2002–03 Football League First Division
(1st divisional title)
Brighton & Hove Albion
|Goals scored||1512 (2.71 per match)|
|Top goalscorer||Svetoslav Todorov
|Biggest home win||Nottm Forest 6–0 Stoke,
Wolves 6–0 Gillingham
|Biggest away win||Millwall 0–6 Rotherham|
|Highest scoring||Grimsby 6–5 Burnley,
Burnley 4–7 Watford
|Longest winning run||7 games
|Longest unbeaten run||15 games
|Longest winless run||16 games
|Longest losing run||12 games
Brighton & Hove Albion
The 2002–03 Football League First Division (referred to as the Nationwide First Division for sponsorship reasons) was the tenth season under its league division format as the second level of English football.
Portsmouth won the division to return to the Premier League after a fifteen-year absence. In Harry Redknapp's first full season in charge the team secured the title on 27 April, with a victory over Rotherham, having been promoted with four games to spare by defeating Burnley.
Leicester City were promoted at the first attempt following their relegation. Their promotion was contentious as they entered administration during the season due to debts in excess of £50 million stemming from their loss of Premier League income and major investment in a new stadium, but were able to write-off these entirely when a new consortium took control and therefore avoided having to sell off players. Following this incident, the Football League would introduce rules that penalised any club entering administration with a ten-point points deduction; although Leicester would still have finished in second place had been this been applied.
Wolverhampton Wanderers won the play-offs to reach the modern-day Premiership for the first time after a 3–0 win in the play-off final against a Sheffield United team which had reached the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions. This marked a return to top flight football for Wolves after a nineteen-year exodus that had seen them fall as low as the fourth tier. Also leaving the division were Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton & Hove Albion and Grimsby Town, who were all relegated.
Team changes from previous season
- Joining the First Division
Relegated from the Premiership:
Promoted from the Second Division:
- Leaving the First Division
Promoted to the Premiership:
Relegated to the Second Division:
Stadia and locations
- Note 1: Wimbledon rented the use of Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park home.
Personnel and sponsoring
|Team||Outgoing manager||Manner of departure||Date of vacancy||Position in table||Replaced by||Date of appointment|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||Peter Taylor||Resigned||29 April 2002||Off season||Martin Hinshelwood||15 July 2002|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||Martin Hinshelwood||Moved to director of football position||7 October 2002||24th||Steve Coppell||7 October 2002|
|Stoke City||Steve Cotterill||Resigned to become assistant manager at Sunderland||10 October 2002||15th||Tony Pulis||1 November 2002|
|Ipswich Town||George Burley||Sacked||11 October 2002||19th||Joe Royle||28 October 2002|
|Sheffield Wednesday||Terry Yorath||Resigned||31 October 2002||22nd||Chris Turner||7 November 2002|
|Crystal Palace||Trevor Francis||Mutual consent||18 April 2003||11th||Steve Kember||23 May 2003|
|Derby County||John Gregory||Sacked||9 May 20032||18th (end of season)||George Burley||5 June 20033|
- Note 2: Although Gregory was dismissed on this date, he had already been suspended from his post on 21 March after "serious allegations" were made against him.
- Note 3: Burley was initially appointed on 31 March as interim manager following John Gregory's suspension.
||Qualification or relegation
|1||Portsmouth (C) (P)||46||29||11||6||97||45||+52||98||Promotion to the 2003–04 FA Premier League|
|2||Leicester City (P)||46||26||14||6||73||40||+33||92|
|3||Sheffield United||46||23||11||12||72||52||+20||80||Qualification to the First Division Playoffs|
|5||Wolverhampton Wanderers (O) (P)||46||20||16||10||81||44||+37||76|
|12||Preston North End||46||16||13||17||68||70||−2||61|
|22||Sheffield Wednesday (R)||46||10||16||20||56||73||−17||46||Relegation to the 2003–04 Second Division|
|23||Brighton & Hove Albion (R)||46||11||12||23||49||67||−18||45|
|24||Grimsby Town (R)||46||9||12||25||48||85||−37||39|
Updated to games played on 11 May 2003.
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished:
(Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (RQ) = Qualified to the relegation tournament indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament.
|Month||Manager of the Month||Notes|
|September||Micky Adams||Leicester City|||
|December||Gary McAllister||Coventry City|||
|January||Neil Warnock||Sheffield United|||
|March||Joe Royle||Ipswich Town|||
- "English League Championship Stats – 2011–12". Statto.com.
- "English League Championship Stats: Team Attendance". ESPN.
- "Portsmouth 3-2 Rotherham". BBC Sport. 27 April 2003.
- "Portsmouth promoted". BBC Sport. 15 April 2003.
- "Leicester City put into administration". BBC News. 22 October 2002.
- "League to punish stricken clubs". BBC News. 25 September 2003.
- "Wolves back in big time". BBC Sport. 26 May 2003.
- "Taylor quits Brighton". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 29 April 2002.
- "Hinshelwood given Brighton job". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 15 July 2002.
- "Seagulls go for Coppell". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 7 October 2002.
- "Cotterill quits Stoke". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 10 October 2002.
- "Pulis gets Stoke job". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 1 November 2002.
- "Ipswich sack Burley". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 11 October 2002.
- "Royle eyes promotion". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 28 October 2002.
- "Yorath quits Wednesday". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 31 October 2002.
- "Turner handed Owls post". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 7 November 2002.
- "Francis leaves Palace". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 18 April 2003.
- "Palace appoint Kember". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 23 May 2003.
- "Gregory suspended by Derby". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 21 March 2003.
- "Derby sack Gregory". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 9 May 2003.
- "Burley takes over at Derby". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 31 March 2003.
- "Burley relishes Derby challenge". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 5 June 2003.
- "Manager of the Month: August 2002". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: September 2002". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: October 2002". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: November 2002". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: December 2002". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: January 2003". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: February 2003". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: March 2003". League Managers Association.
- "Manager of the Month: April 2003". League Managers Association.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2003). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2003/2004. Queen Anne Press. p. 496. ISBN 1-85291-651-6.