Every season, without fail, the English second tier provides widespread drama, from several clubs clamouring for the top two promotion berths, to multiple sides in contention for the play-offs, a conclusion often reached on the final weekend.

Then there’s the relegation scrap, that routinely features a whole clutch of struggling candidates. 

Whisper it quietly, but for sheer jeopardy the Championship so often puts the Premier League in the shade.


These 20 superbly put-together collectives however were the exception to the rule. They never bothered with peril, or even close competition.

Instead, they pummelled the football betting and allcomers into submission by winning every Saturday and comfortably claiming a much-deserved title.

In doing so, they are among the finest teams to ever grace the second strata. 

Greatest Championship Teams:

  1. Reading – 106 points in 2005/06

  2. Sunderland – 105 points in 1998/99

  3. Newcastle United – 102 points in 2009/10

  4. Leicester City – 102 points in 2013/14

  5. Burnley – 101 points in 2022/23

  6. Fulham – 101 points in 2000/01

  7. Manchester City – 99 points in 2002/03

  8. Chelsea – 99 points in 1988/89

  9. Wolverhampton Wanderers – 99 points in 2017/18

  10. Portsmouth – 98 points in 2002/03

  11. Bolton Wanderers – 98 points in 1996/97

  12. Norwich City – 97 points in 2020/21

  13. Newcastle United – 96 points in 1992/93 

  14. Sunderland – 94 points in 2004/05

  15. Norwich City – 94 points in 2003/04

  16. Nottingham Forest – 94 points in 1997/98

  17. Norwich City – 94 points in 2018/19

  18. Newcastle United – 94 points in 2016/17

  19. Burnley – 93 points in 2015/16

  20. Leeds United – 93 points in 2019/20

Here, we take a closer look at the 20 best teams in Championship history based on points total. The rest never stood a chance. 

Leeds United (2019/20)

After coming unstuck in the Play-Offs in 2018-19, Leeds made sure there was no such risk the following season by racking up 93 points under Marcelo Bielsa.

The football was breath-taking throughout, led by 16 goals from Patrick Bamford. 

All doubts about Bielsa-ball evaporated as the victories continued to rack up throughout the winter months. 

On the penultimate weekend, a West Brom loss guaranteed a long-awaited return from the wilderness for the Yorkshire giants. 

Burnley (2015/16)

Relegated from the Premier League the season before, Burnley broke from normal protocol and decided to not fire their manager.

The decision paid dividends, with Sean Dyche guiding the Clarets back to the top-flight with a dominant campaign.

The pressure was on late into the season with Middlesbrough and Brighton both ultimately reaching the 89-point mark.

An unbeaten streak of 23 games, from late-December to the season’s climax kept their rivals at bay. 

Newcastle United (2016/17)

Like Burnley, Newcastle stuck with Rafa Benitez despite suffering relegation.

Benitez waved goodbye to Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Andros Townsend, but was able to bolster his squad with several usual additions, including Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark and DeAndre Yedlin.

After losing their first two matches of the season, the Magpies cruised through the season. From matchday 12 onwards, they never dropped out of the automatic promotion spots, eventually finishing nine points clear of third. 

Norwich City (2018/19)

Finishing 14th in 2017-18 and losing James Maddison to Leicester in the summer didn’t bode well for the Canaries, who would ordinarily be considered promotion candidates due to their yo-yo pedigree. 

In response to their Maddison sale they made a couple of under-the-radar moves, bringing in Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia, both of whom were little known. 

Pukki netted 29 times as the Canaries finished 11 points ahead of third-placed Leeds while Buendia finished with 20 goal involvements. 

Such numbers meant Norwich were soon back to featuring prominently in the Premier League relegation odds, their short price compounded by a heavy opening day loss at Anfield. 

And so the yo-yoing continued. 

Nottingham Forest (1997/98)

So abject were Forest the season before, the Premier League betting had them down by March. To their slightest of credits, they held on until April. 

A huge overhaul therefore was demanded, but while many were shipped out to lessen the wage bill, crucially Pierre van Hooijdonk and Kevin Campbell were retained, striking up a partnership up front that inferior defences had no answer to.

Between them, the deadly duo fired 51 goals across the campaign and Forest bounced straight back up at the first time of asking.

From that point on, it all turned horribly sour of course, the Dutch forward going on strike soon after and Campbell needlessly sold. The Tricky Trees were promptly relegated again, this time having to wait 24 years before they returned. 

Norwich City (2003/04)

Norwich were a force to be reckoned with in the 2003-04 season. They ended the campaign eight points ahead of second and 15 clear of third and didn’t drop out of first place from matchday 23 to their trophy lift. 

There were emphatic wins throughout the season, with a 5-0 trouncing of Walsall, four put past Derby and a 4-1 victory attained at home to Cardiff. Such a successful Championship campaign however didn’t prepare the Canaries for the Premier League. 

Norwich were winless in their first 13 matches in 2004-05 and didn’t win their fourth league match of the season until April. By which time, their fate was all but sealed. 

Sunderland (2004/05)

A heart-breaking penalty shootout loss to Crystal Palace in the play-offs seemed to lead to a hangover for Sunderland in 2004-05. Mick McCarthy’s side won just one of their first six, with pressure understandably mounting. 

In a remarkable turnaround though the Black Cats then lost only one of their next 11, their form trending in the right direction for the duration of the season.  

Winning 11 of their last 13 saw Sunderland claim and retain top spot ahead of Wigan and Ipswich.

Their eventual tally of 94 points seemed utterly inconceivable back in September. 

Newcastle United (1992/93)

Kevin Keegan replaced Ossie Ardiles in February of 1992, reinvigorating Newcastle and keeping them in the Second Division on the final day of the season. Keegan remained at the club for 1992-93, carrying that momentum into a magnificent campaign.

Andy Cole and Rob Lee arrived, and Newcastle stormed to promotion. They moved to top of the table at matchday six and never relinquished first place.

The football was textbook Keegan with 92 goals scored from a team that sought to attack at every opportunity. Subsequently, the St James’ Park faithful were treated to several heavy victories throughout the season.

Just 12 months later, the Magpies finished third in the Premier League, with Cole scoring 41 times across all competitions. 

Norwich City (2020/21)

As a perennial yo-yo club, it’s no surprise to see Norwich make multiple appearances on this list and here their 2020/21 vintage was similar in personnel to the side which collected 94 points in 2018-19, with Pukki and Buendia again starring.

Daniel Farke kept his side top of the table from matchday 12, with a nine-match winning run through February and March giving the East Anglian club plenty of breathing space.

Unfortunately, a season later saw an overly-familiar tale. Norwich lost their first six in the Premier League, Farke was replaced by Dean Smith in November and they finished bottom of the table with 22 points.

Never change, Norwich. Actually, do change. 

Bolton Wanderers (1996/97)

Bolton were one of the toughest teams around in 1996/97 and the Trotters gave Burnden Park a fantastic send off to win the second tier title.

In a team well-balanced with seasoned veterans and emerging talents, John McGinlay scored 24 league goals, while Nathan Blake added 20 of his own as Bolton topped the 100 goals mark.

Bolton were minutes away from hitting the 100 points mark too but Tranmere Rovers scored a late equaliser to put a slight dampener on proceedings. 

Portsmouth (2002/03)

The Fratton Park faithful will remember the good old days when Portsmouth were in the Premier League while their 2002/03 season was a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the Championship to get there.

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Harry Redknapp meant business and he acted effectively in the transfer window before the season, bringing Tim Sherwood and Yakubu to the south coast.

Meanwhile, Svetoslav Todorov just couldn’t stop scoring. He notched 26 league goals that campaign to fire Portsmouth to a comprehensively-secured crown.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (2017/18)

Wolves were outstanding in 2017/18, leading the way at the top of the Championship table for the majority of the season.

Nuno’s side fell short in their bid to top 100 points as they suffered an embarrassing defeat to already relegated Sunderland on the final day of the campaign.

The likes of Ruben Neves, the most expensive Championship player of all-time, Diogo Jota and Willy Bony were central to Wolves’ success and they are now an established Premier League outfit.

Chelsea (1988/89)

The only 1980s side on this list, Chelsea finished 17 points clear of the field. However, the Blues started slowly, failing to win any of their opening six games of the season.

For the rest of the campaign, Chelsea averaged an astonishing 2.4 points per game. That is the best ratio of any team in Championship history.

Chelsea were fancied for the title after dropping out of the Premier League but the Blues exceeded expectations.

On paper, this side may rank as the best Championship team in terms of pure quality.

Manchester City (2001/02)

Man City yoyoed between the top flight and the second tier for five consecutive seasons but their 99 points haul in 2001/02 ranks as one of the top campaigns in the division.

The Citizens scored 108 league goals – just the 47 more than second-placed West Bromwich Albion.

Kevin Keegan’s side were undoubtedly the Championship entertainers and with an aging Ali Benarbia as ringmaster they were a joy to watch.

To sum up Keegan’s City in a set of results: the Blues won 6-2, 5-2, 4-2, 3-0 and 3-0 but lost 4-0, 4-0 and 4-3 during an eight game stretch early in the campaign.

Fulham (2000/01)

Fulham were unstoppable in 2000/01 as the Cottagers booked their spot in the top flight of English football for the first time since the 1960s.

By Christmas, a team propelled by Louis Saha’s avalanche of goals were 10 points clear of their nearest rivals and had a game in hand. Bluntly, they just looked a class apart.

With five matches remaining, Fulham had secured promotion but they had the magic 100 points total in their sights. A 2-0 win in their 44th match of the season was enough to do just that.

Burnley (2022/23)

Burnley’s decision to hire Vincent Kompany following their relegation in 2022 raised some eyebrows.

Kompany’s approach was quite a change from the Sean Dyche era, but the Clarets were clearly going in a different direction after losing James Tarkowski, Nathan Collins, Nick Pope, Dwight McNeil and Maxwel Cornet.

Money was reinvested into the first-team squad and though Kompany didn’t have the best start, winning just one of their first five league matches, it soon became clear that this was a perfect match.

Either side of the World Cup break, Burnley won 14 of 15 to build an unassailable lead. Promotion was confirmed in early April with a massive advantage built up over a strong Sheffield United side. 

Leicester City (2013/14)

Leicester defied the odds to run away with the Championship title in 2013/14 and though they were later found guilty of breaking Financial Fair Play rules for that season all the signs were positive that they could hold their own in the top-flight the season after. 

Which they did. Just. Staying up by a handful of points.

And then came the fairy tale, a frankly ridiculous title success that made a mockery of all of the Premier League predictions. Made a mockery of us all. 

None of that unforgettable madness would have been possible had new signing Riyad Mahrez not bewitched every Championship full-back he encountered two years prior, as Nigel Pearson’s side ran amok.   

Newcastle United (2009/10)

Having suffered relegation in 2008/09, Newcastle were determined to clinch promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Magpies fans needn’t have worried.

Chris Hughton became the master of rotating the Newcastle squad – and he did it to great effect, using a total of 33 players in Championship fixtures alone.

The Magpies went unbeaten at home for the entire campaign as the likes of Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Shola Ameobi showed their class to lead Newcastle to the title.

Sunderland (1998/99) 

‘Cheer up, Peter Reid,’ so the song goes, but the manager with resting glum-face was certainly happy with the team’s output at the turn of the century, the Mackems setting a new points tally for the second tier.

Additionally, the Black Cats reached the League Cup semi-finals, propelled by the prolificacy of Kevin Phillips who was on fire that term, averaging almost a goal per game. 

A solid back-line played its part too, as Sunderland conceded a goal every 147 minutes all season long. 

Reading (2005/06)

Sunderland’s points record didn’t last long as Reading put together a season to remember in 2005/06, accruing a colossal haul of 106 points.

The Royals had a front four consisting of Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, and Leroy Lita and this sublime attacking quartet – backed up by Steve Sidwell kicking on from midfield – notched just one shy of a century of league goals. 

All told, Steve Coppell’s side lost only two games all season, with one of those coming on the opening day of the campaign. Their exploits have yet to be matched.

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.