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EFL Championship: History, dates, teams, schedule & more

The EFL Championship is known to be one of the most competitive and difficult leagues to predict in European football, which also helps make it one of the most entertaining to watch.

With the incentive of three teams being promoted to the Premier League every season, there is always plenty at stake in the second tier of English football, a division that is packed full of some of historically the biggest clubs in the English game.

EFL Championship structure

The Championship is the second-highest division in the English Football League pyramid and consists of 24 teams, with the top two at the end of each season being promoted to the Premier League automatically.

The final promotion place is decided via a play-off format, with the teams that finish third-sixth contesting two, two-legged semi-finals, with the winner from each of those ties going on to face each other in the final at Wembley.

Billed as the 'richest game in football', the winner of that one-off final at Wembley will not only secure promotion to the Premier League, but they will also receive a windfall of upwards of £135m.

There are also three relegation places to fill in each Championship season, with the bottom three teams in the division at the end of every campaign suffering relegation to League One.

EFL Championship history 

There has been a second tier of the English Football League pyramid for the last 131 years, but the division has taken on different guises over that time.

For the first 100 years of its existence it was known as the Football League Second Division, but that all changed in 1992 with the formation of the Premier League.

The Premier League replaced the Football League First Division as the top tier of the EFL pyramid, with the second tier then becoming known as the First Division for the next 12 years.

However, in 2004 the second tier was rebranded again and became known as the Championship, the title it still holds to this day.

EFL Championship previous winners

Since the Championship took on its current form in 2004, 13 teams have been crowned champions of the second tier, with Sunderland landing the first title during the 2004/05 season.

Of those 13 teams, six have lifted the title twice - Sunderland, Reading, Wolves, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Burnley, the latter claiming the second of their titles in 2023.

The Clarets clinched the league crown in fine style, bouncing back to the Premier League at the first time of asking after smashing the 100-point barrier.

The second tier of course dates back further than 2004 and the most-successful teams in the competition's history are Leicester and Manchester City, who have both won the title on seven occasions.

SeasonChampionsRunners-upPlay-off winners
2004/05SunderlandWiganWest Ham
2005/06ReadingSheffield UnitedWatford
2007/08West BromStokeHull
2009/10NewcastleWest BromBlackpool
2011/12ReadingSouthamptonWest Ham
2012/13CardiffHullCrystal Palace
2018/19NorwichSheffield UnitedAston Villa
2019/20LeedsWest BromFulham
2021/22FulhamBournemouthNottingham Forest
2022/23BurnleySheffield UnitedLuton

EFL Championship 2023/24 dates

The 2023/24 Championship season got underway on Friday 4th August, 2023 when a Southampton side that had just been relegated from the Premier League claimed a 2-1 victory away to newly-promoted Sheffield Wednesday.

A total of 552 matches will be played during the regular season, which will culminate on Saturday 4th May, 2024.

That will signal the end of the campaign for the majority of teams in the Championship, but the sides that finish third-sixth will contest the play-offs to decide the final promotion place, with the play-off final scheduled for Sunday 26th May, 2024.

EFL Championship 2023/24 how to watch

Sky Sports hold the rights to show Championship matches, with up to 138 being broadcast live across the 2023/24 campaign.

In addition, selected midweek matches are also shown via the Sky Sports red button and/or on club streaming platform iFollow.

There is also a highlights programme shown after every gameweek on ITV.

From the 2024/25 season, a new £965m deal between the Football League and Sky Sports will kick in with the broadcasters down to show a minimum of 328 Championship matches per campaign.

EFL Championship 2023/24 odds

All the latest title and promotion odds for the 2023/24 Championship season can be found via our Championship 2023/24 Title and Promotion Odds article.

For those analysing the other end of the table, here are the latest Championship relegation odds.

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