A Beginners Guide to English Soccer Leagues

The English Soccer leagues are made up of 57 leagues, with a total of 84 divisions which are provided through the English Football League (EFL) and Premier League (EPL).

As much as we would love to guide you through each league, it makes more sense to guide you through the top four and their corresponding competitions, as you are less likely to find available bets for these.

The four leagues include the Premier League, Championship League, League one, and League two.

Before going into detail about each league, let's quickly cover the rules of soccer.


There are 22 players on the field, 11 for each team.

The classic formation is a 4-4-2, the positions are as follows:

Goalkeeper: Protector of the goal.

Two Fullbacks: Positioned on the left and right of the defensive line of players.

Two Center Backs: Positioned in front of the goalkeeper, commanding the center of the defensive line of players.

Two Central Midfielders: Positioned in the center of the pitch, shifting between defensive and offensive responsibilities.

Two Wide Midfielders: Positioned on the left and right wings of the pitch, responsible for commanding the sidelines, both offensively and defensively.

Two Strikers: Positioned at the forefront of the team, leading the offense as they progress forwards and mainly responsible for scoring goals.

The formation played will vary from team to team and game to game. Some managers prefer certain play styles that suit certain formations, while some teams may choose a specific formation that suits their best player.


Fouls: A foul in soccer will result in a free kick or penalty, depending on where the foul is committed. The player may be disciplined in some way, possibly by showing them a yellow or red card, or even just a verbal warning for more minor offences.

A red card signals an immediate ejection from the game, while a yellow card is a mere warning. If a player receives two yellow cards, it is followed by a red card and the player will be ejected from the game.

Offside: If the player is standing beyond the final defender in the opposition's half of the field, then they are considered offside. If they receive the ball in an offside position, the referee will blow the whistle for a stoppage of play and a free kick is awarded.

Advantage: When a foul occurs, the referee doesn't always have to stop play and award a free kick or penalty.

The referee can allow play to continue if the team that is fouled has possession and a good opportunity to progress the ball to their advantage. This is done to encourage the continuous flow of the game that makes soccer unique to sports like baseball and football.


English soccer leagues use the same points systems to determine the table standings. If a team wins a game, they earn 3 points, if it's a draw both teams get 1, and if you lose you get 0. If 2 teams have the same amount of points it then depends on the goal difference.

Premier League

To those outside of the UK, you may know the Premier League as the English Premier League, which was launched in 1992 and rapidly became one of the biggest football leagues in the world.

The PL consists of 20 teams and each team plays 38 matches, they will face each other twice, home and away. The season takes place between August and April, without a winter break unlike other leagues.

The final standings indicate which teams will make it into the European competitions and who will be relegated into the league below the PL, the Championship.

For those wondering, what is relegation in the Premier League? It is the 3 teams that finish at the bottom of the league, they are moved to the Championship and will need to fight for the way back to the Premier League the next season.

Those that finish in the top 5 at the end of the season will get the chance to take the European crowns in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Teams that finish in the top 4 will qualify for the Champions League and 5th place will qualify for the Europa League.

It’s possible for the clubs that finish in 6th and 7th to also qualify for the Europa league, but this depends on the winners and runners-up of the FA Cup and League Cup. If the winner of the FA Cup qualifies for the Champions League, this spot will go to the runner-up, and if the runner-up is also already qualified, then that place will go to the next-best placed finisher in the Premier League.

Premier League teams (as the league currently stands):

  • Arsenal
  • Manchester City
  • Newcastle
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Manchester United
  • Brighton and Hove Albion
  • Chelsea
  • Liverpool
  • Fulham
  • Crystal Palace
  • Brentford
  • Leeds United
  • Aston Villa
  • Leicester City
  • West Ham
  • Everton
  • Bournemouth
  • Southampton
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Nottingham Forest
Manchester City Premier League Getty Images 1319686530

Credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images

EFL Championship

Despite being a second tier league, the EFL Championship is surprisingly popular among soccer fans in the UK.

The Championship is known to be one of the most entertaining football leagues there is, although the quality isn’t quite the same as the Premier League, La Liga, and so on, it is gripping.

Like the Premier League, they play from August to May and each team will play against each other twice. There are 24 teams in the league, with a total of 46 matches played.

The team that finishes at the top of the league at the end of the season will be promoted to the Premier League, as will the runner up. Those from 3rd to 6th also have a chance of being promoted but this is determined in playoff matches.

The teams play in a tournament format and 2 teams will then face each other at Wembley Stadium, the winner will be promoted.

The 3 teams that finish at the bottom of the Championship table will be relegated the second tier of the ELF to League One.

Championship teams (as the league currently stands):

  • Burnley
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Sheffield United
  • Norwich City
  • Watford
  • QPR
  • Preston
  • Swansea
  • Luton Town
  • Birmingham
  • Millwall
  • Coventry
  • Reading
  • Rotherham
  • Stoke City
  • Middlesbrough
  • Sunderland
  • Cardiff City
  • Hull City
  • Bristol City
  • Blackpool
  • West Brom
  • Wigan Athletic
  • Huddersfield

Credit: IMAGO/PA Images/John Walton

League One

EFL League One, also known as Sky Bet League One is the second highest tier of the English Football League (EFL).

The league consists of 24 teams, again, each team will play each other twice, making a total of 46 games.

Similar to the other leagues, the top 2 are automatically promoted, 3rd-6th place will then compete in play-offs to determine the third promoted side.

In League One, 4 teams are relegated rather than 3 this time round.

League One teams (as the league currently stands):

  • Plymouth Argyle
  • Ipswich Town
  • Sheffield Wednesday
  • Peterborough
  • Portsmouth
  • Bolton
  • Derby County
  • Barnsley
  • Charlton
  • Shrewsbury
  • Port Vale
  • Exeter City
  • Wycombe
  • Lincoln City
  • Fleetwood
  • Oxford United
  • Bristol Rovers
  • Cambridge United
  • Cheltenham
  • Accrington Stanley
  • MK Dons
  • Morecambe
  • Forest Green
  • Burton
League one

Credit: Getty Images

League Two

EFL League Two, also known as Sky Bet League Two with a total of 24 clubs and 46 games.

At the end of the season, the final standings determine which teams will qualify for the second tier of English Soccer Leagues (EFL) , League One. In this case, it is the top 3 teams that will be promoted, those that finish in 4th-7th will have to compete in playoffs to guarantee their spot.

The 2 teams that finish at the bottom of the table will be relegated to the National League.

League One teams (as the league currently stands):

  • Leyton Orient
  • Stevenage
  • Northampton Town
  • Barrow
  • Bradford cITY
  • Carlisle
  • Salford City
  • Mansfield Town
  • Tranmere
  • Doncaster
  • Walsall
  • Grimsby Town
  • Stockport
  • AFC Wimbledon
  • Crewe Alexander
  • Sutton United
  • Newport County
  • Harrogate Town
  • Gillingham
  • Hartlepool
  • Colchester
League 2

Credit: BBC