 2016–17, while Aston Villa finished 13th, eventually returning to the Premier League in 2019.
On 13 March 2020, Championship play was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a suspension lasting until 4 April. It was then extended to the end of April, with the league eventually restarting on 20 June. Leeds United were confirmed as champions on 17 July 2020, being promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
Brentford, having been in League Two in 2009 and gaining promotion to the Championship five years later, were promoted following a play-off victory against Swansea City on 29 May 2021, after losing the play-off to Fulham the previous year. On 29 May 2022, Nottingham Forest, having been in the Championship for 14 consecutive seasons, ended their 23-year absence from the top flight by beating Huddersfield Town in the play-off final, after being last in the league as late as round 8 of the 2021–22 season.
League structure edit
The league comprises 24 teams. Over the course of a season, which runs annually from August to the following May (in 2022, the year of a World Cup break in November and December, the league started in July), 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 (including away goals record). If two or more teams finish the season equal in all these respects, then 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.
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 EFL 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.
Current members edit
The following 24 clubs will compete in the EFL Championship during the 2023–24 season.
League champions, runners-up and play-off finalists edit
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 with 93 points they set a record for the most points for a second-placed team; this was matched by Brighton & Hove Albion three years later.
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) edit
Relegated teams (from Premier League to Championship) edit
Promoted teams (from League One to Championship) edit
Top scorers edit
The EFL Championship is the second most-watched second-tier domestic sports league in the World, behind the German 2. Bundesliga (22,224), with an average of 18,787 spectators per game in the 2022–23 season. The Championship is the fifth most watched league in Europe.
The highest average league attendance was in 2017–18 season, when 11.3 million fans attended Championship matches, at an average of 20,489 per game. The lowest average league attendance came in the 2013–14 season, when 9.1 million spectators watched at an average of 16,605 per game. The highest seasonal average for a club was 51,106 for Newcastle United in the 2016–17 season.
|Season||League average attendance||Highest average|
|2004–05||17,417||Leeds United||29,207 |
|2005–06||17,607||Norwich City||24,952 |
|2007–08||17,027||Sheffield United||25,631 |
|2008–09||17,888||Derby County||29,440 |
|2009–10||17,949||Newcastle United||43,388 |
|2010–11||17,369||Leeds United||27,299 |
|2011–12||17,739||West Ham United||30,923 |
|2012–13||17,493||Brighton & Hove Albion||26,236 |
|2013–14||16,605||Brighton & Hove Albion||27,283 |
|2014–15||17,857||Derby County||29,232 |
|2015–16||17,583||Derby County||29,663 |
|2016–17||20,119||Newcastle United||51,106 |
|2017–18||20,489||Aston Villa||32,097 |
|2018–19||20,269||Aston Villa||36,029 |
|2019–20||18,585 ||Leeds United||27,643 |
|2020–21||No attendances due to COVID-19 pandemic|
|2021–22||16,776||Sheffield United||27,611 |
Historic performance edit
Since the restructuring into the Championship in 2004, 56 teams have spent at least one season in the division, including 13 of the 20 teams in the 2023–24 Premier League. Cardiff City have spent the longest in the league with 18 seasons. The 15-season spell for Ipswich Town between 2004 and 2019 is the longest consecutive spell of any team in the division. The team with the current longest tenure is Birmingham City, which will have their thirteenth consecutive season as a Championship team in the 2023-24 season. Norwich City has had six separate spells in the Championship; the most of any team. There have been 13 different winners of the EFL Championship, with six teams (Burnley, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Reading and Norwich City) having won it twice.
Burnley and Norwich City have been promoted out of the Championship on four occasions, with five teams (Fulham, Hull City, Sheffield United, Watford, West Brom) having been promoted on three occasions. Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic have been relegated from the Championship on four occasions, with two teams (Barnsley and Charlton Athletic) having been relegated on three occasions. 14 teams have been both promoted out of and relegated from the Championship.
- † Teams with this background and symbol in the "Club" column will be competing in the 2023–24 EFL Championship
- ‡ Team will be competing in the 2023–24 Premier League
- The club competed in the EFL Championship during that season (the number is the club's final league position)
|Club||Total Seasons||Number of Spells||Longest Spell (Seasons)||Highest Position||Lowest Position||Season|
|Aston Villa ‡||3||1||3||4||13||13||4||5|
|Birmingham City †||15||3||13||2||21||2||2||4||12||21||10||10||19||19||17||20||18||20||17||-|
|Blackburn Rovers †||11||2||6||8||22||17||8||9||15||22||15||11||15||8||7||-|
|Brighton & Hove Albion ‡||8||2||6||2||24||20||24||10||4||6||20||3||2|
|Bristol City †||15||2||9||4||24||4||10||10||15||20||24||18||17||11||8||12||19||17||14||-|
|Cardiff City †||18||3||9||1||18||16||11||13||12||7||4||4||6||1||11||8||12||2||5||8||18||21||-|
|Coventry City †||12||2||8||5||23||19||8||17||21||17||19||18||23||16||12||5||-|
|Crystal Palace ‡||8||1||8||5||21||6||12||5||15||21||20||17||5|
|Huddersfield Town †||10||2||5||3||20||19||17||16||19||5||18||20||3||18||-|
|Hull City †||13||5||3||2||24||18||21||3||11||8||2||4||18||13||24||19||15||-|
|Ipswich Town †||16||2||15||3||24||3||15||14||8||9||15||13||15||14||9||6||7||16||12||24||-|
|Leeds United †||14||3||10||1||24||14||5||24||7||14||13||15||15||13||7||13||3||1||-|
|Leicester City †||10||3||5||1||22||15||16||19||22||5||10||9||6||1||-|
|Luton Town ‡||6||2||4||3||23||10||23||19||12||6||3|
|Milton Keynes Dons||1||1||1||23||23||23|
|Newcastle United ‡||2||2||1||1||1||1||1|
|Norwich City †||12||6||4||1||22||9||16||17||22||2||3||8||14||1||1||13||-|
|Nottingham Forest ‡||15||2||14||3||23||23||19||3||6||19||8||11||14||16||21||17||9||7||17||4|
|Plymouth Argyle †||7||2||6||10||23||17||14||11||10||21||23||-|
|Preston North End †||16||2||9||4||22||5||4||7||15||6||17||22||11||11||7||14||9||13||13||12||-|
|Queens Park Rangers †||17||3||9||1||21||11||21||18||14||11||13||1||4||12||18||16||19||13||9||11||20||-|
|Rotherham United †||8||5||3||21||24||24||21||21||24||22||23||19||-|
|Sheffield United ‡||10||4||4||2||23||8||2||9||3||8||23||10||2||5||2|
|Sheffield Wednesday †||15||3||9||4||24||19||9||16||12||22||18||16||13||6||4||15||12||16||24||-|
|Stoke City †||10||2||6||2||16||12||13||8||2||16||15||14||14||16||-|
|Swansea City †||9||2||6||3||15||8||7||3||10||6||4||15||10||-|
|West Bromwich Albion †||8||4||3||1||10||4||1||2||4||2||10||9||-|
|West Ham United ‡||2||2||1||3||6||6||3|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers ‡||10||3||5||1||23||9||7||5||7||1||23||7||14||15||1|
See also edit
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- "Cumulative revenue of Europe's 'big five' leagues grew by 5% in 2012/13 to €9.8 billion". deloitte.com. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Archived from the original on 4 February 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- A referenced list of all leagues ranking above the Championship is available at the Major League Soccer attendance page.
- "Championship 2018/2019 - Attendance". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 13 May 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
- "Barnsley 2–1 Brighton". BBC Sport. 12 March 2013. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
Barnsley became the first team to play 3,000 games in second level league football.
- "Countdown underway to new season". BBC Sport News. 6 August 2005. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
Attendances rose by 10% to 9.8 million in 2004/05; it is the fourth best attended division in Europe; 9 clubs had something to play for on the final day of the last campaign (2004–05).
- Lansley, Peter (29 July 2005). "Championship glories in outstripping Serie A". The Times. UK. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- First class second division TheFA.com
- "League Points". Football League 125. Archived from the original on 12 November 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Leeds Utd call in administrators". BBC News. 4 May 2007. Archived from the original on 10 May 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Relegated Leeds in administration". BBC Sport. 4 May 2007. Archived from the original on 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Derby 1–0 West Brom". BBC Sport. 28 May 2007. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Burnley 1–0 Sheff Utd". BBC Sport. 25 May 2009. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
- Coca-Cola end Football League sponsorship deal Archived 6 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, 30 September 2009
- Football League names npower as new sponsor Archived 15 November 2019 at the Wayback Machine BBC Sport, 16 March 2010
- "Crystal Palace in Administration". 28 January 2010. Archived from the original on 31 January 2010.
- "Season 2013/14". uefa.com. UEFA. Archived from the original on 27 July 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
- "Sky Bet Sponsor Football League". skysports.com. Sky Sports. 18 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
- "Derby County 0–1 Queens Park Rangers". BBC Sport. 24 May 2014. Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "EFL: More than 18m fans watched matches in 2016–17". BBC Sport. 11 May 2017. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Championship play-off final: Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County". BBC Sport. 14 May 2019. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
- "¡Vamos Leeds Carajo! Bielsa's boys back in the big time". Goal.com. 17 July 2020. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
- "Championship play-off final: Brentford promoted to Premier League after winning 'football's richest game'". Sky News. 29 May 2021. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
- "Huddersfield 0–1 Nottingham Forest". BBC Sport. 29 May 2022. Archived from the original on 30 May 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
- "World Cup: Championship to be paused during Qatar 2022 showpiece".[permanent dead link]
- "Championship". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
- "Football Ground Guide". Football Ground Guide. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
- The teams listed for this season were ranked using points per game following the curtailment of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.
- "Highest League attendances for 70 years as nearly 22 million attend EFL competitions". www.efl.com. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
- "Championship 2017/2018 - Attendance". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
- "Championship 2013/2014 - Attendance". worldfootball.net. Archived from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
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