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|
|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?
Aston Villa and Derby County.
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%.