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When are EFL play-offs 2023/24?

The 2023/24 EFL play-offs have now all been decided, as four teams from each of the Championship, League One and League Two fight it out for just one promotion spot in a winner-takes-all game at Wembley Stadium.

Read on for all you need to know about this year's EFL playoffs.

EFL Play-offs

The glory of winning the Championship – the second-tier in English football – speaks for itself with a title and automatic entry to the Premier League for the following season.

Second place in the highest Football League division carries the same reward, but is there anything more dramatic, and coveted than the third promotion spot that is gained by winning the play-offs at the iconic Wembley Stadium?

The EFL play-offs are a very English phenomenon given how the process differs from playoffs in other countries due to the format for deciding on promotion from League 2, League 1 and the Championship.

The jump out of the EFL into the Premier League carries the most prestige and glamour but the overall system is very much a collective thing with the EFL, given the meritocracy which means a club can in theory rise from the fourth tier to the pinnacle of English football in four years.

This finale to the EFL season certainly works. It's popular and it allows several teams to reach for glory beyond winning the league. The play-offs are one of the undisputed unique selling points of the EFL.

Wembley Stadium for EFL Championship play-off final | When will the EFL play-offs 2023/24 take place?
Wembley is the host for the EFL play-off finals | Photo: Darren Woolley/Focus Images Ltd/Icon Sport

How does promotion and relegation work in the EFL?

The play-offs have an impact on all three EFL leagues as well as the Premier League above it, and the National League below it in the football pyramid.

Every year, three teams go up from the Championship to the Premier League. As mentioned above, the champions and runners-up are promoted automatically, with the last promotion spot decided by two-legged semi-finals involving those who finished between third and sixth place during the regular season, followed by the winner-takes-all final at Wembley.

Three are relegated from the Premier League to replace them.

The same process happens at the bottom of the Championship with the sides placed 22-24 relegated to League One, with a similar up and down system deployed in that division as well as League Two.

In a nutshell, the end of a football season in England often marked the beginning of something bigger, as teams begin to battle it out for the bigger price of promotion or against relegation. EFL playoffs, before the final at Wembley, is often the most-watched football spectacle. If you put aside the money involved, the prestige and grandeur of becoming an elite club, plying its trade in the EPL is unmatched.

When do the EFL play-offs 2023/24 take place?

The final games of League One and League Two will take place on Saturday, April 27, with all games taking place simultaneously. Championship games will conclude a week later on Saturday, May 4.

Then the playoffs get underway with the same four-team process as the final battles of the season are fought. The third-placed team in the league table takes on the sixth-placed team, while the fourth plays fifth.

Dates for the play-offs

Championship: Final day – Saturday, 4 May

Play-off first legs:        Norwich vs Leeds – Sunday, 12 May 12noon

West Brom vs Southampton: Sunday, 12 May 2:15pm

Play-off second legs:  Leeds vs Norwich – Thursday, 16 May 8pm

Southampton vs West Brom: Friday, 17 May (20:00 BST)

Final: Sunday, 26 May (Kick-off TBC)

 

League One: Final day – Saturday, 27 April

Play-off first legs:         Barnsley vs Bolton – Friday, 3 May 7.30pm

Oxford vs Peterborough – Saturday, 4 May 7.45pm

Play-off second legs:   Bolton vs Barnsley – Tuesday, 7 May 8pm

Peterborough vs Oxford – Wednesday, 8 May 8pm

Final: Saturday, 18 May 16:15

 

League Two: Final day – Saturday, 27 April (15:00 BST)

Play-off first legs:        Crawley vs MK Dons – Monday, 6 May 3pm

Crewe vs Doncaster – Monday, 6 May 5.30pm

Play-off second legs:  MK Dons vs Crawley – Thursday, 9 May 8pm

Doncaster vs Crewe – Friday, 10 May 8pm

Final: Sunday, 19 May 13:00

Who were the last EFL play-off winners?

In 2022/23, the Championship play-off final was won by Luton Town after a hard-fought contest. It meant the Hatters secured top-flight football for the first time since 1991/92, the year before the formation of the Premier League.

They saw off Coventry City on penalties, following a 1-1 draw in normal time.

The two sides had disposed of Sunderland and Middlesbrough, respectively, to earn their shot at glory.

Luton Town won the EFL Championship play-off final in 2023, celebrating here as they beat Luton Town on penalties
Luton won the most recent Championship play-off final | Photo: David Klein/Sportimage/Icon Sport

The League One play-off final was won by Sheffield Wednesday whilst Carlisle United were victorious in the League Two decider.

Overall, the play-offs have proven to be an enduring success for the EFL and the clubs involved. A late run of form in the regular season can be very profitable in more ways than one, with some outsiders known to finish strong to Wembley.

It guarantees more finance for those involved with the lure of further gains as well as a definite success for Sky and the TV audience. The playoffs are here to stay, the only question that matters is who will be involved at the business end of the 2023/24 season?

How is the 2023/24 EFL Playoff race?

The 2023/24 EFL playoff race has been as exciting as ever. While Leagues One and Two have been decided, it's well worth tuning in to the final day of Championship action with the table still as tight as it has been all season.

How much is winning the EFL Championship play-off worth?

‘The richest game in football' is a tag that is often attached to the Championship play-off final, given the significance of the finances involved with promotion to the Premier League.

In previous years, clubs in the second tier were used to operating on more modest budgets but recently the bigger clubs have flexed their muscle in terms of transfer fees and wages offered to players. Much of that comes via participating in the top league and make no mistake, that is where they want to be.

According to information provided by Deloitte, winning the play-off prize at Wembley amounts to around £130 million in revenue for the winning club. It highlights the scale of figures as well as the extent of the challenge with many of the big boys who lie in wait.


Graeme Hanna

A long-term Rangers season-ticket holder and switched-on football writer with a passion for fan culture, Graeme Hanna is a freelance writer who has featured in titles such as The Rangers Review, Glasgow Evening News and Give Me Sport, as well as having a long association with Follow Follow fanzine. He joined Football Ground Guide in September 2023 and stated that Juan Roman Riquelme is the best opposition player that he has seen at Ibrox. Graeme experienced a 36 hour supporters bus journey from Glasgow to Florence for the 2008 UEFA Cup semi-final and has attended games in several European counties with a particular interest in German fan culture.

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