The English Football Championship, more commonly known as the Championship, is the second highest division in the English Football League (EFL) system. Ranked amongst the best football competitions in Europe, the Championship is considered to be the richest non-top-flight football league in the world, and is the seventh-richest league in Europe. Three teams from the Championship receive promotion to the lucrative Premier League every year, which is one of the many reasons why this league is so popular! The Championship Playoff final, held anually at Wembley, is widely regarded as the richest game in football, with last year’s winners Aston Villa earning £170 from the game.
24 teams compete for the three promotions places over the course of the Championship season, with every side playing each other twice - home and away. At the end of 522 regular season matches, the team that finishes first are crowned Champions and earn automatic promotion alongside the team that finishes second. The three teams that finish at the bottom of the table are relegated to the next division, League One. The four teams that finish between third and sixth place enter the Championship Playoffs, where the third-place team plays the sixth-placed, and the fourth-placed faces off against the fifth-placed in a two legged Semi-Final (home and away). The winners of each match will then go head-to-head in the Playoff Final, in a battle to secure the final Premier League promotion spot.
Since the team that wins the Championship receives promotion to the Premier League, it is rare that you find teams with multiple titles to their name - which explains why Newcastle, Reading, Sunderland and Wolves are all tied with the most Championship wins to their name (two apiece). Barnsley has spent more time in this division than any other club, and became the first team to notch up 1,000 wins in the Championship. The fierceness of the league combined with the financial incentive of promotion makes this league a bettor’s delight. Between the quality of the football, the atmosphere in the stands and the passion of the players - what more could you ask for!
The English Championship is known for having its own charm, and thanks to its commercial success it attracts quality players from around the world. Season after season, this second-tier English football league sees plenty of action, and the race for promotion often keeps spectators on the edge of their seats until the final days of the competition.
Over the course of the 2018/19 season 557 matches were played, including the Playoffs, which produced a total of 1,471 goals - which averages out at 2.67 goals per game. Known to be a high-scoring league, 50% of matches last season saw over 2.5 goals - which as a bettor is a great market to keep and eye on. In a league as prolific as the Championship, the ‘over 2.5’ and ‘over 3.5’ markets will be interesting for you to keep your eye on.
How about choosing the winner of the Championship? Probably one of the most open leagues in European football, every match of the Championship is highly competitive, with very little to choose between sides. In general, it is the home team that emerges victorious, 44% of the time last season in fact, however the margin between home and away wins is not particularly substantial - the visitors were successful in 29% of games over the course of the 2018/19 season.
Another important statistic to keep in mind is that both teams scored in over half of all games in the last edition of the Championship. A lucrative pick, with both teams finding the back of the net in 54% of matches over the course of a long season. It may also be interesting to keep an eye on the goal times in Championship games, with 41% of all goals scored finding the net within the final half hour of the game. No wonder Championship games keep you hooked until the final whistle!
While it is uncommon for teams to earn back their place in the Premier League after just one season in the Championship, Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield will all be closely watched over the course of the upcoming season. Last year’s Playoff semi-finalists Leeds, Derby and West Brom will be the main contenders for promotion spots - having fallen just short last season, 2020 could be the year that they take their chances. New signings on the summer transfer market will likely have an impact on many teams prospects - there’s a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season.
Winner: Norwich won their fourth Championship title in the 2018-19 season, allowing them to secure automatic promotion for next season’s Premier League. They will be joined by Sheffield United and Playoff winners Aston Villa in the top-tier of English football.
Relegated: Rotherham United, Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich town finished in the bottom three, and were relegated to League One for next season.
Promoted: Luton Town and Barnsley received automatic promotion to the Championship by finishing in the top two of EFL League One, while Oldham Athletic were the victors of the League One Playoffs. These three sides will replace the three relegated sides in the Championship next season.