Football League One play-offs
The Football League One Play-offs are a series of play-off matches, contested by the teams finishing from 3rd to 6th in the NPower Football League One table to determine the third spot for promotion to the second tier of English football, the Championship.
The record attendance for a League One Play-off final at Wembley was the 1999 final, when Manchester City played Gillingham and the attendance stood at 76,935.
|1987–1992||Football League Third Division play-offs|
|1993–2004||Football League Second Division play-offs|
|2005–||Football League One play-offs|
The current system of the League One play-offs uses two semi-finals played over two legs, with 6th playing 3rd and 5th playing 4th, with the return fixtures following. For the two-legged semi-finals, there is no away goals advantage such as those in the knock-out rounds of European competition. The Final is played at Wembley, although from 2001 to 2006, it was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff while Wembley was being rebuilt.
Aside from the branding changes which affected English football in 1992 and 2004, the League One play-offs have also changed in format. The last alteration occurred in 1995, when the restructuring of the league meant 2nd to 5th contested the play-offs.
When they started in 1987, the play-offs originally featured a second-tier team and three third-tier clubs. This format was continued for 1988, but discontinued afterwards. The first winners of the playoffs at this level were Swindon Town, who were promoted to the Second Division in 1987 at the expense of Gillingham, who had already condemned Sunderland to the Third Division for the first time in their history.
The final was originally held over two legs, but both the 1987 and 1988 finals went to a third match at Selhurst Park and Fellows Park respectively. In 1989, the playoffs were two-legged affairs featuring the third, fourth, fifth and sixth place teams, with Port Vale being the successful side on this occasion.
From 1990, the final has been a single-match affair, being held at Wembley, or the Millennium Stadium between 2001 and 2006, apart from the 2011 final, which was moved to Old Trafford as Wembley was in use for the Champions League Final. The first winners of the one-match final were Notts County, who went on to win the Second Division playoff final a year later.
The first time to win promotion from the third tier via the playoffs on more than one occasion were Walsall, who won promotion in 1988 and again in 2001 via this route. Peterborough United (1992 and 2011) and Huddersfield Town (1995 and 2012) have since matched this.
Note: These are only for play-offs at League One level, for overall records in the Football League play-offs see here.
- Most play-off promotions: 2 – Huddersfield Town, Peterborough United, Walsall
- Most play-off participations: 7 – Brentford (1991, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2013), Huddersfield Town (1992, 1995, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012)
- Most unsuccessful play-off participations: 7 – Brentford (from 7 in total)
- Teams without any unsuccessful play-off participations: Walsall (1989, 2001), West Bromwich Albion (1993), Burnley (1994), Bradford City (1996), Grimsby Town (1998), Manchester City (1999), Brighton & Hove Albion (2004), Sheffield Wednesday (2005), Barnsley (2006), Doncaster Rovers (2008), Scunthorpe United (2009) and Rotherham United (2014)
- Biggest aggregate win: Bristol Rovers 5–0 Fulham (1989)
- Biggest home win: Doncaster Rovers 5–1 Southend United (Semi-final, 2008)
- Biggest away win: Fulham 0–4 Bristol Rovers (Semi-final, 1989)
- Biggest win in a final: Preston North End 4–0 Swindon Town (2015)
- Highest scoring final: 6 goals – Hartlepool United 2–4 Sheffield Wednesday (2005)
- Highest scoring play-off match: 10 goals – Swindon Town 5–5 Sheffield United (Semi-final, 2015)
- Highest scoring tie (aggregate): 13 goals – Swindon Town 7–6 Sheffield United (2015)
- Highest attendance: 76,935 – Gillingham vs Manchester City (Final, 1999)
- Lowest attendance: 4,931 – Crewe Alexandra vs Notts County (Semi-final, 1996)