Championship Betting Tips, Predictions & Strategy

The EFL Championship is the English League’s second tier and boasts some of the highest club football attendance figures in the world, beaten only by the Premier League and German Bundesliga. It is also considered one of the most competitive leagues around with any of the 24 sides capable of beating another on a given matchday. There are plenty of twists and turns in the 46 game regular season, with many of the sides holding a realistic chance of promotion to the Premier League.

Here we give you our betting tips on every match from each round of games to guide you through the season, as well as pointers on who to follow in the outright markets. Previews will be available in the days before games are played.

EFL Championship Betting Tips – 30th to 31st October 2020

There is no rest for the wicked, nor for the second tier of English football. Following a full round of midweek clashes, the EFL Championship action gets back underway at St Andrew’s on Friday night, as league leaders Reading travel to Birmingham to take on struggling Coventry City. Elsewhere, Bristol City and Norwich City lock horns at Ashton Gate in a fascinating clash between teams going in opposite directions. Another highlight from the 12 games sees second placed Bournemouth entertain struggling Derby County. Read on for our thoughts and tips on all of the biggest games!

Friday 30th October 2020

Coventry City v Reading

19:45, Sky Sports, St Andrew’s

Rather unexpectedly, previously unheralded and largely unknown Veljko Paunovic has hit the ground running at Reading, guiding the Royals to seven wins from eight Championship matches. They have assumed control of the second tier and are now well fancied to secure promotion. Will the leaders add another three points to their tally when they take on Coventry at St Andrew’s on Friday night? If they do they will move a whopping nine points clear at the top!

The Sky Blues, last season’s EFL League One winners, have had difficult time in the Championship so far. Mark Robins’ side have lost five of their eight fixtures and are currently down in 22nd place. We have to feel that this will be one way traffic and City are likely to suffer another defeat on Friday. Back Reading to win -1 at very nice odds of 7/2.

Saturday 31st October 2020

Bristol City v Norwich City

12:30, Sky Sports, Ashton Gate

Dean Holden’s Bristol City entertain Daniel Farke’s Norwich City at Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon. The Robins will be looking for their first win in five, while the Canaries will stretch their unbeaten run to five with a positive result in Bristol.

After four wins from four, Bristol City have taken just two points from a possible 12 since. In contrast, Norwich have won three and drawn one of their previous four. The teams are currently level on 14 points but morale and confidence very much favours the visitors. With home advantage a diminished factor this term due to the lack of fans our money is on the away win here at 6/5.

Barnsley v Watford

15:00, Oakwell

Valerian Ismael started life at Barnsley with a superb 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in midweek, which was the Tykes’ first league victory of the season. Can Barnsley follow that up with another three points when Watford visit Oakwell on Saturday?

The Hornets have made a steady start, but Vladimir Ivic will be looking for a win this weekend after back-to-back draws. The Tykes will be buzzing after their first league triumph, but Saturday’s game against Watford will be a difficult test for the Yorkshire outfit. We can see the hosts netting in defeat this weekend. Have a punt on the Watford win and both teams to score at what look like excellent value odds of 4/1.

Bournemouth v Derby County

15:00, Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth are unbeaten so far, winning four and drawing four as they bid to make an instant return to the top tier. As for Derby, they have lost five times already when they were expected by many to mount a serious promotion push. Will Jason Tindall’s troops secure an easy win when the two sides clash at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday?

Bournemouth have looked very solid under Tindall so far, while the Rams have tasted victory just once in the Championship this season. We are backing the home team to claim a comfortable win this weekend. You can get the very nice price 6/4 for the Cherries to be winning at half time and full time.

Luton Town v Brentford

15:00, Kenilworth Road

Luton Town entertain Brentford at Kenilworth Road on Saturday. After eight games, the Hatters are above the Bees in the Championship table. Luton have carried on where they left off last term, whilst it appears the visitors may be suffering a bit of a hangover from their failure to clinch promotion to the PL. Can Luton upset Brentford this weekend?

Nathan Jones’ Town have made a good start, winning four times already. Only leaders Reading have picked up more victories up until now. Brentford’s season has yet to take off, as Thomas Frank’s boys have won three, lost three and drawn two. This should be a relatively even contest and so we fancy Luton to hold the Londoners to a draw at Kenilworth Road (5/2).

Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest

15:00, Riverside Stadium

Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough have been hard to beat this season, as his sides so often are, although they have drawn more often than fans would like. In the opposite dugout Chris Hughton is another manager with a lot of experience at this level and he has yet to suffer defeat as Nottingham Forest boss. We should be in for a fascinating fixture when the pair lock horns at the Riverside Stadium this Saturday.

Boro are unbeaten in the league since the opening weekend of the season, winning three and drawing four of their last seven. Since Hughton arrived at the City Ground, Forest have won one and drawn three. Both teams are well organised and solid at the back. They have both drawn 1-1 three times this season and the 1-1 tie on Saturday is available at 5/1.

Millwall v Huddersfield Town

15:00, The Den

In-form Millwall host Huddersfield Town at The Den this Saturday. The Lions are riding high in fourth after picking up an impressive 15 points so far. Will the London side move on to 18 with a home win on Saturday against an opponent that has struggled for consistency thus far?

Carlos Corberan, who previously worked under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds, has had a mixed bag of results at Huddersfield so far, with the Terriers winning three, losing four and drawing one. Millwall have won three of their last four, and they should see off Huddersfield at The Den. The Lions have kept clean sheets in three of their four successes so put some money on the hosts to win to nil on Saturday at 11/5.

Preston North End v Birmingham City

15:00, Deepdale

Alex Neil’s Preston North End have the joint best away record in the league but have lost all four of their home matches so far. The Lilywhites, who have often been superb on home soil in recent years, will be hoping to avoid another home loss when Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City make the trip to Deepdale at the weekend.

Preston cannot seem to buy a win at home for love nor money and perhaps are missing their fans who are usually so vocal. However, they are coming up against a Birmingham team who have yet to win on the road. We fancy North End to finally put three points on the board on home turf. The hosts are priced at 11/10 and despite their results at Deepdale this term we think that is a very solid option here.

Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City

15:00, Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Mark Warburton’s QPR welcome Neil Harris’ Cardiff City to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Saturday. In this fixture last season, the Hoops thumped the Bluebirds 6-1 on New Year’s Day but given their current form it seems highly improbable they will manage anything similar this time around.

Rangers have not won since the opening weekend, taking just four points from their last seven. Cardiff are unbeaten away from home, winning two and drawing two. The Welsh side will be out for revenge in this one and we expect them to get it so back the Cardiff win at 6/4.

Stoke City v Rotherham United

15:00, bet365 Stadium

Stoke City entertain Rotherham United at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday. The Potters were beaten in midweek, while the Millers picked up a stunning 3-0 win over local rivals Sheffield Wednesday. This is a hard one to call and should be a decent clash for the neutrals.

Stoke’s five-game unbeaten run came to an end on Tuesday, as Michael O’Neill’s side were beaten 2-0 by Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. Rotherham claimed their first league win since edging past Wycombe Wanderers on matchday one, and we fancy Paul Warne’s men to battle to a draw in this one. Check out the draw and both teams to score at the very big price of 4/1.

Swansea City v Blackburn Rovers

15:00, Liberty Stadium

Steve Cooper’s Swansea have made a good start to their season and head into this round of fixtures up in third place in the league. The Swans will be looking for another home win when they take on Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers at the Liberty Stadium in midweek. Could this be the year they end their wait to get back into the Premier League?

The Welsh side are sitting pretty in the play-off places at present, having taken 15 points from eight league games. As for Rovers, they are in 12th on 10. Swansea are a tough nut to crack in South Wales, and the Swans will fancy their chances of following up the 2-0 midweek win over Stoke with another three points on home turf this Saturday. The home side are nicely priced at 13/2 to win 2-0 again.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday

15:00, Adams Park

Wycombe made history in midweek, sealing their first ever Championship point after holding Watford to a 1-1 draw at Adams Park. Despite their record of seven losses and one draw they are looking down on the Owls who were, of course, deducted 12 points. This Saturday, the Chairboys host Sheffield Wednesday knowing that if they lose they could very soon find themselves at the foot of the table.

Prior to Tuesday’s draw with the Hornets, Gareth Ainsworth’s men had lost each of their opening seven but they will feel they can build on their first point. After a decent start to their campaign, Garry Monk’s Wednesday have lost three in a row and are facing a long, hard season, still sitting on -4 points. Can Wanderers seal their first Championship victory on Saturday? We think they can and the Wycombe win is available at 3/1, a price we feel is just too big to turn down.

EFL Championship Ante Post Betting Tips 2020-2021

Norwich City Crest at Carrow Road

By Mls11, Wikimedia Commons

The thrills and spills of EFL Championship football get back underway in mid-September after what has been a shorter than normal summer break. After an unforgettable 2019-20 season, we are just about ready to get going again in what could be one of the most sensational promotion races in history as the side battle it out to move up to the Premier League.

The battle for survival went to the wire last season, and we could be in for something similar this time around. Coventry City, Rotherham United and Wycombe Wanderers have been promoted from EFL League One, while Norwich City, Watford and Bournemouth dropped out of the Premier League last term.

The Story Last Season

Leeds United were worthy winners of the Championship last season, with Marcelo Bielsa’s boys chalking up a whopping 93 points to finish 10 points above West Bromwich Albion, who took the second automatic promotion spot. Fulham won the Championship play-offs, beating London rivals Brentford in the final.

At the other end, Hull City finished rock bottom. The Tigers had slim play-off hopes around Christmas but ended up having a woeful second half to their season to drop down to the third tier. Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic (who had points deducted) will join them in League One this season.

Who Will Win the 2020-21 Championship?

The race for the Championship title is as open as ever, as the three relegated teams will all be desperate for an instant return to the Premier League. Also, how will Brentford, Cardiff City and Swansea City react after missing out in last season’s play-offs?

Norwich City – 6/1

Daniel Farke’s Norwich were well out of their depth in the Premier League last term, accumulating a mere 21 points and winning just five times. In the end, the Canaries were 14 points away from safety.

Farke has brought in Oliver Skipp on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, while Xavi Quintilla has arrived from Villarreal. Norwich will have another crack at promotion (at odds of 5/2), and the bookies are pricing them at a reasonable price of 6/1 to win the league.

Brentford – 7/1

Brentford were arguably the best footballing side in the Championship last season. However, it all ended in heartache at Wembley Stadium in early August, as the Bees were beaten by Fulham in the Championship play-off final.

Brentford will start the season in a brand-new home, and the London club are certainly heading in the right direction. At the time of writing, Thomas Frank has managed to keep hold of his best players, which is vital to their Premier League promotion hopes. The Bees are available at odds of 7/1 to win the title and 5/2 for promotion, which might tempt many.

Watford – 8/1

Despite having a real go in the second half of the season, Watford failed to recover from a poor start and were relegated from the Premier League last term. Nigel Pearson was sacked late on, with the Hornets going on to lose their last two games.

Watford are available at odds of 8/1 to win the title and make an instant return to top tier. However, with so many top teams in the Championship this year, promotion at 5/2 looks a far safer bet. There have been wholesale changes at the club, with several players coming in and going out. Watford should be an interesting watch this season but they might lack the consistency that comes with a less erratic club.

Bournemouth – 11/1

Eddie Howe did a remarkable job during his long stay at Bournemouth. However, he parted ways with the Cherries after they were relegated last term, with Jason Tindall taking over at the Vitality Stadium.

Bournemouth could be set for a season of transition after suffering such a blow, but they still have a Premier League squad of players. Also, they received big money from the sales of Nathan Ake and Aaron Ramsdale. Bournemouth are priced at odds of 11/1 to win the league and 7/2 for promotion.

Stoke City – 14/1

Michael O’Neill has done a fine job at Stoke City. Having guided the Potters to safety last term, can the Northern Irishman turn Stoke into promotion contenders this year? You can get City at odds of 14/1 to win the league.

Make no mistake about it, Stoke were in a relegation battle last season. In the end, though, O’Neill’s side finished in a respectable 15th place. The Potters have made several interesting signings, including the capture of Steven Fletcher from Sheffield Wednesday. They look good value for promotion at 7/2 and could be the surprise package of the upcoming campaign.

Cardiff City – 16/1

Cardiff looked nowhere near promotion candidates before Neil Harris arrived in South Wales, but the former Millwall boss turned the Welsh club’s fortunes around. The Bluebirds finished fifth, eventually losing out in the play-off semi-finals to promoted Fulham.

Cardiff are relatively strong at home, but Harris turned them into an excellent away team last season. Can they build on that this year? Kieffer Moore has come in, while Danny Ward has moved out. Cardiff could be outsiders for the title at 16/1, though we like the look of odds of 11/2 for promotion.

Who Could be Relegated?

It was a fascinating race for survival in the Championship last term, with Hull, Wigan and Charlton dropping out of the division. Despite being promoted from League One last season, Coventry have been tipped to survive. However, the bookies fancy Wycombe and Rotherham to struggle.

Wycombe Wanderers – 4/6

Wycombe will be playing second tier for the first time in their history. The popular Gareth Ainsworth guided the Chairboys to promotion via the play-offs last term. However, the hard work starts here.

Wanderers have made a couple of smart signings over the summer, with Uche Ikpeazu joining from Hearts. At the time of writing though Wycombe are the only club who are odds-on for relegation, with the bookmakers pricing them at 4/6.

Rotherham United – 2/1

Rotherham are back in the Championship after finishing runners-up to Coventry. 62 points from 35 games proved to be enough for Paul Warne’s men. Can the Millers stay in the second tier this time around?

Rotherham have been very busy in the transfer market, with the arrival of Wes Harding from Birmingham City catching the eye. This will surely be another tough season in the Championship for United, who are available at a price of 2/1 for the drop.

Sheffield Wednesday – 5/2

Sheffield Wednesday could be set for a season of struggle in the Championship. They have been quiet in the transfer market, as the pressure mounts on manager Garry Monk to bring in some new faces before the window slams shut.

Wednesday are priced at 1/3 to stay in the division but we prefer the odds of 5/2 for the Owls to drop down to League One. Monk has a big job on his hands at Hillsborough this season and if they don’t get off to a decent start it could prove to be a very tricky campaign.

Luton Town – 10/3

Luton Town looked nailed on for relegation practically the entire 2019-20 season. That was until Nathan Jones re-joined the club. Jones worked his magic at Kenilworth Road once again, guiding the Hatters to safety on the final day of the season.

Of course, Luton could be in for another hard season in the second tier, but have they got what it takes to survive once again, which is priced at odds of just 1/7? If you do fancy Town to be relegated, the best odds you can get are 10/3.

Reading – 10/3

After a couple of near misses, 14th place for Reading last season was pretty decent going. Mark Bowen has had plenty of time to settle in at the Madejski Stadium, and the Royals will be hoping to build on last season’s finish.

It has been a quiet summer so far, though, which is probably why Reading are among the favourites for relegation at 10/3 – you can get them at odds of 1/8 to stay up. It will be interesting to see how the Royals get on under Bowen this time around.

Queens Park Rangers – 4/1

Mark Warburton’s Queens Park Rangers are arguably one of the most unpredictable sides in the division. On their day, the Londoners can beat anyone in the Championship, but they had their fair share of woeful results and performances last term.

At the moment, Rangers are available at 4/1 to drop down to League One at the end of the campaign, while you can get them at 1/9 to stay in the Championship. They have yet to replace Nahki Wells, while Jordan Hugill returned to West Ham United before later signing for Norwich. QPR could be in for a tricky campaign.

Championship Betting Strategy & Tips

The EFL Championship is the second tier of professional men’s football in England. Over the years it has had many different names, including the Second Division and, perhaps a little more confusingly, the First Division. The latter name makes sense within the context of the English Football League, with the Championship being the highest level of football within the EFL. The Football League Championship took on its current moniker in 2016 and, to stop everyone from becoming completely confused, we rather hope it sticks to that name!

Structure of the Championship

Football Tackle in Rain

Call it what you will, but as that famous box to box midfielder (not really!) of ye olde times William Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. When it comes to the Championship, old Bill might have said “Division 2 by any other name would still be as fast, frenetic, fiendishly and fiercely competitive and attract crowds the size of which put many of Europe’s other leagues to shame”. Or words to that effect.

We’ve already established that the EFL Championship is the division below the Premier League. Now let’s take a look at its structure, format and some of the keys dates on its calendar. In common with most of the top leagues in Western Europe, the Championship generally runs from August to May. Again, in keeping with most other second tiers, it features promotion and relegation and, as with all levels of UK football, there is, as of 2020-21, no winter break.

For such an important and powerful league, the Championship consists of a lot of teams. A relatively bloated number of 24 sides ply their trade in England’s second tier, whereas, for example, there are only 20 clubs in Serie B at the time of writing and only 18 in the German second division.

Chart Showing Comparing the Number of Teams in the Big Five League's Second Tier Division

Teams play home and away, creating a standard season of 46 games per club and 552 matches in total. At the end of this football marathon, the top two sides gain automatic promotion into the Premier League. The bottom three are relegated into League One, whilst the four clubs finishing third to sixth go into the play-offs.

Championship Play-Offs

After the regular league has finished there is still one huge prize up for grabs as the best four non-promoted teams battle it out for one final Premier League place. The teams finishing third and sixth, and fourth and fifth, meet home and away in a two-legged play-off semi.

The two sides prevailing in the semis head to Wembley at the end of May to meet in the crucial Championship play-off final. Often dubbed “the richest game in football”, in 2018 it was said that victory for Fulham would be worth at least £160m to the club. That huge figure would rise to a whopping £280m, according to football finance experts Deloitte, if Fulham can stay in the top flight for at least another campaign.

Key Dates

Note that the dates below are based on the 2018-19 EFL Championship. The exact dates will change from season to season but these can be used as a rough guide.

  • Fixtures for new season released – 21st August 2020
  • Regular season starts – 11th September 2020
  • Regular season ends – 8th/9th May 2021
  • Play-off final – 29th/31st May 2021
  • Summer transfer window opens – 27th July 2020
  • Summer window closes for domestic transfers – 16th October 2020 at 5pm
  • Summer window closes for international transfers – 5th October 2020 at 11pm
  • Loan transfers – available in and out until 16th October 2020 (tbc)
  • Winter transfer window – runs from 1st to 31st January 2021

Betting on the Championship

Coral Championship Betting Screenshot

Betting on the Championship is huge business. This should come as no surprise because the UK is the world’s biggest regulated gambling market; football is the most wagered on sport in the UK; and the Championship is the second most important division in the UK (apologies to Scottish football, but it’s true!).

The range of markets on the EFL Championship and the overall betting coverage is right up there with the Premier League. There isn’t quite the same depth of markets and betting options but it certainly isn’t far behind.

When it comes to betting on the Championship, most of the tips within our main football betting strategy guide apply. In short, that means that looking for value is key and that studying as much information and data as possible is the best way to try and find bets where the odds are in your favour.

Looking at stats is a great way to try and pick your bets, although it’s always worth remembering that usually the odds are reflective of such publicly available information. None the less, stats and trends are fluid and so if you can get on an emerging trend early you may be able to find some great value whilst the rest of the market – and the bookies – catch up.

Home Advantage

Brentford Griffin Park

By Andreas Praefcke, Wikimedia Commons

Home advantage is often thought to be a big factor in deciding which team will win. However, the fact of the matter is that the benefit of home advantage has been diminishing steadily for a long time. All the way back in 1896, home sides won a whopping 65% of games in the Football League.

In 2015/16 this had dropped to just 41% over the top four tiers of English football, a relative drop of 37%. In other words, home advantage was over 1/3 less powerful. In the Championship, on average sides win around 48% of their home games if we look at the last few years.

In the 2019/20 season, champions Leeds United won 15 of their 23 home games (65%), as did play-off final winners Fulham. Runners-up West Brom however, won 10 home games that season (43%). Just four sides, Leeds, Fulham, Brentford and Preston, took three points at home in more than half of their games, leaving the other 18 winning less than half of their games on home turf.  most sides took three points less than half of the time. Birmingham City and Middlesbrough won just six times at home each where as relegated Hull City picked up the least home points with 24.

Goals

Football Ball in Net

When it comes to Championship football most people think of exciting, end-to-end games with lots of action and goals galore. As said, trends change over time, but looking at the most recent complete campaign, 2019/20, those looking to bet on goals should note the following:

  • No goals (0-0 draw) – there were only 31 0-0 draws, landing just in just 5.6% of matches
  • Over 0.5 goals – this bet would win 94.4% of the time
  • Over 1.5 goals – 73.6% of Championship games last term saw two or more goals
  • Over 2.5 – the most popular overs bet landed 49.2% of the time
  • Over 3.5 – 26.4% of matches saw four or more goals
  • Over 4.5 – back overs here and you would have won 11.8% of your bets
  • BTTS – BTTS was a winner in 53.1% of 2019/20 Championship clashes
  • Win to nil – 41.3% of games saw a side win to nil

As said, the bookies are usually well aware of the main trends, so you usually have to work a bit harder to uncover some real value. However, it’s worth noting that within overall league trends, you will often find some real outliers in terms of individual teams and if you can get on these early you could well make a killing.

Again, considering the 2019/20 season, whilst both teams scored in over 53% of matches overall, in QPR, Derby and Luton games this figure leaps to almost 61%. At the other end of the scale, “BTTS – no” was a winner in 63% of games involving Champions Leeds United.

Chart That Shows the Percentage of Both Teams To Score Matches in the Championship by Club During the 219/20 Season

Perhaps the most lucrative bet last term was to back over 4.5 goals in Hull’s Championship matches. Hull were poor last term, finishing 18th and they conceded and scored a lot of goals. However, with the odds for over 4.5 goals usually being around the 4/1 mark, even for games where many goals are likely, Hull would have yielded a remarkable profit.

Over 4.5 goals was a winner in 20% of Blackburn’s games, almost a quarter. That really was a huge number of high scoring games. The next highest in the Championship was Luton’s 17% and the lowest was Charlton Athletic, with just one their matches seeing five or more goals, the 3-2 home Boxing Day victory over Bristol City.

Stats and Trivia

Want to impress your Championship-loving talking cat with some dandy football stats? Does the future love of your life look like she’d be wooed by a bit of second tier trivia? Or are you just a bit of a football nerd? Whatever your motivation for picking up some Championship trifles, we’ve got 10 great facts sure to wow even the geekiest of geeks!

  1. Macedonia – the Championship’s appeal is huge and games are broadcast live in Macedonia (not to mention Brazil, Kosovo, South Korea and loads of other countries)
  2. Dark Days – Rotherham won just 23 points from their 46 games in the 2016-17 campaign
  3. The Championship is Home – Rotherham’s neighbours Barnsley have spent longer in the second tier than any other side, becoming the first club to play 3,000 games in the division
  4. Draw Kings – Southampton and Swansea (separately) have both drawn eight games in a row in the Championship
  5. Double Trouble – when the Second Division, as it was called in 1892, was created, there were 12 clubs, half the current total of 24
  6. Better Than La Liga and Serie A – not on the pitch but off it, maybe. In the 2016-17 season the Championship was better attended than the top divisions in Spain, Italy and France
  7. Major But not THAT Major – the Championship’s attendances put it ninth on a list of global leagues in terms of total attendances. However, the 11m aggregate is some way behind the 70m achieved by Major League Baseball!
  8. Striker – in the Premier League era, the most goals scored in a second tier campaign by a single player is 42. Guy Whittingham achieved that in 1992-93 and the next best is just 31
  9. Striker MK II – since 2004-05, when the Championship became the Championship, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is the only player to have been top scorer in more than one season
  10. Gaffer – in the same era, promotion specialist Neil Warnock has won the Manager of the Month award the most times. Warnock’s 10 were achieved with Cardiff, QPR, Sheffield United, Crystal palace and Rotherham

History

Vintage England Flag

Now we’ve sated you stats fans, let’s give the history buffs a little information on the second rung of the English football ladder. We’ve touched on much of this already but here in chronological order is a concise history of the division.

The Football League Second Division was created in 1892 and operated under that moniker for 100 years until 1992. It came about following a meeting in 1888, at which the director of Aston Villa, a Scotsman called William McGregor, hoped to create an organised league.

The Football League was established following this meeting and soon after the rival, but little known, Football Alliance was also created. In 1892 the two merged, creating the Football League and the Football League Second Division.

Both divisions would have 12 teams and the founder members of the Second Division, nine of whom had been in the lesser Football Alliance, were:

Club Year Formed Home Ground
Ardwick* 1880 Hyde Road
Bootle 1879 Hawthorne Road
Burton Swifts 1871 Peel Croft
Crewe Alexandra 1877 Alexandra Recreation Ground
Darwen 1870 Barley Bank
Grimsby Town 1878 Abbey Park
Lincoln City 1884 John O’Gaunts
Northwich Victoria 1874 Drill Field
Burslem Port Vale 1876 Cobridge Athletic Ground
Sheffield United 1889 Bramall Lane
Small Heath** 1875 Muntz Street
Walsall Town Swifts 1888 The Chuckery

*Ardwick became Manchester City, **Small Heath became Birmingham City

The number of teams in the second tier gradually grew, first going to 15 in its second season, before 16 in 1894. This became 18 in 1898, 20 in 1905, 22 in 1919, 23 in 1987, before settling on the current 24 in 1988.

The exact format of the league has changed very little after promotion and relegation were established relatively early on. There have been some minor changes but the biggest alterations were simply cosmetic.

When the Premier League was created for the 1992-93 season, the Second Division changed its name to the Football League First Division. This lasted until 2004, when the competition became known as the Football League Championship.

In 2016 the Football League took the decision to re-brand as the English Football League and so thus the English Football League Championship was born. But, as you might have heard, a rose by any other name…