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The Football League
The Football League.png
Countries England England
Wales Wales
Confederation UEFA
Founded 1888
Divisions Football League Championship
Football League One
Football League Two
Number of teams 72 (24 in each division)
Promotion to Premier League
Relegation to Football Conference
Levels on pyramid 2-4
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup, Football League Cup
Football League Trophy[1]
International cup(s) UEFA Europa League[2]
Current champions Wolverhampton Wanderers (2008–09)
TV partners BBC (Live & Highlights) & BSkyB (Live)
Website http://www.football-league.co.uk/
2009–10 Football League

The Football League, also known as the Coca-Cola Football League for sponsorship reasons, is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888, it is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League.

Since 1995 it has had 72 clubs evenly divided into three divisions, which are currently known as The Championship, League One, and League Two. Promotion and relegation between these divisions is a central feature of the League and is further extended to allow the top Championship clubs to exchange places with the lowest placed clubs in the Premier League, and the bottom clubs of League Two to switch with the top clubs of the Football Conference, thus integrating the League into the English football league system. Although primarily a competition for English clubs, two clubs from Wales also take part, while in the past Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Town and Aberdare Athletic have been members.

The Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition, and this body also organises two knock-out cup competitions, the Football League Cup and the Football League Trophy.

Contents

Overview

The Football League consists of 72 professional football clubs in England Wales, and Ireland.It runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It also organises two knockout cup competitions. The Football League was founded in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor, originally with 12 member clubs. Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant that by 1950 the League had 92 clubs. Financial considerations led to a major shake-up in 1992 when, in a step to maximise their revenue, the leading members of the Football League broke away to form their own competition, the FA Premier League, which was renamed in 2007 as the Premier League. The Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total, 130 teams have played in the Football League[3] up to 2007 (including those in the Premier League, since clubs must pass through the Football League before reaching the former).

Competition

League

The Football League's 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions: the Football League Championship, Football League One, and Football League Two (previously the Football League First Division, Football League Second Division and Football League Third Division respectively; they were renamed for sponsorship reasons). Each division has 24 clubs, and in any given season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents. This makes for a total of 46 games played each season.

Clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the next higher division, while those at the bottom may be relegated to the next lower one. At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from The Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places. At the lower end, two League Two clubs lose their Football League status with relegation to the National division of the Football Conference, while two teams from Conference National join League Two of The Football League in their stead.

Division Promoted directly Promoted via playoffs Relegated
The Championship Top 2 clubs One from 3rd to 6th place finishers Bottom 3 clubs
League One Top 2 clubs One from 3rd to 6th place finishers Bottom 4 clubs
League Two Top 3 clubs One from 4th to 7th place finishers Bottom 2 clubs

Promotion and relegation are determined by final league positions, but to sustain interest for more clubs over the length of the season one promotion place from each division is decided according to a playoff between four clubs, which takes place at the end of the season. It is therefore possible for a team finishing sixth in the Championship or League One, or seventh in League Two, to be promoted rather than the clubs finishing immediately above them in the standings.

Two professional football clubs from Wales, Cardiff City and Swansea City, play in The Football League. This disqualifies them from participation in the Welsh Premier League and the Welsh Cup, and so also deprives them of the chance to qualify for UEFA competitions by this route. One English club, Berwick Rangers, plays in the Scottish football league system.

Reserve teams of Football League clubs usually play in the Central League (for the Midlands and North) or the Football Combination (for the South).

Cup

The Football League organises two knock-out cup competitions: the Football League Cup (currently called the Carling Cup) and the Football League Trophy (or for sponsorship reasons, the Johnstone's Paint Trophy). The League Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all Football League and Premier League clubs, with the winner eligible to participate in the UEFA Europa League. The Football League Trophy is for clubs belonging to League One and League Two of the Football League. The Football League celebrated its 100th birthday in 1988 with a Centenary Tournament at Wembley between 16 of its member clubs.

History

William McGregor, founder of The Football League

After four years of debate, The Football Association finally legalised professionalism on 20 July 1885. Before that date many clubs made illegal payments to "professional" players to boost the competitiveness of their teams, arousing the contempt of those clubs abiding by the laws of the amateur Football Association code.[citation needed] As more and more clubs became professional the ad-hoc fixture list of FA Cup, inter-county, and 'friendly' matches was seen by many as an unreliable stream of revenue, and ways were considered of ensuring a consistent income.

A Scottish draper and director of Aston Villa, William McGregor, was the first to set out to bring some order to a chaotic world where clubs arranged their own fixtures. On 2 March 1888, he wrote to the committee of his own club, Aston Villa, as well as to those of Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion, suggesting the creation of a league competition that would provide a number of guaranteed fixtures for its member clubs each season. His idea may have been based upon a description of a proposal for an early American college football league, publicised in the English media in 1887 which stated: "measures would be taken to form a new football league.... [consisting of] a schedule containing two championship games between every two colleges composing the league"[4][5]

The first meeting was held at Anderson's Hotel in London on 23 March 1888 on the eve of the FA Cup Final. The Football League was formally created and named in Manchester at a further meeting on 17 April at the Royal Hotel. Although the hotel is long gone, the site is marked with a commemorative red plaque on The Royal Buildings in Market Street. The first season of the Football League began a few months later on 8 September with 12 member clubs (Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers ).

Each club played the other twice, once at home and once away, and two points were awarded for a win and one for a draw. This points system was not agreed upon until after the season had started; the alternative proposal was one point for a win only. Preston won the first league title without losing a game, and completed the first league-cup double by also taking the FA Cup.

The early years of the League saw the addition of more clubs, and a new Second Division was formed in 1892 with the absorption of the rival Football Alliance. The bottom clubs of the lower division were required to apply for re-election to the League at the end of each season. Automatic promotion and relegation for two clubs was introduced after the League expanded to two divisions of eighteen in 1898; this came into effect when the previous system of test matches between the bottom two clubs of the First Division and the top two clubs of the Second Division was brought in to disrepute when Stoke and Burnley colluded in the final match to ensure they were both in the First Division the next season.

The original logo of The Football League

Aston Villa and Sunderland dominated the early years of the game, but after a few years other northern clubs began to catch up, with the likes of Newcastle United and Manchester United joining the League and having success. Liverpool won the first of their joint record (with Manchester United) 18 League titles in 1901. It was not until the early years of the 20th century that southern clubs such as Arsenal, Fulham, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur established themselves in the League, and there would be a further wait until 1931 before a southern club, Arsenal, would win the League for the first time. Unlike most other Leagues in Europe no single English club managed to remain an ever present in the division during the one hundred and four years of its existence as the top division in the country. Everton comes closest, missing just four seasons through relegation and remain the only club in England to have played over one hundred top flight seasons. Everton, and their city rivals Liverpool also share the record of being the only two clubs in England never to have gone more than a quarter of a century without being crowned champions.

Post-World War I

The League was suspended for four seasons during World War I and resumed in 1919 with the First and Second Divisions expanded to 22 clubs. The following year, 1920, leading clubs from the Southern League joined the League to form a new Third Division, which in 1921 was renamed the Third Division South upon the further addition of more clubs in a new Third Division North. One club from each of these divisions would gain promotion to the Second Division, with the two relegated clubs being assigned to the more appropriate Third Division. To accommodate potential difficulties in this arrangement, clubs in the Midlands such as Mansfield Town or Walsall would sometimes be moved from one Third Division to the other.

Following this burst of post-war growth, the League entered into a prolonged period of relative stability with few changes in the membership, although there were changes on the pitch. A new offside law in 1925 reducing the number of opponents between the player and the goal from three to two led to a large increase in goals and numbers on shirts were introduced in 1939.

Post-World War II

The League was suspended once more in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II, this time for seven seasons. The Third Divisions were expanded to 24 clubs each in 1950, bringing the total number of League clubs to 92, and in 1958 the decision was made to end the regionalisation of the Third Divisions and reorganise the clubs into a new nationwide Third Division and Fourth Division. To accomplish this the clubs in the top half of both the Third Division North and South joined together to form the new Third Division, and those in the bottom half made up the Fourth Division. Four clubs were promoted and relegated between these two lower divisions, while two clubs exchanged places in the upper divisions until 1974, when the number increased to three.

Post-World War II changes in league included the use of white balls in 1951 and the first floodlit game (played between Portsmouth and Newcastle United) in 1956, opening up the possibility of midweek evening matches.

But by far the biggest change for league clubs was a new cup competition open to all the members of the League, the Football League Cup, which was held for the first time in 1960-61 to provide clubs a new source of income. Aston Villa won the inaugural League Cup and, despite an initial lack of enthusiasm on the part of some other big clubs, the competition became firmly established in the footballing calendar. Substitutes were first allowed for injured players in 1965, and for any reason the next year.

1970s

Beginning with the 1976–77 season, clubs finishing level on points began to be separated according to goal difference (the difference between goals scored and goals conceded) rather than goal average (goals scored divided by goals conceded). This was an effort to prevent overly defensive play encouraged by the greater advantage in limiting goals allowed. In the event that clubs had equal points and equal goal differences, priority was given to the club that had scored the most goals. There has been only one season, 1988–89, when this level of differentiation was necessary to determine the League champion, and this was the occasion of one of the most dramatic nights in League history, when Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–0 at Anfield in the last game of the season to win the League on this tiebreaker – by a single Michael Thomas goal in the final minute, of the final game of the season.

The logo of The Football League from 1988 until 2004

1980s

Another important change was made in 1981, when it was decided to award three points for a win instead of two, a further effort to increase attacking football. (This scoring rule was not added by FIFA to the World Cups until the 1994 cup after the perceived dominance of defensive play at Italia 90) In a similar vein, playoffs to determine promotion places were introduced in 1987 so that more clubs remained eligible for promotion closer to the end of the season, and at the same time to aid in the reduction over two years of the number of clubs in the First Division from 22 to 20. At the same time, automatic promotion and relegation between the Fourth Division and the Football Conference was introduced for one club, replacing the annual application for re-election to the League of the bottom four clubs and linking the League to the developing National League System pyramid. Emblematic of the confusion that was beginning to envelop the game, the number of clubs at the top of the league would return to 22 for the 1991–92 season, before once more dropping to 20 for 1995–96. The League also expanded to 93 clubs for the 1991–92 season and planned to raise the number again to 94 clubs for 1992–93, but after Aldershot and Maidstone United both went out of business within a few months of each other in mid-1992, this plan was abandoned and the League reverted to a 92 club membership. The issues creating the uncertainty in the game all centred on money.

The increasing influence of money in English football was evident with such events as the first £1m transfer in the game, that of Trevor Francis from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest in February 1979. The first £2million player was Tony Cottee (West Ham United to Everton, July 1988). Prior to the formation of the FA Premier League, the highest transfer fee paid was £2.9million for the transfer of Dean Saunders from Derby County to Liverpool during the 1991 close season. The first £3million player was Alan Shearer, who moved from Southampton to Blackburn Rovers in July 1992, the summer prior to the first Premier League season. At the close of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league was tabled that would bring more money into the game overall. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game's top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League.[6] The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. The argument given at the time was that the extra income would allow English clubs to compete with teams across Europe.[7]

1992: the foundation of the Premier League

In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association's then headquarters in Lancaster Gate.[8] This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.

2004 Football League rebranding

2004–05 was the first season to feature the rebranded Football League. The First Division, Second Division and Third Division were renamed the Football League Championship, Football League One and Football League Two respectively. Coca-Cola replaced the Nationwide Building Society as title sponsor.

The Football League's collection is held by the National Football Museum.

Records

League sponsorship

Since 1983 the League has accepted lucrative sponsorships for its main competition. Below is a list of sponsors and the League's name under their sponsorship:

Post formation of the Premier League the newly slimmed-down football League (70 club until 1995 and 72 clubs since) renamed its divisions to reflect the changes. The old Second Division became the new First Division, the Third Division became the Second Division, and the Fourth Division became the Third Division. The financial health of its clubs has become perhaps the highest League priority due to the limited resources available. However there are some promising signs for the future, as the League planned to announce new initiatives beginning with the 2004–05 season, coinciding with the start of a new sponsorship agreement with Coca-Cola. The first of these changes was a rebranding of the League with the renaming of the First Division to The Championship, the Second Division to League One and the Third Division to League Two.
The League's cup competitions have different sponsors (see English football sponsorship for more information).

Media rights

The other major source of revenue is television. The 1980s saw competition between terrestrial broadcasters for the rights to show League matches, but the arrival on the scene of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting (Sky TV), eagerly searching for attractive programming to build its customer base and willing to pay huge sums, changed the picture entirely. The League's top tier clubs had been agitating for several years to be able to keep more of the League's revenue for themselves, threatening to break away and form their own league if necessary. In 1992 the threat was realised as the First Division clubs left to establish the FA Premier League and signed a contract for exclusive live coverage of their games with Sky TV. The FA Premier League agreed to maintain the promotion and relegation of three clubs with The Football League, but The League was now in a far weaker position — without its best clubs and without the clout to negotiate high revenue TV deals. This problem was exacerbated with the collapse in 2002 of ITV Digital, holder of TV rights for The Football League, which cost League clubs millions of pounds in revenue.

In 2001 the league signed a £315 million deal with ITV Digital, but in March 2002 the channel was put into administration by its parent companies when the league refused to accept a £130 million reduction in the deal. As of 2007, UK television rights are held by Sky Sports. In November 2007 the league announced a new domestic rights deal worth £264 million with Sky and the BBC for the three seasons from 2009-2012. It covers Football League, Carling Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy matches and the full range of media: terrestrial and pay television, broadband internet, video-on-demand and mobile services. The deal represents a 135% increase on the previous deal and works out at an average of over £1.2 million per club per season, though some clubs will receive more than others. Sky will provide the majority of the coverage, but the BBC will have some of the higher profile matches, namely 10 exclusively live matches from the Coca-Cola Championship per season and the semi-finals and finals of the Carling Cup.[11]

Radio coverage in the United Kingdom is also a major source of live football and is a major output source for the Football League, with every major game broadcast nationally on BBC Radio Five Live, TalkSPORT and digitally on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra which is available digitally online or via DAB radio. Globally, matches are sometimes broadcast on BBC World Service. Every Football League match is broadcast to its local audience via local radio stations, there is no limit to the amount of stations who may broadcast each game, for example, in Swansea, Wales, each match is broadcast Internet Radio, Digital Radio and on Analogue Radio with BBC Radio Wales, in Welsh with BBC Radio Cymru and locally with Swansea Sound Radio and Radio City: Hospital Radio.

On 18 September 2008, the Football League unveiled a new Coca-Cola Football League podcast, hosted by BBC Radio Five Live's Mark Clemmit to be released every Thursday.[12]

Football League clubs

Below are listed the member clubs of The Football League for the 2009–10 season. In total there have been 141 Football League members. Originally the bottom club(s) of the bottom division(s) had to seek reapplication each year, which was voted by all the other members. This sometimes meant some clubs would band together to vote for another regional team, at the expense at a better side non-league side. Walsall holds the record for the most reapplications for the Football League. Former Football League clubs include all 20 of the current members of the Premier League along with various relegated, removed or defunct clubs. Although the competition is primarily for English clubs, two of the sides competing in 2009–10 are from Wales—Cardiff City and Swansea City.

Championship League One League Two
Barnsley Brentford A.F.C. Bournemouth
Blackpool Brighton and Hove Albion Accrington Stanley
Bristol City Bristol Rovers Aldershot Town
Wales Cardiff City Carlisle United Barnet
Coventry City Charlton Athletic Bradford City
Crystal Palace Colchester United Burton Albion
Derby County Exeter City Bury
Doncaster Rovers Gillingham Cheltenham Town
Ipswich Town Hartlepool United Chesterfield
Leicester City Huddersfield Town Crewe Alexandra
Middlesbrough Leeds United Dagenham & Redbridge
Newcastle United Leyton Orient Darlington
Nottingham Forest Millwall Grimsby Town
Peterborough United Milton Keynes Dons Hereford United
Plymouth Argyle Norwich City Lincoln City
Preston North End Oldham Athletic Macclesfield Town
Queens Park Rangers Southampton Morecambe
Reading Southend United Northampton Town
Scunthorpe United Stockport County Notts County
Sheffield United Swindon Town Port Vale
Sheffield Wednesday Tranmere Rovers Rochdale
Wales Swansea City Walsall Rotherham United
Watford Wycombe Wanderers Shrewsbury Town
West Bromwich Albion Yeovil Town Torquay United

Past League winners

NB: League and FA Cup Double winners are highlighted in bold.

1888–1892

When the Football League was first established, all 12 clubs played in just one division.

Season Winner
1888–89 Preston North End
1889–90 Preston North End
1890–91 Everton
1891–92 Sunderland

1892–1920

In 1892 the Football League absorbed 11 of the 12 clubs in the rival Football Alliance after it folded, meaning the League now had enough clubs to form another division. The existing division was renamed the First Division and the new division was called the Second Division.

Season First Division Champions Second Division Champions
1892–93 Sunderland Small Heath
1893–94 Aston Villa Liverpool
1894–95 Sunderland Bury
1895–96 Aston Villa Liverpool
1896–97 Aston Villa Notts County
1897–98 Sheffield United Burnley
1898–99 Aston Villa Manchester City
1899–1900 Aston Villa The Wednesday
1900–01 Liverpool Grimsby Town
1901–02 Sunderland West Bromwich Albion
1902–03 The Wednesday Manchester City
1903–04 The Wednesday Preston North End
1904–05 Newcastle United Liverpool
1905–06 Liverpool Bristol City
1906–07 Newcastle United Nottingham Forest
1907–08 Manchester United Bradford City
1908–09 Newcastle United Bolton Wanderers
1909–10 Aston Villa Manchester City
1910–11 Manchester United West Bromwich Albion
1911–12 Blackburn Rovers Derby County
1912–13 Sunderland Preston North End
1913–14 Blackburn Rovers Notts County
1914–15 Everton Derby County
1915–19 League suspended due to World War I
1919–20 West Bromwich Albion Tottenham Hotspur

1920–1921

In 1920 the Football League admitted the clubs from the first division of the Southern League (the Southern League continued with its remaining clubs) and Grimsby Town, who had failed to be re-elected to the Second Division the season before and been replaced by Cardiff City (of the Southern League). The clubs were placed in the new Third Division:

Season First Division Champions Second Division Champions Third Division Champions
1920–21 Burnley Birmingham Crystal Palace

1921–1958

After just one season under the old format, the League expanded again. This time it admitted a number of clubs from the north of England to balance things out, as the last expansion brought mainly clubs from the south. The existing Third Division was renamed the Third Division South, and the new division was named the Third Division North. Grimsby Town transferred to the new northern division. Both divisions ran in parallel, with clubs from both Third Divisions being promoted to the national Second Division at the end of each season:

Season First Division Champions Second Division Champions Third Division (North) Champions Third Division (South) Champions
1921–22 Liverpool Nottingham Forest Stockport County Southampton
1922–23 Liverpool Notts County Nelson Bristol City
1923–24 Huddersfield Town Leeds United Wolverhampton Wanderers Portsmouth
1924–25 Huddersfield Town Leicester City Darlington Wales Swansea City
1925–26 Huddersfield Town The Wednesday Grimsby Town Reading
1926–27 Newcastle United Middlesbrough Stoke City Bristol City
1927–28 Everton Manchester City Bradford Park Avenue Millwall
1928–29 The Wednesday Middlesbrough Bradford City Charlton Athletic
1929–30 Sheffield Wednesday Blackpool Port Vale Plymouth Argyle
1930–31 Arsenal Everton Chesterfield Notts County
1931–32 Everton Wolverhampton Wanderers Lincoln City Fulham
1932–33 Arsenal Stoke City Hull City Brentford
1933–34 Arsenal Grimsby Town Barnsley Norwich City
1934–35 Arsenal Brentford Doncaster Rovers Charlton Athletic
1935–36 Sunderland Manchester United Chesterfield Coventry City
1936–37 Manchester City Leicester City Stockport County Luton Town
1937–38 Arsenal Aston Villa Tranmere Rovers Millwall
1938–39 Everton Blackburn Rovers Barnsley Wales Newport County
1939–40 League abandoned due to World War II (Accrington Stanley and Blackpool had the best record at that time)
1940–46 League suspended due to World War II
1946–47 Liverpool Manchester City Doncaster Rovers Wales Cardiff City
1947–48 Arsenal Birmingham City Lincoln City Queens Park Rangers
1948–49 Portsmouth Fulham Hull City Wales Swansea City
1949–50 Portsmouth Tottenham Hotspur Doncaster Rovers Notts County
1950–51 Tottenham Hotspur Preston North End Rotherham United Nottingham Forest
1951–52 Manchester United Sheffield Wednesday Lincoln City Plymouth Argyle
1952–53 Arsenal Sheffield United Oldham Athletic Bristol Rovers
1953–54 Wolverhampton Wanderers Leicester City Port Vale Ipswich Town
1954–55 Chelsea Birmingham City Barnsley Bristol City
1955–56 Manchester United Sheffield Wednesday Grimsby Town Leyton Orient
1956–57 Manchester United Leicester City Derby County Ipswich Town
1957–58 Wolverhampton Wanderers West Ham United Scunthorpe United Brighton and Hove Albion

1958–1992

For the beginning of the 1958–59 season, national Third and Fourth Divisions were introduced to replace the regional Third Division North and Third Division South:

Season First Division Champions Second Division Champions Third Division Champions Fourth Division Champions
1958–59 Wolverhampton Wanderers Sheffield Wednesday Plymouth Argyle Port Vale
1959–60 Burnley Aston Villa Southampton Walsall
1960–61 Tottenham Hotspur Ipswich Town Bury Peterborough United
1961–62 Ipswich Town Liverpool Portsmouth Millwall
1962–63 Everton Stoke City Northampton Town Brentford
1963–64 Liverpool Leeds United Coventry City Gillingham
1964–65 Manchester United Newcastle United Carlisle United Brighton & Hove Albion
1965–66 Liverpool Manchester City Hull City Doncaster Rovers
1966–67 Manchester United Coventry City Queens Park Rangers Stockport County
1967–68 Manchester City Ipswich Town Oxford United Luton Town
1968–69 Leeds United Derby County Watford Doncaster Rovers
1969–70 Everton Huddersfield Town Leyton Orient Chesterfield
1970–71 Arsenal Leicester City Preston North End Notts County
1971–72 Derby County Norwich City Aston Villa Grimsby Town
1972–73 Liverpool Burnley Bolton Wanderers Southport
1973–74 Leeds United Middlesbrough Oldham Athletic Peterborough United
1974–75 Derby County Manchester United Blackburn Rovers Mansfield Town
1975–76 Liverpool Sunderland Hereford United Lincoln City
1976–77 Liverpool Wolverhampton Wanderers Mansfield Town Cambridge United
1977–78 Nottingham Forest Bolton Wanderers Wales Wrexham Watford
1978–79 Liverpool Crystal Palace Shrewsbury Town Reading
1979–80 Liverpool Leicester City Grimsby Town Huddersfield Town
1980–81 Aston Villa West Ham United Rotherham United Southend United
1981–82 Liverpool Luton Town Burnley Sheffield United
1982–83 Liverpool Queens Park Rangers Portsmouth Wimbledon
1983–84 Liverpool Chelsea Oxford United York City
1984–85 Everton Oxford United Bradford City Chesterfield
1985–86 Liverpool Norwich City Reading Swindon Town
1986–87 Everton Derby County Bournemouth Northampton Town
1987–88 Liverpool Millwall Sunderland Wolverhampton Wanderers
1988–89 Arsenal Chelsea Wolverhampton Wanderers Rotherham United
1989–90 Liverpool Leeds United Bristol Rovers Exeter City
1990–91 Arsenal Oldham Athletic Cambridge United Darlington
1991–92 Leeds United Ipswich Town Brentford Burnley

1992–2004

Following the breakaway of the clubs in the First Division to form the FA Premier League, the Football League no longer included the top clubs in England. Therefore, the Second Division became the First Division, the Third Division became the Second Division and the Fourth Division became Third Division.

Season First Division Champions Second Division Champions Third Division Champions
1992–93 Newcastle United Stoke City Wales Cardiff City
1993–94 Crystal Palace Reading Shrewsbury Town
1994–95 Middlesbrough Birmingham City Carlisle United
1995–96 Sunderland Swindon Town Preston North End
1996–97 Bolton Wanderers Bury Wigan Athletic
1997–98 Nottingham Forest Watford Notts County
1998–99 Sunderland Fulham Brentford
1999–2000 Charlton Athletic Preston North End Wales Swansea City
2000–01 Fulham Millwall Brighton & Hove Albion
2001–02 Manchester City Brighton & Hove Albion Plymouth Argyle
2002–03 Portsmouth Wigan Athletic Rushden & Diamonds
2003–04 Norwich City Plymouth Argyle Doncaster Rovers

2004–present

In 2004, the Football League renamed its divisions: the First Division became the Football League Championship, the Second Division became Football League One and the Third Division became Football League Two.

Season Championship Champions League One Champions League Two Champions
2004–05 Sunderland Luton Town Yeovil Town
2005–06 Reading Southend United Carlisle United
2006–07 Sunderland Scunthorpe United Walsall
2007–08 West Bromwich Albion Wales Swansea City Milton Keynes Dons
2008–09 Wolverhampton Wanderers Leicester City Brentford

At the end of the 2005–06 season, Reading finished with a record 106 points, beating the previous record of 105 held by Sunderland.

Titles by club

Due to the breakaway of the Premier League in 1992, winning the Football League title no longer makes a team the top tier champions of English football.

Club Top flight titles Football League titles 1889–1992 Premier League titles 1993–2009 Football League titles 1993–2009
Liverpool 18 18 0 0
Manchester United 18 7 11 0
Arsenal 13 10 3 0
Everton 9 9 0 0
Aston Villa 7 7 0 0
Sunderland 6 6 0 4
Newcastle United 4 4 0 1
Sheffield Wednesday 4 4 0 0
Huddersfield Town 3 3 0 0
Leeds United 3 3 0 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 3 0 1
Blackburn Rovers 3 2 1 0
Chelsea 3 1 2 0
Burnley 2 2 0 0
Manchester City 2 2 0 1
Portsmouth 2 2 0 1
Derby County 2 2 0 0
Preston North End 2 2 0 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2 2 0 0
Nottingham Forest 1 1 0 1
Ipswich Town 1 1 0 0
Sheffield United 1 1 0 0
West Bromwich Albion 1 1 0 1
Bolton Wanderers 0 0 0 1
Charlton Athletic 0 0 0 1
Crystal Palace 0 0 0 1
Fulham 0 0 0 1
Middlesbrough 0 0 0 1
Norwich City 0 0 0 1
Reading 0 0 0 1

Football League titles

Team First tier Second tier Third tier Fourth tier Total Titles
Liverpool
18
4
22
Arsenal
10
10
Everton
9
1
10
Aston Villa
7
2
1
10
Manchester United
7
2
9
Sunderland
6
5
1
12
Sheffield Wednesday
4
5
9
Newcastle United
4
2
6
Wolverhampton Wanderers
3
3
2
1
9
Leeds United
3
3
6
Huddersfield Town
3
1
1
5
Burnley
2
2
1
1
6
Derby County
2
4
1
7
Manchester City
2
7
9
Portsmouth
2
1
3
6
Preston North End
2
3
2
1
7
Tottenham Hotspur
2
2
4
Blackburn Rovers
2
1
1
4
Chelsea
1
2
3
Ipswich Town
1
3
2
6
Nottingham Forest
1
3
1
5
Sheffield United
1
1
1
3
West Bromwich Albion
1
3
4
Birmingham City
5
1
6
Blackpool
1
1
Bolton Wanderers
3
1
4
Bradford City
1
2
3
Brentford
1
2
3
6
Bristol City
1
3
4
Bury
1
2
3
Charlton Athletic
1
2
3
Coventry City
1
2
3
Crystal Palace
2
1
3
Fulham
2
2
4
Grimsby Town
2
3
1
6
Leicester City
6
1
7
Luton Town
1
1
1
3
Middlesbrough
4
4
Millwall
1
3
1
5
Norwich City
3
1
4
Notts County
3
2
2
7
Oldham Athletic
1
2
3
Oxford United
1
2
3
Queens Park Rangers
1
2
3
Reading
1
3
1
5
Stoke City
2
2
4
West Ham United
2
2
Barnsley
3
3
Bournemouth
1
1
Bradford Park Avenue
1
1
Brighton and Hove Albion
2
2
4
Bristol Rovers
2
2
Cambridge United
1
1
2
Wales Cardiff City
1
1
2
Carlisle United
1
2
1
Chesterfield
2
2
4
Darlington
1
1
2
Doncaster Rovers
3
2
5
Hereford United
1
1
Hull City
3
3
Leyton Orient
2
2
Lincoln City
3
1
4
Mansfield Town
1
1
2
Nelson
1
1
Wales Newport County
1
1
Northampton Town
1
1
2
Plymouth Argyle
4
1
5
Port Vale
2
1
3
Rotherham United
2
1
3
Scunthorpe United
1
1
Shrewsbury Town
1
1
2
Southampton
2
2
Southend United
1
1
2
Stockport County
2
1
3
Wales Swansea City
2
1
3
Swindon Town
1
1
2
Tranmere Rovers
1
1
Watford
2
1
3
Wigan Athletic
1
1
2
Wales Wrexham
1
1
Exeter City
1
1
Gillingham
1
1
Milton Keynes Dons
1
1
Peterborough United
2
2
Rushden & Diamonds
1
1
Southport
1
1
Walsall
2
2
Wimbledon
1
1
Yeovil Town
1
1
York City
1
1

Play-offs

Championship Play-off final, 2006. (Leeds United v. Watford, Millennium Stadium)

The Football League Play-Offs are used as a means of determining the final promotion place from each of the league's three divisions. This is a way of keeping the possibility of promotion open for more clubs towards the end of the season.

The format was first introduced in 1987, after the decision was made to reduce the top flight from 22 to 20 clubs over the next two seasons; initially, the play-offs involved the team finishing immediately above the relegation places in a given division and the three teams who finished immediately below the promotion places in the division below - essentially one team was fighting to keep their place in the higher division while the other three teams were attempting to take it from them. In 1989, this was changed—instead of teams from different divisions playing each other, the four teams below the automatic promotion places contested the play-offs. The first season of this arrangement saw the final being contested in home and away legs. The four teams play off in two semi-finals and a final, with the team winning the final being promoted. Originally the semi-finals and the final were all two-legged home-and-away affairs, but from 1990 onwards the final was a one-off match (usually at Wembley or, during its rebuilding, the Millennium Stadium). It is in this format that the play-offs continue today. A proposal to have six teams rather than four competing for the final place was defeated at the league's AGM in 2003.[13]

Controversy

For all the excitement the play-offs generate, the concept causes significant controversy, because a team that has proved itself the third best in its division over the course of a season would have to play an additional two-legged semi-final and a one-off final in order to win promotion. The Football League Championship play-off final has often been called "the richest game of football in the world" due to the money on offer through gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Some fans have also noticed the prevalence of a curse over the playoffs, in which the team who loses in the final of the promotion playoff is relegated the next season.[14]

Play-off winners

Season Division Two Division Three Division Four
1986-87 Charlton Athletic Swindon Town Aldershot
1987-88 Middlesbrough Walsall Swansea City
1988-89 Crystal Palace Port Vale Leyton Orient
1989-90 Swindon Town1 Notts County Cambridge United
1990-91 Notts County Tranmere Rovers Torquay United
1991-92 Blackburn Rovers Peterborough United Blackpool
Season Division One Division Two Division Three
1992-93 Swindon Town West Bromwich Albion York City
1993-94 Leicester City Burnley Wycombe Wanderers
1994-95 Bolton Wanderers Huddersfield Town Chesterfield
1995-96 Leicester City Bradford City Plymouth Argyle
1996-97 Crystal Palace Crewe Alexandra Northampton Town
1997-98 Charlton Athletic Grimsby Town Colchester United
1998-99 Watford Manchester City Scunthorpe United
1999-00 Ipswich Town Gillingham Peterborough United
2000-01 Bolton Wanderers Walsall Blackpool
2001-02 Birmingham City Stoke City Cheltenham Town
2002-03 Wolverhampton Wanderers Cardiff City Bournemouth
2003-04 Crystal Palace Brighton & Hove Albion Huddersfield Town
Season Championship League One League Two
2004-05 West Ham United Sheffield Wednesday Southend United
2005-06 Watford Barnsley Cheltenham Town
2006-07 Derby County Blackpool Bristol Rovers
2007-08 Hull City Doncaster Rovers Stockport County
2008-09 Burnley Scunthorpe United Gillingham

1: Due to financial irregularities, Swindon were prevented from taking their place in the top division, which was awarded to the losing finalists, Sunderland.

Footballs

The Mitre Pro 100T is the official match football of the Football League and is used by all 72 teams from the Championship and Leagues One and Two. Mitre's current deal started in the 2007–08 season and runs until the end of the 2010–11 season. As of the 2007–08 season, every Football League Championship team has their own Mitre football for home matches. The balls sport the home team's crest and colours.

Huddersfield Town will play the 2008–09 season with a customised Mitre ball to celebrate their centenary. The Football League rules have not allowed this before, but they have been relaxed as Mitre were formerly based in Huddersfield.

See also

References

  1. ^ League One and Two clubs only, Johnstone's Paint Trophy
  2. ^ FA Cup or League Cup winners
  3. ^ Niall MacKenzie (5 July 2007). "All Time Attendance Records". Nufc.com. http://www.nufc.com/html/attendance-all-time.html. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  4. ^ The New York Times, 27 March 1887
  5. ^ The Leeds Mercury Issue 15289, 9 April 1887.
  6. ^ "In the matter of an agreement between the Football Association Premier League Limited and the Football Association Limited and the Football League Limited and their respective member clubs". HM Courts Service. 2006. http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/judgmentsfiles/j9/pljmtint.htm. Retrieved 8 August 2006. 
  7. ^ "A history of the Premier League". Premier League official website. http://www.premierleague.com/page/History/0,,12306,00.html. Retrieved 4 January 2008. 
  8. ^ "A History of The Premier League". Premier League. http://www.premierleague.com/page/History/0,,12306,00.html. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  9. ^ "Coca-Cola And The Football League Sign New Deal". The Coca-Cola Company. 12 March 2007. http://presscentre.coca-cola.co.uk/viewnews/football_league_deal_signed. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  10. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8570749.stm
  11. ^ Football League Agrees Historic Deal with Sky Sports and BBC, www.football-league.premiumtv.co.uk, 6 November 2007.
  12. ^ "Podcast Top of the League". Football-league.co.uk. http://www.football-league.co.uk/page/PodcastsDetail/0,,10794~1397084,00.html. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  13. ^ "BBC SPORT | Football | Play-off plans shelved". BBC News. 5 June 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/2966968.stm. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  14. ^ "606 - - A21794664 - The curse of the play-offs". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A21794664. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 

External links








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