|Country||England (22 teams)|
|Other club(s) from||Wales (2 teams)|
|Number of teams||24|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Premier League|
|Relegation to||League One|
|Current champions||Fulham (1st title) |
|TV partners||List of broadcasters|
|Current: 2022–23 EFL Championship|
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.
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.
Barnsley have spent more seasons in this division than any other team, with Birmingham City currently holding the longest tenure in this division, only 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 and also the first club to play 3,000 games in second-level English league football (W1028, D747, L1224).
For its history between 1892 and 1992, see Football League Second Division. For its history between 1992 and 2004, see Football League First Division.
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 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 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.
Burnley, who finished fifth in 2009, defeated Sheffield United to earn their first season in the newly-branded Premier League, last being in the Football League First Division in 1976.
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 18 July 2013, UK bookmaker Sky Bet announced that they signed a five-year agreement to sponsor the league.
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 re-branded 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, being 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.
The EFL Championship took a four-week break in November and December 2022 for the winter World Cup.
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 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.
The following 24 clubs will compete in the EFL Championship during the 2022–23 season.
|Club||Finishing position last season||Location||Stadium||Capacity|
|Birmingham City||20th||Birmingham||St Andrew's Stadium||29,409|
|Blackburn Rovers||8th||Blackburn||Ewood Park||31,367|
|Bristol City||17th||Bristol||Ashton Gate||27,000|
|Burnley||18th in Premier League (relegated)||Burnley||Turf Moor||21,944|
|Cardiff City||18th||Cardiff||Cardiff City Stadium||33,316|
|Coventry City||12th||Coventry||Coventry Building Society Arena||32,609|
|Huddersfield Town||3rd||Huddersfield||John Smith's Stadium||24,121|
|Hull City||19th||Kingston upon Hull||MKM Stadium||25,400|
|Luton Town||6th||Luton||Kenilworth Road||10,356|
|Millwall||9th||London (South Bermondsey)||The Den||20,146|
|Norwich City||20th in Premier League (relegated)||Norwich||Carrow Road||27,244|
|Preston North End||13th||Preston||Deepdale||23,408|
|Queens Park Rangers||11th||London (Shepherd's Bush)||Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium||18,360|
|Reading||21st||Reading||Select Car Leasing Stadium||24,200|
|Rotherham United||2nd in League One (promoted)||Rotherham||New York Stadium||12,021|
|Sheffield United||5th||Sheffield||Bramall Lane||32,050|
|Stoke City||14th||Stoke-on-Trent||bet365 Stadium||30,089|
|Sunderland||5th in League One (promoted via play-offs)||Sunderland||Stadium of Light||49,000|
|Swansea City||15th||Swansea||Liberty Stadium||21,088|
|Watford||19th in Premier League (relegated)||Watford||Vicarage Road||22,200|
|West Bromwich Albion||10th||West Bromwich||The Hawthorns||26,688|
|Wigan Athletic||1st in League One (promoted)||Wigan||DW Stadium||25,133|
See also: List of winners of the EFL Championship and predecessors
|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 Albion2 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)|
|2019–20||Leeds United 93||West Bromwich Albion 83||Fulham 81 (4th)||2–1 (a.e.t.)||Brentford 81 (3rd)|
|2020–21||Norwich City 97||Watford 91||Brentford 87 (3rd)||2–0||Swansea City 80 (4th)|
|2021–22||Fulham 90||Bournemouth 88||Nottingham Forest 80 (4th)||1–0||Huddersfield Town 82 (3rd)|
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
|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)|
|2019–20||Charlton Athletic (48), Wigan Athletic (47), Hull City (45)|
|2020–21||Wycombe Wanderers (43), Rotherham United (42), Sheffield Wednesday (41)|
|2021–22||Peterborough United (37), Derby County (34), Barnsley (30)|
|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 (16)|
|2019–20||Bournemouth (34), Watford (34), Norwich City (21)|
|2020–21||Fulham (28), West Bromwich Albion (26), Sheffield United (23)|
|2021–22||Burnley (35), Watford (23), Norwich City (22)|
|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)|
|2019–20||Coventry City (88.71), Rotherham United (77.94), Wycombe Wanderers (Play-off winners) (76.35)|
|2020–21||Hull City (89), Peterborough United (87), Blackpool (Play-off winners) (80)|
|2021–22||Wigan Athletic (92), Rotherham United (90), Sunderland (Play-off winners) (84)|
|2004–05||Nathan Ellington||Wigan Athletic||24|
|2006–07||Jamie Cureton||Colchester United||23|
|2007–08||Sylvan Ebanks-Blake||Plymouth Argyle
|2008–09||Sylvan Ebanks-Blake||Wolverhampton Wanderers||25|
|2009–10||Peter Whittingham||Cardiff City||20|
|Nicky Maynard||Bristol City|
|2012–13||Glenn Murray||Crystal Palace||30|
|2013–14||Ross McCormack||Leeds United||28|
|2014–15||Daryl Murphy||Ipswich Town||27|
|2016–17||Chris Wood||Leeds United||27|
|2017–18||Matěj Vydra||Derby County||21|
|2018–19||Teemu Pukki||Norwich City||29|
The EFL Championship is the second most-watched second-tier domestic sports league in the World, behind the German 2. Bundesliga (20,372), with an average of 18,585 spectators per game in the 2019–20 season. The EFL Championship was the seventh most-watched domestic football league in Europe in 2019-20, behind the Premier League, Bundesliga (1 and 2), La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1. In the 2016–17 season, the EFL Championship was the third most watched domestic league in Europe, behind the Premier League and the 1. Bundesliga.
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 |
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 2022–23 Premier League. Cardiff City and Derby County have both spent the longest in the league with 17 seasons each. 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 has been a Championship team for eleven consecutive seasons. 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 five teams (Newcastle United, Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Reading and Norwich City) having won it twice.
Norwich City has been promoted out of the Championship on four occasions, with five teams (Burnley, Fulham, Hull City, Watford, West Brom) having been promoted on three occasions. Rotherham United has been relegated from the Championship on four occasions, with three teams (Barnsley, Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic) having been relegated on three occasions. 14 teams have been both promoted out of and relegated from the Championship.
|Club||Total Seasons||Number of Spells||Longest Spell (Seasons)||Highest Position||Lowest Position||Season|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||8||2||6||2||24||20||24||10||4||6||20||3||2|
|Milton Keynes Dons||1||1||1||23||23||23|
|Preston North End||15||2||8||4||22||5||4||7||15||6||17||22||11||11||7||14||9||13||13||-|
|Queens Park Rangers||16||3||8||1||21||11||21||18||14||11||13||1||4||12||18||16||19||13||9||11||-|
|West Bromwich Albion||7||4||2||1||10||4||1||2||4||2||10||-|
|West Ham United||2||2||1||3||6||6||3|
Barnsley became the first team to play 3,000 games in second level league football.
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).