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|Sheff Utd |
|15:00||Burton Albion |
|Nottm Forest |
|15:00||Sheff Wed |
|Aston Villa |
|Bristol City |
The Championship is the highest division of the English Football League, and the second division in the whole English Football League System.
Originally called Division Two, it was renamed as the First Division in 1992 following the formation of the Premier League. In 2004 it was re-branded as The Football League Championship and in 2015 to the English Football League Championship (or EFL Championship).
It is the wealthiest football division in the world outside of the top flight of Football and has been sponsored by Sky Bet since 2013 with the current agreement due to run until 2019.
There are 24 teams in the Championship, each playing the other teams once at home and once away over the course of a season. The league is structured on a points basis. 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for a loss. At the end of the season if teams are equal on points they are ranked by goal difference, then goals scored, then their head-to-head record in that season.
The top 2 teams in the Championship receive automatic promotion to the Premiership. The four teams placed 3rd to 6th then take place in the play-offs. Semi-final matches in the play-offs are played over two legs and the winner of each semi-final, based on the aggregate score, then goes on to the final. The winner of play-offs receives promotion to the Premiership.
The bottom placed teams at the end of the season are relegated to League One.
The Championship play-offs are the single most valuable sporting event in the world to the winners. Increased television revenues in the Premier League mean the winner can expect to be around £60 million better off than the loser.
Ipswich Town hold the longest tenure in the Championship. They have made the play-offs a record eight times but only made the final once. They gained promotion in 2000, but were relegated the following season.
The team in third place in the league at play-offs has succeeded in gaining promotion 6 times out of 13 seasons from the league re-brand up to 2017. League position does not otherwise make a significant difference to the chance of promotion. The teams finishing in 4th and 6th have gained promotion twice each, and in 5th position 3 times up to the end of the 2016/17 season.
With so much profit to be made from promotion to the Premier League the battle for top spots in the Championship can make for exciting betting opportunities.
Bets can be placed on the outright winner of the league and which teams will gain the coveted top 2 positions for automatic promotion. It is also popular to place bets on which teams will finish in the top 6 and make play-offs, and which teams will win promotion.
At the other end of the league it can be profitable to place bets on which teams will be relegated this season and which team will finish bottom of the League.
The top goalscorer of the league is also another gamble worth taking. The top goalscorer in the league has come from a team which hasn't gained promotion 7 times in the 13 seasons between 2004-2017.
The Championship season runs from August to May.