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Three points for a win

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Title: Three points for a win  
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Subject: 2011 Copa Sudamericana, 2010 Copa Sudamericana, 2011 Copa Libertadores, 1994 FIFA World Cup, Draw by agreement
Collection: Association Football Terminology
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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 2 points for a win and 1 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. However, some league championships have been decided on the difference in draws among teams.


  • Rationale 1
  • History 2
    • Year of adoption of 3-points-for-a-win 2.1
  • Variants 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


"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 the lead.[2] The number of matches finishing in a draw has not been affected in England by the change to three-points-for-a-win.[3] The average number of goals per match in Turkey (top division football) has risen significantly by 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. The change became vital quickly as it affected Paraguay, which would have finished with the most points in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Group D; it also affected New Zealand in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group F, which was eliminated, but would have advanced on goal difference under previous point systems. 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.[15]


Some leagues have used shootout tiebreakers after drawn matches. Major League Soccer (1996–2000) used three points for a win, 1 point for a shootout win, 0 points for a shootout loss, 0 for a loss.[15] The Norwegian First Division (in 1987) and the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and its lower divisions (in 1988) used three points for a win, 2 points for a shootout win, 1 point for a shootout loss, 0 for a loss.[16][17]

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.[18] Instead the NHL awards 2 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 zero for a regulation or overtime loss.[19] 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.

See also


  1. ^ Wilson, Paul (2007-03-18). "Mawhinney's big idea has as much appeal as American cheese".  
  2. ^ a b c Leapman, Ben (2005-09-15). "How three points for a win has fouled up football".  
  3. ^ Murray, Scott; Ingle, Sean (2001-02-21). "DRAWS, DRAWS, DRAWS".  
  4. ^ Alper Duruk. "Average number of goals per match in Turkish League". Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  5. ^  
  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. ^ "Greece - Final Tables 1959-1999". 2003-08-07. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  11. ^ "Bulgaria Championship History 1924-1997". Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "Croatia - Prva HNL". Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  14. ^ "A Recap: Red Cards, TV Woes, Goodbye Dukla". Prague Post. 3 August 1994. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  15. ^ a b 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.
  16. ^ RSSSF - Norwegian First division 1987 "A 3-2-1-0 point scheme with drawn matches decided on penalties was used."
  17. ^ 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."
  18. ^ "NHL general managers give universal thumbs down to three-point wins".  
  19. ^ "CCHA Teams to Receive Three Points for a Win This Season".  

External links

  • NHL Standings Under Three Point System
  • Guardian commentary 2009
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