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EFL League One

League One is the third flight league in English football sitting under the EFL Championship and the Premier League. It is the second league in the EFL, which comprises the EFL Championship, League One and League Two. The teams that play in League One can achieve promotion to the EFL Championship by finishing the league in the top two places or by qualifying for and winning the playoffs, and the four teams at the bottom of the table each season are relegated to League Two.


The English Football League, which would be rebranded to the First Division and later become the Premier League, was founded in 1888, three years after the FA permitted professionalism in the sport. In 1892, a second flight was created to involve the new clubs that were being established around that time. By 1920, a national third tier was needed, and so the Third Division was launched.

The Third Division was founded by the clubs that played in the Southern Football League. The inaugural edition of the competition was held in 1920-1921, with 21 clubs from both the North and South of England and 1 Welsh club, Cardiff City. The league was structured so that the winner would be the only team that would achieve promotion. Crystal Palace won the first Third Division, and were promoted to the Second Division. In the following year, 20 new teams joined the English FA, pushing the number of registered clubs from 66 to 86. The FA decided to split the Third Division into two leagues, the North Division and the South Division, to be able to allow the new clubs to join the English Football League. 18 of the new teams joined the Third Division North, whilst two joined the Third Division South, and the rest of the teams in the third flight were placed into the appropriate divisions.

The two leagues had one place for promotion each, which was awarded to the winner of the league. The league was successful and was held in this format until 1958. In this time, numerous teams won the league multiple times: in the North Division, Barnsley, Lincoln City and Doncaster won the league three times, and Grimsby Town, Port Vale, Hull City, Stockport County and Chesterfield all won the league twice. In the South Division, only Bristol City won the league three times, and Ipswich Town, Plymouth Argyle, Notts County, Swansea City, Millwall and Charlton Athletic won the league twice.

In 1958, the league was once again expanded, with the number of clubs in the league extending to 92. It was decided that a Fourth Division should be introduced, and therefore the North and South Division format of the Third Division was abolished. The Third Division became a single league in which 24 teams played and the Division Champions and runners up were promoted to the Second Division. The four teams that finished at the bottom of the table were relegated to the Fourth Division, which had a single league format and 24 teams as well. Plymouth Argyle won the first relaunch of the Third Division in 1959, and Hull City came in second place to also achieve promotion.

In 1974, the promotion and relegation structure was modified so that the top three teams in the Third Division would achieve promotion to the Second Division, with the three teams at the bottom of the Second Division going the other way. This change helped strengthen the competitiveness of both divisions. This was further changed in 1987, when playoffs were created for the third promotion place. The playoffs worked in the following way: the teams that placed 3rd to 5th in the Third Division and the team that placed third from bottom in the Second Division qualified. They played in two knockout rounds, and if there was a tie, then the match would be settled in a replay.

In 1992, the EFL was completely reorganised as the teams in the top flight wanted to break away from the league. The top clubs decided to launch the Premier League, which would become the new First Division and have their own exclusive broadcasting and commercial rights. The EFL was reorganised, with the Second Division being rebranded as the First Division, the Third Division became the Second Division, and the Fourth Division became the Third Division. This lasted until 2004, when the divisions in the EFL were rebranded once more. The top flight in the EFL, the second in the country, became the EFL Championship. The Second Division was renamed as the EFL League One, and the Third Division became the EFL League Two.

Season Structure

There are 24 teams that play in the EFL League One in a season lasting from August to May. The teams play in a double robin round against the other teams in the league, for a total of 42 matches each. At the end of the season, the division champions and the runners up are promoted to the EFL Championship, the second flight of English football and top flight in the EFL.

The next four teams in the table qualify for the League One playoffs. Here, the 3rd placed team faces the 6th placed team and the 4th faces the 5th. They play in a two leg knockout round and the winners then proceed to the playoff finals. The playoff finals are played in Wembley Stadium.

At the bottom of the league table, the four teams that finish in 21st to 24th places are relegated to the EFL League Two.

Fun Facts

Despite being the third flight of league football, the EFL League One can still attract huge attendances. The highest average attendance in a season was over 32,000 for Sunderland in 2019, after they suffered back-to-back relegations, falling from the Premier League to EFL Championship to EFL League One. The highest attendance in a single game came during that season when Sunderland faced Bradford City at home in front of a crowd of 46,000. The average attendance per game in the 2019-20 season was 8,802 per game. The closest third tier football league in another country was the Germany 3 Liga that attracted 6,185.

The EFL League One matches can be extremely high scoring. The player with the best scoring record in a single campaign is Jordan Rhodes, who scored 36 goals for Huddersfield town in 2012. The team did not win the league that year but qualified for the playoffs, which they won after Rhodes scored in the first and second legs of the semi-finals.

Popular Bets

Match Result

This is a bet that relates to how a match will finish. Bets will be available for the home team to win, the away team to win, or for the match to end in a draw.


There are positive and negative handicaps, which are applied to the team’s score at the end of a match. If a person has backed a team, that tea has to win the game with the handicap applied for the bet to pay out. If a negative handicap is set, this will make betting on that team riskier but also lengthen the odds. If a positive handicap is set, this will make betting on a team less risky but also shorten the odds of betting on them.

Total Goals

Punters can bet on how many goals they think will be scored in a game with the total goals bet. Here, there will be numerous betting lines that will define ranges of how many goals may be scored in a game. To place a bet a line needs to be picked, such as 4.5, and then a bet for over or under that number of goals can be made.

Game Props

Props offer bettors the chance to bet on anything from which team will score the first goal to how many yellow cards a team will be given. There are some match related props such as will a team win both halves, the correct score, a team to win with a clean sheet, and more. There are also bets on smaller details of a match such as total corners, total cards, will a certain player score a goal, will there be an even or odd number of goals, and more.

Live Bets

There will be a huge selection of live bets for each game in the EFL League One. These include all the bets listed above as well as some specific live bets such as which team will score the next goal, will a team score the next two goals, will there be a goal in the current half, and more.

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