The English Football League Championship (often referred to as the Championship for short or the Sky Bet Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and second-highest overall in the English football league system, after the Premier League. Each year, the top finishing teams in the Championship are promoted to the Premier League, and the lowest finishing teams are relegated to League One.
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 was known as Division Two (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.
The Championship is the wealthiest non-top flight football division in the world and the seventh richest division in Europe. With an average match attendance for the 2016–17 season of 20,130 the Championship ranked second after the German 2. Bundesliga as the most-watched secondary league in the world.
In the 2016–17 season, Newcastle United were the division champions and Brighton & Hove Albion were the runners up. Huddersfield Town will join them being promoted via the 2017 EFL Championship play-off Final. At present, Ipswich Town hold the longest tenure in the Championship, last being out of the division in the 2001–02 season when they were relegated from the Premier League.
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).
- 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). The total figures were aided somewhat by the presence of 24 clubs, compared to 20 clubs in both Serie A and Ligue 1, and 18 in the Bundesliga. A major factor to the competition's success comes from television revenue.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 live. Channel 5 show highlights every Saturday night: it shows all the goals plus penalty awards. The BBC had the rights to show 10 first choice live games for the regular season as well as the rights to show a highlight show. The deal is on a three-year contract and is worth £264m that will mostly be paid by Sky. Sky Sports took exclusive live rights to the Football League from 2013, having signed a three-year deal worth £195m, representing a 26% reduction in revenue from the previous joint deal between Sky and BBC. The deal included 75 live league games, all the play-off matches, 15 League Cup ties (including both semi-finals and the final) and selected Johnstone's Paint Trophy matches. The BBC held onto the highlights package. On 5 May 2015, it was announced a deal had been struck with the Football League and Channel 5 to show match footage, including every single goal, from matches in all three divisions of the Football League: this is currently (2017–18 season) broadcast in a 60-minute show titled Football on 5: The Championship which airs at 9.00pm every Saturday, followed by Football on 5: Goal Rush (featuring goals from League One and League Two matches) at 10.00 pm for 30 minutes. (These also air occasionally during the week). Channel 5 will also broadcast highlights of the Capital One Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Local radio stations with a local football team in The Championship usually offer audio coverage of every live game. BBC Sport holds exclusive national rights to broadcast Championship matches live to the whole of the United Kingdom; most matches are broadcast on local BBC radio stations for the area of their respective teams while some headline matches are broadcast on national stations, either 5 Live or 5 Live Sports Extra under their 5 Live Sport banner. Most matches broadcast on BBC radio are also broadcast online to UK users on the BBC website.
talkSPORT also has rights to broadcast each of the Football League Play-off Finals.
- Asia – (except Japan, Indonesia, and Korea) most games are broadcast by Goal
- Australia – beIN Sports (Australia) broadcasts live Championship matches every weekend
- Belgium – Eleven Sports
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sport Klub
- Brazil – ESPN Brasil has exclusive rights to broadcast live two Championship matches every week.
- Bulgaria – Nova Sport broadcasts live two Championship matches every week.
- Canada – beIN Sports and Réseau des sports
- Caribbean – ESPN Caribbean
- Croatia – Sport Klub
- Czech Republic – Arena Sport 1, Digi Sport 2
- France – LequipeTV shows one match a week.
- Germany – sportdigital.tv broadcasts one or two games every week.
- India and the subcontinent, Sony TEN broadcasts some of the matches in Non-HD and HD.
- Indonesia – CPI TV has exclusive rights to broadcast live in a dozent matches, beIN Sports get the match for 100+ broadcasting around as little
- Italian Peninsula – Eurosport as of 2016.
- Japan – J Sports
- Korea – SBS Sports
- Macedonia – Sport Klub
- Mexico – Sky Sports Mexico has exclusive rights to broadcast live two matches, also available in Central America and Dominican Republic.
- Montenegro – Sport Klub
- New Zealand – Sky Sport has exclusive rights to broadcast all matches live or on delay.
- Norway – Eurosport
- Poland – Eleven Sports
- Portugal – Eurosport
- Russia – Eurosport
- South America – DirecTV Sports has exclusive rights to broadcast live two Championship matches every week
- Slovenia – Sport Klub
- Spain – Eurosport
- Sweden – Viasat Sport shows one or two matches a week usually including a 3pm kick off on the Saturday.
- Serbia – Sport Klub
- Slovakia – Arena Sport 1, Digi Sport 2
- Thailand – Modernine TV, MCOT FAMILY
- Norway – Viasat Fotball shows one or two matches a week.
- Romania – ALEX SPORT shows two live matches per week.
- United States – ESPN 3 and BAMTech will broadcast EFL Championship matches starting in 2017.
- Streaming – Betfair and Bet365 both broadcast matches internationally. Betfair notes that the territories to which they are able to stream events varies from sport to sport. Bet365 notes that some events are not permitted to stream within the host country.
The following 24 clubs are competing in the Championship during the 2017–18 season.
League champions, runners-up and play-off finalists
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)
|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)|
Relegated teams (from Premier League to Championship)
|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)|
Promoted teams (from League One to Championship)
- Football League Championship Manager of the Month
- List of English football club owners
- List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues – Championship attendance in a worldwide context