Three points for a win

Last updated

Three points for a win is a standard used in many sports leagues and group tournaments, especially in association football, in which three (rather than two) points are awarded to the team winning a match, with no points awarded to the losing team. If the game is drawn, each team receives one point. The system places additional value on wins compared to draws such that teams with a higher number of wins may rank higher in tables than teams with a lower number of wins but more draws. [1]

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

A draw or tie occurs in a competitive sport when the results are identical or inconclusive. Ties or draws are possible in some, but not all, sports and games. Such an outcome, sometimes referred to as deadlock, can occur in politics, business, and wherever there are different factions regarding an issue.


Many leagues and competitions originally awarded two points for a win and one point for a draw, before switching to the three points for a win system. The change is significant in league tables, where teams typically play 30–40 games per season.


"Three points for a win" is supposed to encourage more attacking play than "two points for a win", as teams will not settle for a draw if the prospect of gaining two extra points (by playing for a late winning goal) outweighs the prospect of losing one point by conceding a late goal to lose the match. A second rationale is that it may prevent collusion amongst teams needing only a draw to advance in a tournament or avoid relegation. A commentator has stated that it has resulted in more "positive, attacking play". [2] However, critics suggest teams with a one-goal lead late in a match become more defensive in order to defend a lead. [3] [4] [ failed verification ] The average number of goals per match in Turkey's top football division has risen significantly since the change to three points for a win. [5]

The three-point system in ice hockey – in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Sweden – had no effect on the number of goals scored. The same conclusion can be made for relative number of ties. [6]


The system was proposed for the English Football League (then known as The Football League) by Jimmy Hill. [7] It was introduced in England in 1981, [3] but did not attract much use elsewhere until it was used in the 1994 World Cup finals. In 1995, FIFA formally adopted the system, [3] and it subsequently became standard in international tournaments, as well as most national football leagues.

English Football League League competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales

The English Football League (EFL) is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top-level football league in England from its foundation until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League.

Jimmy Hill English association football personality

James William Thomas Hill, OBE was an English football professional and personality. His career included almost every role in the sport, including player, trade union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and assistant referee.

Year of adoption of 3-points-for-a-win

This lists association football leagues where the standard is three points for a win in regulation time, one point for a draw, zero for a defeat. The year given is when the relevant season started.

Israeli Premier League mens association football top division of Israel

The Israeli Premier League, officially The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange League for sponsorship purposes, is a professional association football league which operates as the highest division of the Israeli Football League – the state's league of Israel. The league is contested by 14 clubs, and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with its second division Liga Leumit. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing between 33 to 36 matches each, totalling 240 matches in every season. Five matches are played on Saturdays, with one match played on Sundays and the last one on Mondays.

The National Soccer League is a name given to competitions in which New Zealand's top association football clubs play each other, at least two times, on a home and away basis. At the completion of the competition, the best-performed team is declared as the New Zealand champion. Specifically, the name is usually used for the nationwide league competitions which ran intermittently from 1970 to 2004.

NIFL Premiership mens association football top division of Northern Ireland

The NIFL Premiership, known as the Danske Bank Premiership for sponsorship purposes, and colloquially as the Irish League, is a professional association football league which operates as the highest division of the Northern Ireland Football League – the national league in Northern Ireland. It was formerly called the IFA Premiership until 2013, and is the successor to previous competition formats called the Irish Premier League, Irish Football League Premier Division, and before that simply the Irish Football League. Still known in popular parlance simply as the Irish League, the Premiership was established in 2008 under the auspices of the Irish Football Association before the Northern Ireland Football League was created for the start of the 2013–14 season. At the end of the season, the champion club is presented with the Gibson Cup.

Major League Soccer, based in the United States and also featuring teams from Canada, has awarded three points for a win since its first season of 1996, but initially held a penalty shootout at the end of regulation draws, awarding 1 point to the winner of the shootout and none to the loser. Since 2000, it has allowed ties/draws to stand in the regular season, and follows the international standard of awarding 1 point for a draw. [18] [ failed verification ]

Major League Soccer Professional soccer league in the United States and Canada

Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation which represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The league comprises 24 teams—21 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada and constitutes one of the major professional sports leagues in both countries. The league plans to expand to 28 teams with the additions of Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC in 2020, Austin FC in 2021, and a St. Louis franchise in 2022, with further plans to expand to 30 teams at a later date.


In 1936 there kicked off the first USSR Championship in football among "exhibition teams" (later "teams of masters") instead of cities teams as previously and was conducted as a league's round-robin tournament. The points in tournament were awarded in a format three points for a win, but for a draw was awarded two points and a loss – one point, while no points were awarded for no show.

Some leagues have used shootout tiebreakers after drawn matches. Major League Soccer (1996–2000) used three points for a win, one point for a shootout win, no points for a shootout loss, none for a loss. [18] [ failed verification ] The Norwegian First Division (in 1987) and the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and its lower divisions (in 1988) used three points for a win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss, none for a loss. [19] [20] The same system is adopted in the group stages of the 2016–17 EFL Trophy and 2016–17 Scottish League Cup onward (in both cases, no extra time will be played). The Iraqi Premier League has used two different variants of this system. The first was in the 1988–89 season, where three points were awarded for a win by two or more goals (after normal or extra time), two points were awarded for a one-goal win (after normal or extra time), one point was awarded for a penalty shootout win and zero points were awarded for penalty shootout defeats or defeats after normal or extra time. [21] The second variant was used in the 1994–95 season, where three points were awarded for a one-goal or two-goal win, but four points were awarded for a win by three or more goals. [22]

In the National Hockey League in North America, a system described as "the three point win" was proposed in 2004, with three points for a win in regulation time, two for a win in overtime, and one for a tie. This proposal was put on hold by the 2004–05 NHL lockout and subsequently rejected by team owners in February 2007. [23] Instead the NHL awards two points for a win in regulation or overtime/shootout, one point for an overtime loss, and none for a regulation loss.

International competitions run by the International Ice Hockey Federation award three points for a win in regulation time and zero points for a loss. Games in IIHF competitions are not allowed to end in ties; if a game is tied after regulation each team is awarded one point and a sudden-death overtime followed by a shootout (if necessary) is played, with the winner awarded an extra point (for a total of two points). [24]

In 2009, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association adopted a system of three points for a regulation or overtime win, two for a shootout win, one for a shootout loss, and none for a regulation or overtime loss. [25] The IIHF uses a similar system for its competitions, awarding three points for a win in regulation, two points for a win in overtime or shootout, one point for a loss in overtime or shootout, and no points for a loss in regulation.[ citation needed ]

In all French women's football leagues, a victory gives four points, a draw equals two points and a defeat equals one point. The origins of this system is unclear.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

A penalty shoot-out is a method of determining which team is awarded victory in an association football match that cannot end in a draw, when the score is tied after the regulation playing time as well as extra time have expired. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns shooting at goal from the penalty mark, with the goal only defended by the opposing team's goalkeeper. Each team has five shots which must be taken by different kickers; the team that makes more successful kicks is declared the victor. Shoot-outs finish as soon as one team has an insurmountable lead. If scores are level after five pairs of shots, the shootout progresses into additional "sudden-death" rounds. Balls successfully kicked into the goal during a shoot-out do not count as goals for the individual kickers or the team, and are tallied separately from the goals scored during normal play. Although the procedure for each individual kick in the shoot-out resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked.

In a sport or game, sudden death is a form of competition where play ends as soon as one competitor is ahead of the others, with that competitor becoming the winner. Sudden death is typically used as a tiebreaker when a contest is tied at the end of regulation (normal) playing time or the completion of the normal playing task.

Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are the same. In some sports, this extra period is played only if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or players can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.

The penalty shootout is a method of determining a winner in sports matches that would have otherwise been drawn or tied. The rules for penalty shootouts vary between sports and even different competitions; however, the usual form is similar to penalty shots in that a single player takes one shot on goal from a specified spot, the only defender being the goalkeeper. Teams take turns, with the one with the largest number of successful goals after a specified number of attempts being the winner. If the result is still tied, the shootout usually continues on a "goal-for-goal" basis, with the teams taking shots alternately, and the one that scores a goal unmatched by the other team is declared the winner. This may continue until every player has taken a shot, after which players may take extra shots, until the tie is broken, and is also known as "sudden death".

In ice hockey, point has three contemporary meanings.

An extra attacker in ice hockey is a forward or, less commonly, a defenceman who has been substituted in place of the goaltender. The purpose of this substitution is to gain an offensive advantage to score a goal. The removal of the goaltender for an extra attacker is colloquially called pulling the goalie, resulting in an empty net.

The following are statistics commonly tracked in ice hockey.

In sports, a winning percentage is the fraction of games or matches a team or individual has won. It is defined as wins divided by the total number of matches played. A draw counts as a ​12 win.

In games and sports, a tiebreaker or tiebreak is used to determine a winner from among players or teams that are tied at the end of a contest, or a set of contests.

The season structure of the National Hockey League (NHL) is divided into the pre-season, regular season, and the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the pre-season, which is generally held during the last two weeks of September, each team plays several not-for-the-record exhibition games. In the regular season, which generally runs from early October through early April, teams play 82 games which determine their standings. The three highest-placed teams in each division and two wild card teams per conference enter the playoff elimination tournament to determine the Stanley Cup champion.

In sports, a two-legged tie is a contest between two teams which comprises two matches or "legs", with each team as the home team in one leg. The winning team is usually determined by aggregate score, the sum of the scores of the two legs. For example, if the scores of the two legs are:

In a group tournament, unlike a knockout tournament, there is no scheduled decisive final match. Instead, all the competitors are ranked by examining the results of all the matches played in the tournament. Typically, points are awarded for each match, with competitors ranked based either on total number of points or average points per match. Usually each competitor finishes with an equal number of matches, in which case rankings by total points and by average points are equivalent at the end of the tournament, though not necessarily while it is in progress. Examples with unequal numbers of matches include the 1895 County Championship in English cricket, and the U.S. National Football League prior to 1972, when tie games were excluded from the winning percentage used for regular-season standings.

Professional Inline Hockey Association

The Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA) is an "incorporated for-profit association" which operates an inline hockey league, with two conferences, of 11 franchised member clubs, all of which are currently located in the United States. Headquartered in Middletown, Pennsylvania, the PIHA is considered to be one of the premier inline hockey leagues in the United States. The Founders Cup Finals is held annually to crown the league playoff champion in the Pro and Minor divisions at the end of each season. PIHA also offers divisions for teens, & adults 35-and-over.

The 2006–07 Chicago Blackhawks season was the 81st season for the National Hockey League franchise that was established on September 25, 1926.

Major League Roller Hockey

Major League Roller Hockey (MLRH) is a limited liability company which operates multiple inline hockey leagues and tournaments. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, MLRH is one of the only full-contact inline hockey competitions in the world.

The 1994–95 National Soccer League season, was the 19th season of the National Soccer League in Australia. The season ended with Melbourne Knights winning the championship and minor premiership double.

The 2012–13 KHL season was the fifth season of the Kontinental Hockey League. The regular season began on 4 September with the Lokomotiv Cup between last year's finalists Dynamo Moscow and Avangard Omsk. For the first time, the league consisted of 26 teams from 7 different countries. Dynamo Moscow successfully defended their title after beating Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Gagarin Cup finals.

2018–19 NCAA Division I mens ice hockey season

The 2018–19 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey season began in October 2018 and ended with the Frozen Four in April 2019. This was the 72nd season in which an NCAA ice hockey championship was held, and United States college ice hockey's 124th year overall.


  1. Enrico Franceschini (October 4, 2009). "No more draws in Premier Attack and risk is better". (in Italian).
  2. Wilson, Paul (2007-03-18). "Mawhinney's big idea has as much appeal as American cheese". The Observer . Retrieved 2008-02-13. [...] three points for a win and one for a draw is the best football has yet come up with and has already produced a dramatic increase in positive, attacking play.
  3. 1 2 3 Leapman, Ben (2005-09-15). "How three points for a win has fouled up football". The Evening Standard . Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  4. Murray, Scott; Ingle, Sean (2001-02-21). "DRAWS, DRAWS, DRAWS". The Guardian ("The Knowledge"). Retrieved 2008-02-13.
  5. Alper Duruk. "Average number of goals per match in Turkish League". Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  6. Marek, Patrice (2017). "Effects of Rule Changes and Three-point System in NHL". Aplimat proceedings: 1001–1013.
  7. Kelly, Graham (2003-06-09). "FA should stand firm against proposed new rules on imports". The Independent . Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  8. "Israel - List of Final Tables". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  9. "New Zealand - Final Tables National Soccer League". 2000-09-19. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  10. RSSSF - Norwegian First division 1988 Archived March 8, 2016, at the Wayback Machine "A 3-1-0 point scheme was used for the first time."
  11. "1990–1996". (in Swedish). IFK Göteborg. Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  12. "1991/92 Cypriot First Division". 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  13. "Greece - Final Tables 1959-1999". 2003-08-07. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  14. "Bulgaria Championship History 1924-1997". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  15. Previously applied experimentally in 1982-3, following the trial of a 4 away win, 3 home win, 2 away draw, 1 home draw system in 1981-2. See (Republic of) Ireland League Tables Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Croatia - Prva HNL". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  17. "A Recap: Red Cards, TV Woes, Goodbye Dukla". Prague Post. 3 August 1994. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  18. 1 2 USA - Major League Soccer Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Scoring system:
    2000–present: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.
    1996-1999: Three points for a win, 1 point for a shootout win, 0 points for a shootout loss, 0 for a loss.
  19. RSSSF - Norwegian First division 1987 Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine "A 3-2-1-0 point scheme with drawn matches decided on penalties was used."
  20. RSSSF - Brazilian First division 1988 Archived March 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine "The winner of the match earned 3 points, the winner of a penalties shootouts after a draw earned 2, and the loser of the penalties shootouts earned only 1 point."
  21. 1988–89 Season - Archived July 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  22. 1994–95 Season - Archived July 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  23. "NHL general managers give universal thumbs down to three-point wins". Canadian Press. February 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-02.[ dead link ]
  24. "2015 IIHF Sport Regulations" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  25. "CCHA Teams to Receive Three Points for a Win This Season". Ohio State Buckeyes. 2009-09-28. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2009-10-11.