Championship permutations: What every team needs to win promotion or play-off spot to reach Premier League

Leicester will be a Premier League team next season after claiming the title

Karl Matchett
Saturday 04 May 2024 12:32 BST
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The end of the season is fast approaching in England and while many eyes have been on the Premier League title fight of late, the usual almighty tussle is going on in the second tier to reach the top flight for 2024/25.

In fact, the Championship is currently locked in two massive, and distinct, battles for places: two automatic promotion spots and the four playoff places behind them. Some will be left disappointed after impressive seasons so far, but for others, a shot at some of the biggest clubs in the world lies ahead next year.

Ipswich or Leeds could snare second place and automatic promotion (Getty Images)

Here’s the lay of the land as three teams fight for the top two spots and with the title on the line this week, with another collection battling for the final play-off berths behind them - and what each of them need to happen to earn promotion.

We’ll update this piece after every Championship match; join the discussion below with your predictions on who will be playing in the Premier League next season.

Two from three at the top

All season long there have been two main stories of league leaders in England’s second tier: Ipswich Town’s phenomenal start after only jumping up to the Championship from League One a year ago, and then Leicester City’s comeback story under Enzo Maresca – soured somewhat by the Foxes breaching Premier League profit and sustainability rules. However, they will not be deducted points this term, the EFL has ruled. But two more clubs entered the mix along the way.

Leeds United were hot on the heels of the other two anyway and have traded places with them regularly over the past couple of months. Southampton’s excellent mid-campaign run also saw them propelled into the fray, but a crushing 5-0 defeat to Leicester has knocked them out of the running for good and propelled the Foxes to promotion.

Leeds kept up the pace as they won a thriller - beating Middlesbrough 4-3 - to jump ahead of Ipswich and into the top two. But a thrashing at QPR guaranteed Leicester a top-two finish and handed Ipswich the chance to retake second, which they promptly took thanks at a 2-1 victory away at Coventry on Tuesday evening.

Position

Played

Points (GD)

1. Leicester

45

97 (50)

2. Ipswich Town

45

93 (33)

3. Leeds United

45

90 (39)

4. Southampton

45

84 (23)

So, to what they need:

Leicester have won the title and will be in the Premier League next season. They can still reach 100 points for the season if they win their final fixture.

Ipswich will be automatically promoted if they get one points from their remaining game. After no wins in their last four they clinched a close contest against Coventry to move a step closer to the top-flight.

Leeds must now hope Ipswich lose against almost-relegated Huddersfield as goal difference currently favours Leeds. They will also need to beat Southampton on the final day. Saints’ own hopes of automatic promotion are over but they will be in the playoffs and are now guaranteed to finish fourth regardless of results anywhere.

Playoff drama: who can stay the course?

Norwich’s form makes them a threat in the play-offs (Getty Images)

Naturally, two of the aforementioned quartet are going to fill half of the available play-off spots, Southampton being one.

There is then a gap of 11 points to Norwich in fifth, and they are all-but-certain of a top-six finish barring a mammoth swing in goal difference on the final day.

Behind them, it’s now one from two after Coventry, Preston and Middlesbrough each dropped out of the running in turn.

Position

Played

Points (GD)

5. Norwich City

45

73 (16)

6. West Bromwich Albion

45

72 (20)

7. Hull City

45

70 (9)

8. Middlesbrough

45

66 (7)

9. Coventry City

45

64 (12)

10. Preston North End

45

63 (-8)

Norwich City are one of the form teams in the Championship and have one of the top home records across the entire campaign, making them strong candidates in the playoffs. They can now only drop out if they lose heavily to Birmingham on the final day, West Bromwich Albion get at least a draw and Hull beat Plymouth away - plus seeing more than a seven-goal swing between Canaries and Tigers.

More importantly - and likely - it’s about Norwich matching WBA’s final-day result to ensure they stay above them and take fifth, meaning they’d face Southampton in the semis rather than local rivals Ipswich or Leeds.

West Brom play home to Preston on the final day and a draw will see them sixth on goal difference (again, barring ridiculous scorelines). Coventry can now only reach 67 points, while for Middlesbrough it’s a maximum of 69. Hull must win and hope West Brom lose, in reality.

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