The Football League Second Division was the second level division in the English football league system between 1892 and 1992. Following the foundation of the FA Premier League, it became the third level division. Following the creation of the Football League Championship in 2004–05 it was re-branded as Football League One.
In 1888, Scotsman William McGregor a director of Aston Villa, was the main force between meetings held in London and Manchester involving 12 football clubs, with an eye to a league competition. These 12 clubs would later become the Football League's 12 founder members. The meetings were held in London on 22 March 1888. The main concern was that an early exit in the knockout format of the FA Cup could leave clubs with no matches for almost a year; not only could they suffer heavy financial losses, but fans did not wait long without a game, when other teams were playing. Matters were finalised on 17 April in Manchester.
McGregor had voted against the name The Football League, as he was concerned that it would be associated with the Irish Land League. But this name still won by a majority vote and was selected. The competition guaranteed fixtures for all of its member clubs. Geographically, these were split equally between the North and the Midlands.
A rival English league called the Football Alliance operated from 1889 to 1892. In 1892 it was decided to formally merge the two leagues, and so the Football League Second Division was formed, consisting mostly of Football Alliance clubs. The existing League clubs, plus three of the strongest Alliance clubs, comprised the Football League First Division.
The Second Division was formed in 1892 with 12 clubs, most of which had previously played in the Football Alliance. The original members were: Ardwick (now Manchester City), Bootle, Burton Swifts, Crewe Alexandra, Darwen, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, Northwich Victoria, Port Vale, Sheffield United, Small Heath (now Birmingham City), and Walsall. Manchester City and Leicester City jointly hold the record for most second tier championships (7).