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Championship Play-Offs Guide

May 13th, 2019 Sports Guides

What is it?

The Championship play-offs are a series of matches that determine who will take the final place in the Premier League for the next season.

Three teams are relegated from the Premier League each season and they are replaced by three teams from the Championship. Two places are taken by the team finishing first and second, and then the final place goes to the side winning the play-off final – which is contested between the team finishing third to sixth.

The semi-finals see the team finishing third play the team in sixth, and the third and fourth teams take on each other in the second semi-final – both semi-finals are played over two-legs, home and away but away goals do not count.

The two winners then meet in the final, which is played at Wembley – and is generally the last game of the English footballing season, and it is also the most valuable – that is because any team promoted to the Premier League is now guaranteed £100million, meaning the play-off final itself is worth more than any game on the planet.

Since being introduced in the Championship, play-offs are now entrenched through the football system in England – barring the Premier League, who only have a straight relegation.

What is the history?

The play-offs were introduced to England in 1987, but under a slightly different system. Back then it included the team finishing fourth from bottom of the top-flight and three teams from First Division – as it was then.

And in the first play-offs, top-flight side Charlton won and it was not until 1988 – under the same system that a side was promoted via the play-offs, and that was Middlesbrough who defeated Chelsea – which sent them down.

However, 12-months later the system was changed to what it still is to this day – that is that all four teams involved in the play-offs come from what is now known as the Championship, so it is a complete promotion only play-off.

The play-off finals have seen 22 different teams achieve promotion via this method. Some teams are multiple winners, indeed the most successful have been Crystal Palace who have won on four different occasions.

Year Winners (number of wins) Runners-up
1987 Charlton Athletic (1) Leeds United
1988 Middlesbrough (1) Chelsea
1989 Crystal Palace (1) Blackburn Rovers
1990 Swindon Town (1)1 Sunderland1
1991 Notts County (1) Brighton & Hove Albion
1992 Blackburn Rovers (1) Leicester City
1993 Swindon Town (2) Leicester City
1994 Leicester City (1) Derby County
1995 Bolton Wanderers (1) Reading
1996 Leicester City (2) Crystal Palace
1997 Crystal Palace (2) Sheffield United
1998 Charlton Athletic (2) Sunderland
1999 Watford (1) Bolton Wanderers
2000 Ipswich Town (1) Barnsley
2001 Bolton Wanderers (2) Preston North End
2002 Birmingham City (1) Norwich City
2003 Wolverhampton Wanderers (1) Sheffield United
2004 Crystal Palace (3) West Ham United
2005 West Ham United (1) Preston North End
2006 Watford (2) Leeds United
2007 Derby County (1) West Bromwich Albion
2008 Hull City (1) Bristol City
2009 Burnley (1) Sheffield United
2010 Blackpool (1) Cardiff City
2011 Swansea City (1) Reading
2012 West Ham United (2) Blackpool
2013 Crystal Palace (4) Watford
2014 Queens Park Rangers (1) Derby County
2015 Norwich City (1) Middlesbrough
2016 Hull City (2) Sheffield Wednesday
2017 Huddersfield Town (1) Reading
2018 Fulham (1) Aston Villa

When is the Championship Play-off final?

In 2019, the Championship play-off final is the last of the three play-off finals, following on from the League Two and League One finals. During years of major finals, sometimes the final is moved to allow the players to leave earlier.

This year the play-off final is due to kick-off at 3pm BST on Monday May 27th.

Who will be in the Play-off final?

Semi-final teams will be finalised this week..

Championship play-off final trends

Many people are of the belief that the team in form, often the late comer who finishes sixth, are the team to fear and indeed the third placed team miss out more often than not – but this is actually something of a myth.

It is in fact best to finish third, as the winner of the Championship play-off has been the third placed team on 36% of the times, the worst is actually sixth – as team finishing in that spot are the least successful at only 17%.

Position Wins Win percentage
3rd 11 36.66%
4th 6 20%
5th 8 26.66%
6th 5 17%