English Football Leagues and Competitions

England has been one of the top footballing countries for many, many years. England has 4 main leagues with even more beneath and features a relegation and promotions system for the best and worst teams in each league. In this article, we are going to be taking a deep dive into English football, discussing the colleagues within as well as English knockout tournaments such as the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Papa John’s Trophy. 

England National Team

Before we look at England’s domestic leagues, first let’s talk about their national team. England’s national team, despite their lack of trophies, has been filled with legendary players throughout the years. England has won 1 world cup. This team featured legendary players such as Bobby Moore and Sir Bobby Charlton. 

The current England side has been one of the most successful England teams in recent years despite not actually winning any silverware. This current team, managed by Gareth Southgate, finished 4th in the 2018 World Cup, was Runners-up in the 2020 Euros and reached the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup. This team, led by Captain Harry Kane and other talented players such as Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, will surely be one of the favourites for the upcoming Euro 2024 held in Germany. 

English Premier League

The Premier League is the top league in England and features 20 teams. The Premier League began in 1992 and was a rebranding of the First Division, which was founded in 1888. Today it is one of the biggest football divisions in the world and features some of the best and most historic teams in world football. For example, the Premier League is home to Liverpool, one of the best-performing teams in the Champions League and Manchester City, the most recent Treble winners. The Premier League is one of the very best leagues and therefore is also home to some of the very best managers, such as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Erik Ten Hag. 

EFL Championship

The Championship is the second tier within the English pyramid and features 24 teams. The Championship, similarly to the Premier League, is a rebranding that took place in 1992. The winning club receives the EFL Championship trophy and promotion to the Premier League. Second place also earns promotion to the Premier League, while the next 4 clubs are entered into a tournament-style knockout round. The winner is promoted. The bottom three clubs are all relegated, just like the Premier League. This competition features many historic English clubs, such as Leeds United, Leicester City, Southampton, and Sunderland. 

League One

League One is the second-highest division of the English Football League and the third tier overall in the English football league system. Football League One is a rebrand of the former Football League Second Division, which itself is a rebrand of the Football League Third Division. The League One rebranding took place during the 2004-05 season. Once again, there are 24 teams, with 3 being eligible for promotion and with 4 being eligible for relegation. This league features a wide array of top clubs eyeing up a spot in the elusive Championship. 

League Two 

League Two is at the bottom of the English Football League and the 4th highest division in English football. Rebranded in 2004, it used to be named Division Three and Division Four before that. Once again, this league has 24 teams; however, in this division, 3 teams earn automatic promotion, with 1 winning the league and teams from 4th to 7th entering a promotion playoff. Only two teams are relegated from League Two each season. One notable team in this League is Wrexham, who are currently owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. 

National League 

The National League or otherwise known as the Vanarama National League, is the highest level of the National League system but the fifth-highest overall division in England and is the final national league. Every league below this is split into regional-based competitions. There are 24 clubs in the National League, with promotion being offered to 2. The top team wins the National League. Teams that finish 4th-7th enter the knockout round. Winners then move on to the semi-final, where they play teams that finish 2nd and 3rd. The winner of that goes into the playoff final, and that game decides who gets promoted to League Two and joins the English Football League. Some notable teams in the National League are Hartlepool United and York City. York City have an exciting new owner, whereas Hartlepool United will be looking to bounce straight back to the football league. John Askey is an experienced manager and we can see them pushing for the National League title.

EFL Trophy 

The EFL trophy, otherwise known as the Papa Johns trophy, is an annual English Association football knockout competition that was formed in 1981; however, its structure was reformed to what we know it today in 1983. The tournament has gone through lots of changes throughout the years; however, as of today, it is a competition featuring teams from League One, League Two and Premier League Academies. The academy teams were introduced into the competition in 2016. All participating teams are entered into a group stage. The two qualifying teams are then put into a knockout-style tournament until a winner is announced. The most recent winners were Bolton Wanderers, who won the trophy for the second time in their club’s history. 

FA Cup 

The FA Cup is the biggest and most prestigious trophy in England, excluding the Premier League trophy. Founded in 1871, the FA Cup is a knockout competition that features clubs from the Premier League all the way down to step 9 of the football pyramid. For reference League Two is considered step 4 and is the final league within the EFL (English Football League). There are multiple preliminary rounds where teams from steps 9 and 8 verse each other in order to qualify. Every round, teams from the step above are introduced. This continues for four rounds until the first round of the competition finally begins. The new ‘first round’ will feature teams from League One and League Two alongside the best teams from Step 5 to Step 9. The first and second rounds are played, and then in the third round, teams from the Premier League and Championship are introduced. The tournament then continues in a knockout-style fashion until the winner is crowned. The current winners of the FA Cup are Manchester City, who win it alongside the Premier League and Champions League.