The Football League Championship (often referred to as The Championship for short, or the Coca-Cola Football League Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the highest division of The Football League and second-highest division overall in the English football league system after the Premier League.

The Football League Championship was introduced for the 2004–2005 season, having been previously known as the Football League First Division. According to Deloitte, in the 2004–05 season it was the richest non-top flight football division in the world, and the sixth richest division in Europe.

History Edit

In 2004-05, the Football League Championship announced a total attendance (including postseason) of 9.8 million, which it said was the fourth highest total attendance for a European football division, behind the FA Premier League (12.88m), Spain's Primera división (11.57m) and Germany's Bundesliga (10.92m), but beating Italy's Serie A (9.77m) and France's Ligue 1 (8.17m).The total figures were aided somewhat by the presence of 24 clubs, compared to 20 clubs in both Serie A and Ligue 1, and 18 in the Bundesliga. A major factor to the competition's success comes from television revenue.

Structure of the league Edit

The league is comprised of 24 teams. Over the course of a season, which runs annually from August to the following May, each team plays twice against the others in the league, once at 'home' and once 'away', resulting in each team competing in 46 games in total. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The teams are ranked in the league table by points gained, then goal difference and then goals scored. In the event that two or more teams finish the season equal in all these respects, teams are separated by alphabetical order, unless a promotion, relegation or play-off place is at stake, when the teams are separated by a playoff game.

The two teams finishing the season in the top two positions are promoted to the Premier League and the bottom three teams are relegated to Football League One. In addition, the teams finishing in positions 3-6 compete in the Football League Championship Play-Offs, a knock-out competition with the winner also being promoted to the Premier League. In the playoffs, the third placed team plays against the sixth-placed team and the fourth placed team plays against the fifth placed team in two-legged semi-finals. The winners of each semifinal then compete in a single match with the prize being promotion to the Premier League and the Championship playoff trophy.

The three promoted teams are replaced in the division for the next season by the teams finishing in the bottom three in the Premier League and the relegated teams are replaced by the two teams finishing at the top of Division One and the winner of the Division One playoff final.

Broadcasting rights Edit

The television rights for the Football League Championship are currently held by Sky Sports. Sky Sports will hold the exclusive rights until the 2009-2010 season. Highlights of Championship matches and goals of league one and league two matches are shown by ITV on The Championship. From 2009-2012 Sky Sports will show 65 live matches. The BBC will show 10 live games a season and has rights to show a highlight show. The deal is on a three year contract and is worth £264m that will mostly be paid by Sky.

In Australia, Fox Sports broadcasts live Coca Cola Championship matches every weekend, as well as a Highlights show every Tuesday night at 7pm.

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