The EFL Championship – Arguably the Most Competitive League in the World
The EFL Championship is the second tier of the English league pyramid and the highest division under English Football League Control. Having come into being in 1888, with the first league played in 1892, it ranks among the oldest organised competitions in the world. It forms part of the most established league system in existence.
Formation of Englands Second Tier Football League
The English league arrangement is well-established and inspired other competitions around the world. The Championship spent precisely a hundred years as the Football League Second Division, only rebranding in 1992 with the launch of the Premier League. It became the Football League First Division, as the top league system under EFL rules, before rebranding once again to the EFL Championship in 2004.
Ambitious Clubs and Sleeping Giants
Even the biggest names in English the English game have spent time in the Championship or its previous incarnations. During the Premier League era, only Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have avoided relegation from the top division, thereby never having played in the Championship. That means that plenty of internationally renowned clubs have spent at least some time in the second tier, including Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In terms of interesting nuggets of football information, Barnsley have played more games in the second tier than anyone else, while former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest have become more closely associated with the Championship than the Premier League.
The relationship between fans and clubs in England is well-known around the world. Unlike many other countries, where it often feels like only the top division matters, Championship clubs can count on tremendous support every time they play. During the 2016/17 season, the EFL Championship boasted the third-highest aggregate attendance in Europe, behind only the Premier League and the Bundesliga.
The Sport’s Richest Game
Each Championship season sees 24 teams compete for promotion. The Premier League is the richest in the world, so all 24 have ambitions to make the step up to the top division. There, they can reap the rewards that come with promotion. The top two gain automatic promotion, while the teams that finish in third, fourth, fifth and six battle it out in the playoffs. Each side plays home and away in a two-legged semi-final before the winners face off at Wembley in what is widely regarded as the richest game in the sport.
The losers are destined for another season in the second tier. The winners gain a lucrative spot in the Premier League and the vast financial rewards that come with it.
Beating the Drop
At the other end of the table, teams compete to avoid relegation to EFL League One. As fans of Portsmouth, Coventry, Sunderland and Bolton have discovered in recent times, a quick return is never guaranteed.
The three lowest finishers in the Championship drop into the third tier, with the top two from League One, along with the playoff winners, taking their place.
Pub quizzes and football information resources are replete with tales of dramatic victories and legendary performances in the Championship, and its reputation as one of the most exciting leagues in the world is richly deserved.