At the end of each English football season, teams are promoted and relegated to and from all the leagues of the pyramid. Some of this is automatic and based on table position, but the rest is via playoffs. And this year’s playoffs have already begun.
In this post I am going to track the playoffs from levels two through five of the league system in England. That includes the Premier League, the three levels of the Football League, and the top level of the National League, which is connected to the lowest level of the Football League.
(Updated May 17, 2019, with Sunderland and Charlton confirmed for the League One Playoff Final at Wembley. Skip ahead here to see the games listed by date.)
From the Football League Championship up to the Premier League
With Norwich City (right) and Sheffield United claiming the two automatic spots, teams 3-6 in the table will compete in the playoff. That’s Leeds United, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Derby County.
We’re officially lined up for a semifinal of West Brom vs Aston Villa, a West Midlands Derby which should be epic.
Here’s the schedule for the Championship Playoffs (all times UK):
- Saturday May 11: Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion; Derby County 0-1 Leeds United.
- Tuesday May 14: West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Aston Villa, Second Leg. Villa advance to Final on penalties.
- Wednesday May 15: Leeds United 2-4 Derby County, Derby advance to Final, 4-3 on aggregate
- Monday May 27: Final at Wembley, 3 p.m.: Aston Villa v Derby County.
From League One up to the Championship
Same format as above. Luton Town and Barnsley are already up, and the playoffs are Portsmouth, Sunderland, Charlton, and Doncaster Rovers.
The rest of the League One schedule:
- Saturday May 11: Sunderland 1-0 Portsmouth, Leg 1.
- Sunday May 12: Doncaster Rovers 1-2 Charlton, Leg 1.
- Thursday May 16: Portsmouth v Sunderland, Leg 2, 7:45 p.m.
- Friday May 17: Charlton 2-3 Doncaster Rovers, Leg 2, 7:45 p.m. Finishes 4-4 after extra time, Charlton advance on penalties.
- Sunday May 26: Final at Wembley, 3 p.m., Sunderland v Charlton
From League Two up to League One
Here it’s the top three that go up, followed by a playoff for the fourth position. Lincoln City, Bury and MK Dons are already up, and the playoffs will include Mansfield Town, Forest Green Rovers, Tranmere Rovers, and Newport County.
The res of the League Two schedule:
- Thursday May 9: Newport County 1-1 Mansfield Town, First Leg.
- Friday May 10: Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Forest Green Rovers, First Leg.
- Sunday May 12: Mansfield Town 0-0 Newport County, Second Leg. That made it 1-1 on aggregate, and Newport County won on penalties, 5-3.
- Monday May 13: Forest Green Rovers 1-1 Tranmere Rovers, Second Leg. Tranmere advance 2-1 on aggregate.
- Saturday May 25: Final: Newport County v Tranmere Rovers at Wembley, 3 p.m.
From the National League up to Football League Two
The champions, Leyton Orient, are up. The second spot will go to the winner of a playoff with Solihull Moors, Salford City, Wrexham, AFC Fylde, Harrogate Town, and Eastleigh.
In quarterfinals, AFC Fylde knocked out Harrogate Town, 3-1, and Eastleigh won at Wrexham, 1-0. In the semis, Fylde won at Solihull Moors and Salford beat Eastleigh on penalties.
The rest of the National League schedule:
- Saturday May 11: AFC Fylde 0-3 Salford City at Wembley; Salford City qualify for League Two.
The English Football League Playoffs by Date
Here we go, sorting all of this by day instead of by league. Home teams are listed first. Again, all times are UK.
Wednesday May 1
National League Quarterfinals: AFC Fylde 3-1 Harrogate Town
Thursday May 2
National League Quarterfinals: Wrexham 0-1 Eastleigh
Saturday May 4
National League Semifinals: Solihull Moors 0-1 AFC Fylde
Sunday May 5
National League Semifinals: Salford City 1-1 Eastleigh; Salford advance on penalties.
Thursday May 9
League Two Semis Leg 1: Newport County 1-1 Mansfield Town
Friday May 10
League Two Semis Leg 1: Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Forest Green Rovers
Saturday May 11
Championship Semis Leg 1: Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
National League Final at Wembley: AFC Fylde 0-3 Salford City. Salford goes to Football League Two
Championship Semis Leg 1: Derby County 0-1 Leeds United
League One Semis Leg 1: Sunderland 1-0 Portsmouth
Sunday May 12
League One Semis Leg 1: Doncaster Rovers 1-2 Charlton
League Two Semis Leg 2: Mansfield Town 0-0 Newport County. Finished 1-1 on aggregate, County advance 5-3 on penalties.
Monday May 13
League Two Semis, Leg 2: Forest Green Rovers 1-1 Tranmere Rovers. Tranmere advance to Final, 2-1 on aggregate.
Tuesday May 14
Championship Semis Leg 2: West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Aston Villa. Finishes 2-2 aggregate, Villa advance to final on penalties.
Wednesday May 15
Championship Semis Leg 2: Leeds United 2-4 Derby County, Derby advance 4-3 on aggregate.
Thursday May 16
7:45 pm: League One Semis Leg 2: Portsmouth 0-0 Sunderland. Sunderland win 1-0 on aggregate.
Friday May 17
League One Semis Leg 2: Charlton 2-3 Doncaster Rovers. Finishes 4-4 after extra time, Charlton advance on penalties.
Saturday May 25
3 pm: League Two Final at Wembley: Newport County vs Tranmere Rovers. Winner goes to League One.
Sunday May 26
3 pm: League One Final at Wembley: Sunderland v Charlton. Winner goes to Championship.
Monday, May 27
3 pm: Championship Final at Wembley: Aston Villa v Derby County. Winner goes to Premier League.