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How many points does it really take to gain promotion in the EFL?

Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Portsmouth all won their league titles this season, amassing 281 points between them. But, on average, how many points does it take to gain promotion in each of those respective divisions; League Two, League One and the Championship.

We take a look back at recent history to find out.

League Two

Over the past ten years, Gillingham are the team to win League Two with the lowest points total, reaching just 83 in the 2012/13 season, which was miraculously still enough to win the title. Northampton won the league with the most points, gaining 99 in the 2015/16 season.

The average number of points among title winning sides is 90.1, meaning that the likelihood of getting anything above 90 points is more than likely good enough to win the division.

To avoid the play-off lottery, it takes an average of 82.6 points to gain that 3rd automatic promotion spot in League Two, with both Wycombe in 2008/09 and Port Vale in 2012/13 earning the final automatic spot with just 78 points, an EFL-wide low.

Hereford finished 3rd with a league-high 88 points in 2007/08, around six points above the average needed to get the final automatic spot.

Both Wolves and Sheffield United reached the 100-point mark in their title winning seasons, gaining 103 in 2013/13 and 100 in 2016/17 respectively.

Doncaster managed to win the division with the lowest points total over the past decade, getting just 84 in their title winning campaign in 2012/13, but only one other side managed to win the league with less than 92 points, Wigan did so with 87 points in the 2015/16 season.

The average points total to win League One is by far the highest of the three English divisions, with an average of 95.2 points needed to secure the title. That means that to win England’s third division, a team must probably reach the mid-90s to secure the trophy.

To avoid the play-off lottery, the average points needed to finish 2nd in League One is 88.1.

Brentford finished with a mammoth 94 points in 2013/14, which would have seen them win the league three times over the past decade, but they still earned enough points to earn automatic promotion. 94 points is also the highest total in the EFL over the past ten years that has not seen the side win the title.

The lowest points total to earn the 2nd automatic promotion spot in League One came in 2007/08, when Nottingham Forest finished with 82 points, some six points below the average needed to get that spot over the past decade.


In the EFL’s top division, both Leicester, in 2013/14, and Newcastle, in 2009/10, reached the Premier League with a points totals of 102, the joint highest over the past decade.

West Brom won the 2007/08 title with a record low of just 81 points – usually not even good enough for a top two spot, never mind the title – and only three other sides won the division with less than 90 points; Cardiff in 2012/13 with 87, QPR in 2010/11 with 88 and Reading in 2011/12 with 89.

The average points total to win the Championship is 91.6, meaning that to secure the title and automatic promotion to the Premier League, a team must reach at least the early 90s to have a shot at the title on an average year.

To avoid the play-offs, on average a team needs 86.8 points to get the 2nd automatic promotion spot to the Premier League.

Both Hull and Stoke finished with the lowest points totals for a 2nd placed team over the past ten years, finishing with 79 points in 2012/13 and 2007/08 respectively, around eight points fewer than the league average.

In 2016/17, Brighton finished with 93 points, just under seven points above the league average, and Burnley did the same in 2013/14.


Although there are clear fluctuations with league averages and a varying amount of league totals in different seasons, there are enough patterns to be able to come to a conclusive total on how many points are needed in each league to go up automatically.

But overall, including each league into a total promotion average, the total points needed to win an EFL division title is 92.3 points on average, and to earn automatic promotion, teams throughout the EFL would need to amass 85.8 points.

The gap between the title and automatic promotion in League Two is 8 points, whereas in League One the gap is 7 points. In the Championship, the gap is just 5 points on average.