Championship Free Bets & Betting Offers
To those who only have eyes for the Premier League, the Championship is only relevant as far as it provides three new PL teams each season and is the dreaded destination following relegation from the top flight. However, in the greater scheme of things, the second tier of English football, the highest level of the English Football League (EFL), is one of the richest, best-attended and most exciting leagues in the world.
In this, our Championship betting hub, we will take a look in more detail at the various betting markets available, as well as all the great football betting offers relevant to the second tier. From time to time we’ll also have some more in-depth blog-style articles on the Championship and we will explain the basic structure of the division, plus how relegation and promotion work. Finally, how about a bit of trivia to impress your nerdy buddies down the pub?
Championship Betting Articles, Stats & Facts
EFL Championship Betting Markets
Football is by some distance the number one betting sport in the UK and indeed around the globe. The Championship cannot rival the Premier League in terms of its worldwide appeal, its financial clout or, quite simply, the quality of the football. However, when it comes to betting, the two are very similar.
That said, you won’t find quite as many different markets on a Championship game as you would for a top-flight contest. Looking at one of the best football bookies around, we can see that most games in the top flight offer in excess of 550 markets. In contrast, second-tier clashes tend to offer around 210 (for reference, games in League One, the third tier, have about 130).
Whilst that can appear like a big difference, all the major markets most punters bet on are available for second-tier clashes. You’ll find match odds, handicaps, both teams to score (BTTS), over/under goals, half-time/full-time betting, goalscorer markets and much, much more. You just won’t have quite as many niche and novelty markets, nor all the different permutations of bets and sub-markets, such as how many corners one of the sides will win in the first half only, or bets on things like passes, touches and assists.
Championship games will often feature in big Saturday or weekend accas that many punters love. You can combine bets across as many different leagues as you want and many traditional longlists may well feature a number of games from England’s second tier. One thing that can be especially appealing to punters who bet on the Championship is that the vast majority of games all kick off at the same time.
There are lots of midweek games, usually on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but most matches are traditional Saturday at 3pm affairs. This is great if you fancy an acca on the “Champ” as you don’t need to wait till the evening or even next day to see it settle. You won’t be faced with an agonising decision over cashing your bet out when most legs have won but there are still two games to be played on Sunday.
Instead, your bet will be done and dusted by 5pm on Saturday – hopefully providing you with funds for a big night out. But more likely just tales of so near and yet so far and anger that West Brom couldn’t have just scored one more goal! Acca insurance anyone?
When it comes to outrights we see the same sort of picture as we did with markets relating to specific games. All the main options are available for the Championship but there might not be quite the same selection. For example, in the Premier League one might be able to bet on the best side from London or the North West, whereas this market is not offered for the second tier. You will also not see outrights on awards, such as the Player of the Year.
However, the core markets, such as winner, top goalscorer, relegation, to finish bottom, or top two and top six betting, will generally be available at most football bookies. One area where the Championship does offer extra markets though, is on an eventuality that just doesn’t exist in the Premier League – promotion.
Whilst the focus in the top flight is on top-four betting, due to its Champions League relevance, the Championship has additional markets thanks to the possibility of, and indeed importance of, promotion. Outright markets for a side to be promoted (by any means) or to make the play-offs are hugely popular. In addition, once the normal season has finished, the five games of the play-offs are huge betting events.
The Championship follows the same format as many major leagues around the world. As such, all teams play each other twice, once at home and once away. With 24 teams in the division, four more than in the Premier League and the same as in Leagues One and Two beneath it, the Championship sees each club play 46 matches. That is eight more than Premier League teams, meaning a number of extra midweek games.
This helps give rise to the notion that the Championship is one of the most gruelling leagues in the world and toughest from which to escape. As with all levels of football in the English pyramid, there are three points for a win and one for a draw, and league placings are determined according to points gathered throughout the season. Goal difference is the first method used if a tiebreaker is required.
The season also follows the typical schedule of many in Europe, starting in August, usually a week before the Premier League to help with those extra fixtures. The normal season finishes at the start of May, but after that there are the play-offs (see Relegation and Promotion below) which usually last for a couple of weeks, the final taking place at the very end of the month.
Relegation & Promotion
Once more, the Championship sticks to a fairly standard format in terms of promotion and relegation. Each year three teams go up to the promised land of the Premier League and three go down to the rather less yearned for world of League One. The three teams to be relegated are very simply the ones with the fewest points. As said, goal difference is used should clubs be tied, with goals scored the next metric used to separate teams, then the head-to-head record should sides still be inseparable.
At the other end of the table things are slightly more complex. Whilst two sides earn automatic promotion to the PL, the third place is won via the play-offs. The teams that finish third to sixth inclusive qualify for this nerve-jangling end-of-season jamboree, which takes place after the standard 46 games have been played.
With four places in the play-offs up for grabs, the battle to finish inside the top six invariably goes to the wire and means that for a large part of the season, many teams have something to play for. Eventually though we end up with four teams and the side finishing third plays the sixth-placed team in a two-legged play-off semi. Fourth plays fifth and the winners of these ties meet at Wembley in the play-off final.
Leagues One and Two use the same system and the three play-off finals take place over the long weekend at the end of May. The first legs of the semis are usually played at the weekend, with the return legs in the midweek that follows. There is then typically a gap of around 12 days before the final, dubbed the “richest game in football”. This is because winning is thought to be worth around £180m to £260m due to the staggering money offered by the Premier League.
What’s in a Name?
The Championship is, at the time of writing, officially called the Sky Bet Championship with the betting site having long-sponsored the EFL. Whether you call it by its sponsored title, full moniker of the English Football League Championship, simply the Championship, or even more simply, the Champ, is up to you.
It was founded in 2016. Or 1892. Or 1992. Or maybe 2004. Well, its earliest forerunner, the Second Division was created over 130 years ago and this name remained for a long time. In 1992, when the Premier League was created it became the First Division, shifting to the Championship in 2004 and the EFL Championship in 2016. What comes next, who knows?!
TV & Media Coverage
The Championship TV deal currently runs until 2024 and sees around 118 matches broadcast live. Sky TV is the place to view this, with the five play-off matches all televised as well. The value of the broadcast rights is very low compared to the Premier League but even so brings in valuable money to the EFL (the deal covers the Championship plus the two divisions beneath it).
The current deal, agreed at the end of 2018, was worth £595m over five years, but was not popular with clubs in the second tier who felt they were being sold short. None the less, the agreement went ahead and sees Championship games broadcast on Friday nights, Saturday afternoons and also Sunday afternoons. Typical kick-off times are 8pm on Friday, 12.30pm on Saturday and midday on Sunday. The bulk of weekend fixtures, usually nine or 10, get underway at 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Occasionally, Championship games are also broadcast at other times and on other days too.
In terms of wider media coverage, the Championship is very much the poor relative compared to the Premier League. There are various TV highlights shows around the world to supplement the live games but elswhere media coverage tends to be more locally based. Whilst local newspapers and radio stations may provide decent coverage of teams from their town or county, national media output is more limited. That does change somewhat when it comes to the play-offs though, largely as this links into wider coverage given to the Premier League.
EFL Championship Trivia
Check out our top 10 pieces of Championship trivia and keep them to hand whenever you need to impress your next (football-loving) date, show off some hipster cool around Premier League fans, or just bore your friends!
- Wealthy – The Championship is the richest non-top-tier league in the world based on cumulative revenue.
- Attendance – It is also one of the best-attended leagues in the world, with an average attendance in the 2018/19 season of over 20,000 (for reference, Ligue 1 in France was under 23,000 and Serie A was 25,000). In 2016/17, it was the third-best attended league in Europe, beating both of those, and La Liga!
- Big Fish – In the 2016/17 season, Newcastle United had an average attendance of over 51,000 in the Championship!
- Goals – In 2021/22, Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic banged in 43 league goals, a record in the Championship era. He smashed the previous record of 31, set a year earlier by Brentford’s Ivan Toney. He even beat the all-time second-tier record of 42, set by Guy Whittingham in 1992/93.
- Man City Second-Tier Kings – City have some way to go to catch Man United in the top flight but they have won the second-tier title more than any other club. Both they and Leicester have seven titles to their name.
- History – Dating back to 1892, when it was founded as the Football League Second Division, the Championship is one of the oldest football leagues in the world.
- Original Members – The first season saw 12 clubs taking part, including the likes of Bootle, Burton Swifts, Darwen and Northwich Victoria.
- First Champions – Small Heath won the first ever title in 1892/93. The club has changed names a few times but became Birmingham in 1905 and Birmingham City in 1943.
- Championship: One of Four – Only five clubs have won the second tier, and the other three top levels of English football. Wolves, Preston, Burnley, Portsmouth and Sheffield United have completed this historic quadruple.
- Loss Kings – In 1898/99, Darwen lost 18 consecutive games in the then-Second Division. No side in English football (top four divisions) can match that!