Queen's Park Rangers can confirm promotion, subject to next week's Football Association hearing into contract irregularities, with a point at Vicarage Road today.
The proviso is, however, a weighty one with one newspaper yesterday claiming Rangers would be docked so many points by the FA they would be dropped into the play-offs.
The FA issued a strongly worded statement disassociating it from comments by 'any alleged FA source' while the club said they would not comment until the verdict. That is due on Friday with the hearing beginning on Tuesday. If QPR are dumped out of the automatic promotion places they will appeal, but they do not have to formally do so until 20 May. The play-off semi-finals are scheduled to be completed by 17 May with the final at Wembley on 30 May. Clearly a verdict which deducts sufficient points from Rangers to prompt an appeal will plunge the Championship's finale into chaos.
First Rangers have to secure promotion which they are by no means certain to do today. While Watford have dropped out of contention for a play-off place, they were the first team to beat QPR this season when they won 3-1 at Loftus Road in December. Rangers' nearest rivals, Norwich City and Cardiff, do not play until Monday, but Nottingham Forest could secure the final play-off place if they beat Scunthorpe, Millwall fail to win at home to Swansea, and there is a stalemate between Leeds and Burnley in the lunch-time kick-off at Elland Road.
In League One Brighton's rivalry with Southampton sharpens the spotlight on the champions' match against Saints' promotion rivals Huddersfield. Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager, will be waiting for news of Brighton's team after suggesting, perhaps in jest, that Gus Poyet would field a weakened team. However, there is no love lost between the Brighton manager and Huddersfield either. During his team's defeat in Yorkshire in December Poyet upset Huddersfield manager Lee Clark by waving an imaginary red card in an attempt to have Peter Clarke dismissed.
What Can Be Decided
QPR will be promoted with a point at Watford while a draw for Reading at Coventry would clinch a play-off place. Scunthorpe and Sheffield United are down unless they win and Crystal Palace and/or Doncaster lose.
Bournemouth can claim the final play-off spot if they win at Hartlepool, or Leyton Orient lose to Tranmere. Dagenham and Bristol Rovers are down if they lose and Walsall beat Charlton.
Wycombe are promoted if they win and Shrewsbury lose. Barnet are relegated if they lose, Northampton and Lincoln win, and Hereford at least draw.