The race for Premier league promotion may be intensifying with the play-offs approaching. One team from a possible four has the chance to be playing in the Premier League next season.
Dubbed the “richest match in football” the Play-off final offers the winning team and those having already qualified a bounty of 230 million pounds for entering the Premier League, mainly from television rights. The play-offs period is both an appealing and arduous experience for football fans. After a season of hard work and commitment, players may find a cup competition style play-off to be like an unpredictable Russian roulette. The determining factor on which teams enter the Premier League is based on two games (both knockouts), one of these teams qualifies, the other spends next season in the Championship. The top two teams automatically qualify to the top tier and side step this dramatic playoff.
With Burnley being crowned Championship champions over the weekend and automatically promoted to the Premier League, another automatic promotion spot is still to be decided. The question of which other teams follow, may undoubtedly be answered by the end of May. A team in good form may enter the play-offs in healthy confidence and fortune whereas teams with notable absences may find chance plays a significant part in the club’s destiny.
With one Championship league game remaining 5 teams are guaranteed of at least a playoff position; Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Hull City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Middlesbrough. The latter two are the only teams now capable of getting the last automatic spot based on points gained. Brighton and Hove Albion seem to go into the last game of the season in slightly better form although Middlesbrough are in second position equal on points and with a better goal difference which may be important.
Middlesbrough may want to evade the play-offs after last seasons defeat in the play-off final to Norwich and may have further impetuous to clinch the last (2nd place) automatic spot. Middlesbrough were outclassed on the day which meant Norwich returned to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Middlesbrough’s last game versus Brighton Hove Albion to be played at the Riverside stadium kicks off on Saturday at 12.30pm. Already a sell out, the game may be a promotion decider, the conquered team however still has the luxury of promotion through the play-offs. Middlesbrough recruits this season have strengthened the squad particularly top scorer Jordan Rhodes arriving in January from Blackburn. On loan Adam Reach has been impressing at Preston North end and may return next season to provide further optimism to the Teesiders.
Brighton go into the game in good form wining 5 and drawing once; at home to Derby County on Monday. A 3-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough in December and a four match winless run started an impressive push by Chris Hughton’s men to get back in the promotion race scoring 40 goals since January (70 total) in comparison to Boro’s 29 (60 total).
Hull city have also had a productive season having the same goal difference as Brighton although unsuccessful at relegated Bolton on Saturday, the club may represent a true prospect for promotion. In comparison to Brighton and Middlesbrough Hull may have shown more irregular form towards the end of the season having been top of the table in mid-February. Sheffield Wednesday and Derby county two points behind Hull city may still have an opportunity in the two-game play-offs.
After Leicester City’s story all Championship teams may now be able to dream of getting into the Premier League, staying there and the possibility of success. The teams showing greater consistency over the league season may have an advantage in terms of keeping clean sheets and goal scoring ability. However, the play-offs may be an unpredictable cup competition where anything may happen and it probably might. The play-offs begin on the 13th of May and the final is at Wembley on the 28th of May.
Which teams might be promoted from the championship to the Premier League via the play-offs?