English Football League play-offs

The English Football League play-offs are an annual series of association football matches to determine the final promotion places within each division of the English Football League (EFL). In each division it involves the four teams that finish directly below the automatic promotion places. These teams meet in a series of play-off matches to determine the final team that will be promoted.

The play-offs were first introduced in 1987 and have been staged at the conclusion of every season since. Since 1990 the winners of each division's play-off competition have been determined in a one-off final. Blackpool are the most successful club in play-off history, winning five times - 1992, 2001, 2007, 2010, and 2017.

English Football League play-offs
Founded1987
Region England
 Wales
Number of teams12 (4 per division)
Television broadcastersSky Sports
2019 English Football League play-offs

Format

The four teams finishing directly below the automatic promotion places in each of the three Football League divisions enter the play-offs in a chance to win promotion to the division above. In the Championship and League One these are the teams finishing in third, fourth, fifth and sixth place, while in League Two (with its greater number of teams automatically promoted), it is the teams finishing in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place that enter the play-offs.

The highest-finishing team of the four plays the team that finished lowest, with the first leg being held at the home of the team that finished lowest and the second leg being held at the home of the team that finished highest. This is designed to give the team that finished higher an advantage. This is the same for the teams that finished second highest and second lowest of the four teams, with the advantage being with the team that finished the higher.

The winner of a semi-finals is decided by the tie's aggregate score after the two legs. If the aggregate score is level at the end of the 90 minutes of the second leg, then an additional 30 minutes of extra time is played to try to create a winning team. If the score at the end of extra time is still level then the tie is decided by penalty kicks.[1]

The two winners from the semi-finals meet at a neutral venue in the final. The final must be decided on the day, so extra time and penalties may be carried out if the scores are level.[1] The winner of the tie gains promotion to the league above.

Changes to format

During the first two stagings of the play-offs in 1987 and 1988, the four teams involved were the three clubs that finished directly below the automatic promotions positions, plus the club which finished directly above the automatic relegation places in the division above, similar to the Football league test matches of the 1890s.

This was part of the league's two-season-long restructuring that would reduce the number of teams in the top tier (from 22 to 20) while increasing them in the lower divisions (creating three divisions of 24 clubs); during these seasons, only one club (Charlton Athletic in 1987) that entered the play-offs in a relegation place managed to win the play-offs and therefore retain their divisional status.

In the seasons prior to the 1990 play-offs, the finals were two-legged ties with both teams hosting the other once. If the two teams could not be separated, a tie-breaker was then staged at a neutral venue. This was used on three occasions: the 1987 Second Division final was played at Birmingham City's St. Andrews; the 1987 Third Division final was played at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park; and the 1988 Third Division final was played at Walsall's Fellows Park (though this was not a neutral venue, as Walsall was one of the clubs involved).

Since 1990 a one-off final match has been used to determine the play-off winners, which has traditionally been staged at the old Wembley Stadium. Between 2001 and 2006 the final was instead moved to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium while the new Wembley Stadium was being constructed. In 2011 the Football League was forced to use Old Trafford for the League One and League Two play-off finals because Wembley was unavailable, being used instead for the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final.

Before the 1999–2000 season away goals were used as a tie-breaker after extra time had been played, however, this was abolished following a club initiative launched by then-Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, after his club had twice lost on away goals in 1997 and 1999. Since then away goals have played no part in the play-off system.[2]

Proposed changes

A change to the format of the play-offs was proposed by Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander in 2003. Alexander recommended expanding the number of teams in each play-off series from four to six, providing more clubs with a chance at promotion. Additionally, the two-legged semi-finals would have been replaced by one-off quarter-final and semi-final games, both of which would give home advantage to the team that finished higher during the league season. The two highest placed clubs in the play-off series would advance directly to the semi-final, while the other four clubs would contest the quarter-final.[3]

The proposed changes were narrowly approved by Football League chairmen and were set to be voted upon at the league's annual general meeting.[4] The motion was withdrawn however, due to objections received from the Premier League and The Football Association.[5]

Past winners

Year Division Two Division Three Division Four
1987 Charlton Athletic Swindon Town Aldershot
1988 Middlesbrough Walsall Swansea City
1989 Crystal Palace Port Vale Leyton Orient
1990 Swindon Town1 Notts County Cambridge United
1991 Notts County Tranmere Rovers Torquay United
1992 Blackburn Rovers Peterborough United Blackpool
Year Division One Division Two Division Three
1993 Swindon Town West Bromwich Albion York City
1994 Leicester City Burnley Wycombe Wanderers
1995 Bolton Wanderers Huddersfield Town Chesterfield
1996 Leicester City Bradford City Plymouth Argyle
1997 Crystal Palace Crewe Alexandra Northampton Town
1998 Charlton Athletic Grimsby Town Colchester United
1999 Watford Manchester City Scunthorpe United
2000 Ipswich Town Gillingham Peterborough United
2001 Bolton Wanderers Walsall Blackpool
2002 Birmingham City Stoke City Cheltenham Town
2003 Wolverhampton Wanderers Cardiff City Bournemouth
2004 Crystal Palace Brighton & Hove Albion Huddersfield Town
Year Championship League One League Two
2005 West Ham United Sheffield Wednesday Southend United
2006 Watford Barnsley Cheltenham Town
2007 Derby County Blackpool Bristol Rovers
2008 Hull City Doncaster Rovers Stockport County
2009 Burnley Scunthorpe United Gillingham
2010 Blackpool Millwall Dagenham & Redbridge
2011 Swansea City Peterborough United Stevenage
2012 West Ham United Huddersfield Town Crewe Alexandra
2013 Crystal Palace Yeovil Town Bradford City
2014 Queens Park Rangers Rotherham United Fleetwood Town
2015 Norwich City Preston North End Southend United
2016 Hull City Barnsley AFC Wimbledon
2017 Huddersfield Town Millwall Blackpool
2018 Fulham Rotherham United Coventry City
2019 Aston Villa Charlton Athletic Tranmere Rovers

1: Due to financial irregularities, Swindon were prevented from taking their place in the top division, which was awarded to the losing finalists, Sunderland.

Records

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Sky Bet EFL Play-Off Rules". EFL. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  2. ^ Shaw, Dominic (14 May 2018). "Play-off dates, away goal rule & new technology". Gazette Live. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Play-offs set for shake-up". BBC Sport. 7 March 2003. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  4. ^ Warshaw, Andrew (5 June 2003). "Radical plan for expansion of play-offs to be rejected". The Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Play-off plans shelved". BBC Sport. 5 June 2003. Retrieved 8 May 2011.

External links

1992 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 1991–92 season were held in May 1992, with the finals taking place at Wembley Stadium. The play-off semi-finals were also played over two legs and were contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Second Division, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division and the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place teams in the Football League Fourth Division table. The winners of the semi-finals progressed through to the finals, with the winner of these matches gaining promotion for the following season.

1997 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 1996–97 season were held in May 1997, with the finals taking place at the old Wembley Stadium in London. The play-off semi-finals will be played over two legs and will be contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League First Division and Football League Second Division and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

1998 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 1997–98 season were held in May 1998, with the finals taking place at the old Wembley Stadium in London. The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs and were contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League First Division and Football League Second Division and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2000 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 1999–2000 season were held in May 2000, with the finals taking place at the old Wembley Stadium in London for the final time. The play-off semi-finals will be played over two legs and will be contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League First Division and Football League Second Division and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2001 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2000–01 season were held in May 2001, with the finals taking place at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The play-off semi-finals will be played over two legs and will be contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League First Division and Football League Second Division and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2004 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2003–04 season were held in May 2004, with the finals taking place at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The play-off semi-finals will be played over two legs and will be contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League First Division and Football League Second Division and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the Football League Third Division table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2005 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2004–05 season were held in May 2005, with the finals taking place at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs and were contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals progressed to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2006 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2005–06 season were held in May 2006, with the finals taking place at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the last time. The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs and were contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals advanced to the finals, with the winners of these matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2007 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2006–07 season were held in May 2007, with the finals taking place at Wembley Stadium in London for the first time. The play-off semi-finals will be played over two legs and will contested by the teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals will go through to the finals, with the winner of the matches gaining promotion for the following season.

2010 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2009–10 season were held in May 2010, with the finals taking place at Wembley Stadium in London. The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals went through to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

2011 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2010–11 season were held in May 2011. The Championship final took place at Wembley Stadium in London, but the League One and Two finals were held at Old Trafford in Manchester, due to a clash with the UEFA Champions League Final.

The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th-, 5th-, 6th- and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals went through to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

The semi-final matches were played from 12 to 20 May 2011. The finals were held between 28 and 30 May 2011.

2012 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2011–12 season were held in May 2012. All finals took place at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals went through to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

The semi-final matches were played from 3 to 17 May 2012. The finals were held between 19 and 27 May 2012.

2013 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2012–13 season were held in May 2013 with all finals being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-off semi-finals were played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals advanced to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

2014 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2013–14 season were held in May 2014 with all finals being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-offs began at the semi-final stage with all semi-finals being played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals then advanced to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

2015 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2014–15 season began in May 2015 with the finals taking place at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-offs began at the semi-final stage with all semi-finals being played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals then advanced to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

2016 Football League play-offs

The Football League play-offs for the 2015–16 season were held in May 2016 with all finals being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-offs begin at the semi-final stage with all semi-finals being played over two legs, contested by the teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Football League Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in the League Two table. The winners of the semi-finals then advance to the finals, with the winner of the final gaining promotion for the following season.

2017 English Football League play-offs

The English Football League play-offs for the 2016–17 season were held in May 2017 with all finals being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.

The play-offs begin in each league with two semi-finals which are played over two legs. The teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in League Two compete. The winners of the semi-finals advance to the finals, with the winners gaining promotion for the following season.

2018 English Football League play-offs

The English Football League play-offs for the 2017–18 season were held in May 2018 with all finals being staged at Wembley Stadium in London. The play-offs began in each league with two semi-finals played over two legs. The teams who finished in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in League Two competed. The winners of the semi-finals advanced to the finals, with the winners gaining promotion for the following season.

2019 English Football League play-offs

The English Football League play-offs for the 2018–19 season were held in May 2019 with all finals played at Wembley Stadium in London. The play-offs will begin in each league with two semi-finals played over two legs. The teams who finish in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place in the Championship and League One and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th-placed teams in League Two are set to compete. The winners of the semi-finals advance to the finals, with the winners gaining promotion for the following season.

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