||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
|Number of teams||24|
|Level on pyramid||2 (1992–2004)
|Promotion to||Premier League (1992–2004)|
|Relegation to||Second Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||FA Cup
Full Members Cup (1985–1992)
|International cup(s)||European Cup (1956–1985, 1991–1992)
European Cup Winners' Cup (1960–1985, 1990–1999)
UEFA Cup (1971–1985, 1990–2004)
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1955–1971)
|Last champions||Norwich City
The First Division was a division of The Football League between 1888 and 2004 and the highest tier in English football until the creation of the Premier League in 1992, when the highest division in the reduced Football League became the second tier in English football. Since a 2004 rebrand it has been known as the Football League Championship.
The Football League was founded in 1888 by Aston Villa director Charlie Fossey. It originally consisted of a single division of 12 clubs (Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke (now Stoke City), West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers), simply known as The Football League. When the League admitted additional members from the rival Football Alliance in 1892, it was split into two divisions; the original League was expanded (the two best Alliance members joining) and renamed the First Division, while the rest of the Alliance members were admitted into the Second Division.
For the next 100 years, the First Division was the undisputed top professional league in English football. Then, in 1992 the 22 clubs making up the First Division elected to resign from the Football League and set up the Premier League. They did so largely to capitalise upon their status as the biggest and most wealthy clubs in the country, and negotiate more profitable television rights. The Football League was consequently re-organised, with the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions now renamed the First, Second and Third respectively. Thus, the First Division, while still the top level of the Football League, now became the second level of the entire English football league system. The top clubs inherited the promotion playoff system from the old Second Division.
The First Division initially consisted of 12 founder clubs; since then it has undergone a series of expansions as football became more popular and the number of quality teams increased. There were also a series of contractions in the late 1980s, although they were soon reversed, as follows:
|No. of teams||From||To|
† as the second tier of professional football in England from 1992
|First tier of English football
Football League Second Division
|Second tier of English football
Football League Championship
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