The English Football League One, currently sponsored by Npower, is the third tier of the English League system behind the Barclays Premier League and Football League Championship.
It was rebranded for the 2004-2005 season after previously being recognised as the Football League Second Division and Football League Third Division prior to the inauguration of the Premier League in 1992.
The league comprises of 24 clubs competing over a home and away round robin structure of 46 games.
The top two clubs at the end of the season attain automatic promotion to the Football League Championship, whilst clubs who finish in the bottom four are relegated to Football League Two.
Clubs who finish in between 3rd and 6th place enter a semi-final/final play-off system at the end of the season to determine who will attain the third promotion berth to the Football League Championship. The semi-finals are played over an aggregate of home and away fixtures whilst the final is played neutrally at Wembley towards the end of May and is a highly prestigious occasion.
Leeds United are arguably the biggest club to appear in Football League One since its rebranding in 2004/2005 after suffering a double relegation on the back of financial problems.
The Yorkshire Club played three seasons in the division before finally achieving promotion back to the Football League Championship at the end of the 2009/2010 campaign, although they did not manage to win the division.
Leeds’s presence in Football League One undoubtedly gave the division a great deal of weight and added massively to its public and media interest, with home attendances often matching those of the bottom clubs in the Premier League.
Other former Premier League teams such as Nottingham Forest, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday have also participated in the division after suffering significant decline, emphasising that the quality of the lower divisions in England has improved in terms of quality over the last few years despite the gulf in class between divisions expanding.
From a betting perspective, Football League One can be an extremely hard league to fathom before a ball has even been kicked – and often that is even the case until the very latter stages of the season.
Many clubs, who are relegated into the division, struggle to adapt to the smaller venues and worse conditions they have to play in, as well as being able to cope with the pressure of their supporters to make a swift return to the Football League Championship.
Generally, matches are extremely competitive and largely unpredictable, with many teams being able to beat anyone else ‘on their day’.
Promoted clubs from Football League Two often make a good transition and are not to be discounted, particularly as they are growing in stature and brimming with confidence.
Being a middling tier, the division can often bring together clubs who have achieved former glories (such as Leeds United) and others who may have worked their way out of non-league football just a couple of seasons earlier.
This in all creates a varied mix of clubs and makes the division extremely difficult to get out of. Come the end of the season, the play-offs are perhaps the best opportunity to place a solid bet as the form of the previous 46 games can be fully taken into account, including which of the four teams involved has been in the best form leading into the play-off phase.
Often, it is the club which finishes the season strongest who prevails at Wembley and seals a place in the Npower Championship for the following campaign.