Three points for a win

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 with respect 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.

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. Teams that win roughly 50% of their games are the most affected by the point system.


"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".[1] However, critics suggest teams with a one-goal lead late in a match become more negative to defend lead.[2][3] 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.[4]


The system was proposed for the English Football League by Jimmy Hill.[5] It was introduced in England in 1981,[2] but did not attract much use elsewhere until it was used in the 1994 World Cup finals. In 1995, FIFA formally adopted the system,[2] and it subsequently became standard in international tournaments, as well as most national football leagues.

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.

The United States used this rule only from 2000, but had not used the 2-points rule before.[16]


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.[16] 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.[17][18] The same system will be adopted in the group stages of the 2016–17 EFL Trophy and 2016–17 Scottish League Cup (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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] 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.

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.[22] 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.

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.

See also


  1. 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.
  2. 1 2 3 Leapman, Ben (2005-09-15). "How three points for a win has fouled up football". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  3. Murray, Scott; Ingle, Sean (2001-02-21). "DRAWS, DRAWS, DRAWS". The Guardian ("The Knowledge"). Retrieved 2008-02-13.
  4. Alper Duruk. "Average number of goals per match in Turkish League". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  5. Kelly, Graham (2003-06-09). "FA should stand firm against proposed new rules on imports". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  6. "Israel - List of Final Tables". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  7. "New Zealand - Final Tables National Soccer League". 2000-09-19. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  8. RSSSF - Norwegian First division 1988 "A 3-1-0 point scheme was used for the first time."
  9. "1990–1996". (in Swedish). IFK Göteborg. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  10. "1991/92 Cypriot First Division". 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  11. "Greece - Final Tables 1959-1999". 2003-08-07. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  12. "Bulgaria Championship History 1924-1997". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  13. 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
  14. "Croatia - Prva HNL". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  15. "A Recap: Red Cards, TV Woes, Goodbye Dukla". Prague Post. 3 August 1994. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  16. 1 2 USA - Major League Soccer 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.
  17. RSSSF - Norwegian First division 1987 "A 3-2-1-0 point scheme with drawn matches decided on penalties was used."
  18. RSSSF - Brazilian First division 1988 "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."
  19. 1988–89 Season -
  20. 1994–95 Season -
  21. "NHL general managers give universal thumbs down to three-point wins". Canadian Press. February 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-02.
  22. "CCHA Teams to Receive Three Points for a Win This Season". Ohio State Buckeyes. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2009-10-11.

External links

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