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EFL Championship: All you need to know

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.

WhatEFL Championship
WhereVarious grounds across England and Wales
WhenAugust 2023 - May 2024
How to watchSky Sports
OddsLeicester City 11/2, Leeds United 15/2, Southampton 8/1, Middlesbrough 10/1, West Brom 14/1

What is the EFL Championship?

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 3rd-6th 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.

When did the Championship start?

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.

Which teams have won the Championship title the most?

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.

Can I watch the Championship on television?

Yes. Sky Sports hold the rights to show Championship matches, with up to 138 being broadcast live across the 2023/24 campaign in the final year of the current agreement.

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 £965 million between the Football League and Sky Sports will kick in with the broadcasters down to show a minimum of 328 Championship matches per campaign.

Who are the favourites to win the 2023/24 Championship?

The three sides relegated from the Premier League last season, Leicester, Leeds and Southampton have been installed as the market leaders to finish top of the standings.

The Foxes are 6/4 to bounce back at the first time of asking and 11/2 to claim the title, despite a big summer of change on the horizon with the likes of James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu set to depart the King Power Stadium.

Leeds face an even bigger upheaval amid talk of a change of ownership and manager with Sam Allardyce not being kept on after his brief four-game spell in charge.

The Whites are 15/2 to win the Championship and 2/1 to go up, although it took them 16 years the last time they were relegated from the Premier League.

Southampton are 5/2 to be promoted as they continue their search for a new manager after Ruben Selles’ departure.

Coventry City are 6/1 to go one better than their penalty shootout loss to Luton Town in the Championship play-off final.

Middlesbrough (10/3), West Brom (9/2), Watford (9/2) and Norwich (9/2) will be serious contenders, while new boys Ipswich Town (6/1), Sheffield Wednesday (10/1) and Plymouth Argyle (28/1) will be gunning for back-to-back promotions after coming up from League One last season.

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