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Rotherham gains promotion to Championship

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After one season down in League One, the Millers are returning to the Sky Bet Championship in 2018/19.

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Rotherham United defeated Shrewsbury Town, 2-1, in extra time on Sunday at Wembley Stadium to reach the Championship.

Regulation wasn’t enough to decide the League One playoff final, but Richard Wood brace ensured his side, Rotherham, would reach the English second division ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Wood did superbly to volley home his squad’s second goal in the first half of extra time, after a brilliant Joe Newell set piece curled into the path of the defender.

Shrewsbury equalized around the hour mark when Alex Rodman calmly placed the ball beyond goalkeeper Marek Rodak from close ranger after a perfectly-executed set piece that caught the Millers off guard.

The first half went largely in favor Rotherham though, having taken the lead in the 32nd minute through Wood’s header to the bottom left corner.

The lead should have been larger though heading into halftime, but David Ball’s early penalty kick was saved by Shrews keeper Dean Henderson in the ninth minute to keep the match scoreless at the time.

American owner Short writes off Sunderland debt, sells club

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Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes.

Relegated in consecutive seasons, troubled club Sunderland announced the departure of manager Chris Coleman on Sunday.

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Minutes later, it announced a change in ownership, hopefully solving a club crisis.

Embattled American owner Ellis Short is leaving the Northeast England club now headed to League One on the heels of a 20th place finish in the Football League Championship.

Short has sold the team to Stewart Donald, and says he has paid off the debts of the club while rejecting higher paying offers in favor of the best one for the direction of Sunderland.

For all the rough times and damage done to the club, those are class gestures. Here is Short’s statement, via the Sunderland site:

“It is no secret that I have been trying to sell Sunderland, but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“Overall, my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons. I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner. To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected, and I have paid off all debts owed by the club to leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

“Assuming that Stewart and his group win EFL approval, it only remains for me to wish them, and all associated with the club, the very best for the future. I will be a Sunderland fan for life, and hope to return as a fan to watch them climb back to where they belong.”

Donald will be the new owner, once approved by the English Football League, and will relinquish control of the current club he owns: Eastleigh FC. The Chronicle says he also has a stake in Oxford United of League One.

Donald has experience with righting a debt-ridden ship, having done the trick at Eastleigh. He hopes that serves him well:

“Eastleigh and Oxford are different cases to each other and, of course, smaller than Sunderland. The similarity, though, is that there is also a lot that needs to be addressed here, and it needs to be addressed with realism, focus and dedication. For a club with one of the best fanbases, stadium and academies in the UK to find itself in League One is unacceptable.

“We have a carefully thought-through plan to restructure the club, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, to restore its sense of pride and re-connect it with the local community. In short, we are rolling our sleeves up to do what needs to be done to ready this club to start competing again.”

Good luck to Sunderland. It’s been a brutal run, as it was just two years ago fans were flying banners over Newcastle’s stadium when the rivals were relegated.

Sunderland relegated for second-straight season

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It’s one-and-done for Sunderland in the Championship, though not in the way expected by most  supporters of the Black Cats.

[ RECAP: WBA 2-2 Liverpool ]

Relegated from the Premier League under David Moyes‘ guidance last season, Sunderland lost Saturday to leave them six points back of safety with two to play.

But either Burton Albion or Bolton will get at least a point from a match against each other, meaning Sunderland would need at least seven when all is said and done.

  • Twenty-one clubs have been relegated since the start of the 2010-11 season.
  • Six have sunk as low as League One (including Sunderland)
  • Seven returned to the Premier League (including Wolves for 18-19)
  • Ten are currently in the Championship

It’s a message to all Premier League sides expecting favorite status in the Championship, including likely relegation side West Bromwich Albion.

Here’s how the most recent sides have fared since dropping out of the top flight.

Relegated sides this decade, and current status
*club still alive for 2018-19 promotion to Premier League
#club could be relegated from current league

Hull City (2016-17) — Championship
Middlesbrough (2016-17) — Championship*
Sunderland (2016-17) — Relegated to League One
Newcastle United (2015-16) — Returned to PL in one season
Norwich City (2015-16) — Championship
Aston Villa (2015-16) — Championship*
Hull City (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance, then relegated last season
Burnley (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance
Queens Park Rangers (2014-15) — Championship
Norwich City (2013-14) — Has since been promoted, relegated back to Championship
Fulham (2013-14) — Championship*
Cardiff City (2013-14) — Championship*
Wigan Athletic (2012-13) — promoted to Championship for 2018-19
Reading (2012-13) — Championship#
Queens Park Rangers (2012-13) — Since promoted, relegated back to Championship
Bolton (2011-12) — Championship#
Blackburn (2011-12) — League One*
Wolves (2011-12) — Promoted to Premier League this season
Birmingham City (2010-11) — Championship#
Blackpool (2010-11) — League One
West Ham United (2010-11) — Promoted at first chance, still PL

Wigan boss defends fans after pitch-storming

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Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook is defending his supporters following a memorable upset of Manchester City in the FA Cup.

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Latics fans stormed the pitch at the DW Stadium, a celebratory but dangerous scene which included “disturbances” between supporters of both clubs and a confronration between fans and Sergio Aguero.

But it takes just a look at the above photo to see both sides of the issues, as the photographer at right catches fans and players celebrating together… while Aguero rages behind him.

From Sky Sports:

“You’ve got to remember the pure emotions of the night for Wigan fans,” he said.

“They didn’t really turn up to see us win – that’s the truth of it. I’ve got a picture of my son in the directors’ box – he’s only 12 – with his head in his hands looking at the floor because he couldn’t watch.

“We certainly don’t want to see fans engaging with players. The players’ protection is absolutely paramount. But also the supporters enjoying that moment is a good thing for me.”

There is, also, this photo to show the other side of the scenario. Ultimately in our era, this type should sadly be prevented to defy the potential for the latter. That’s sad, but it’s a litigious world.

Dan Burn of Wigan Athletic celebrates. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pochettino says FA needs to move FA Cup match at Rochdale

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Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t just think his side shouldn’t have to contest their fifth round FA Cup match with Rochdale at Spotland Stadium.

He thinks maybe Rochdale shouldn’t be playing there.

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The Football Association, however, doesn’t harbor those concerns regarding the tie, which will see Spurs hope to avoid the upset that befell fellow London side Millwall.

The pitch didn’t look great on television, which is what formed Pochettino’s opinion. From the BBC:

“I think it is a big risk to play on a pitch like this, if the pictures give us an accurate state. If it is like what I saw in the pictures I don’t think you can play football.

“Not because we are Tottenham – Rochdale I think too cannot play there. It is a massive risk for their players too. The FA needs to go in and take a good decision for football.”

Rochdale CEO Russ Green wasn’t impressed with complaints from the last round, saying, “We didn’t endanger anybody’s careers and I don’t care if it’s a Tottenham player or a Millwall player – they are still professional footballers.”

The field will have seven days to regenerate and recoup its best form after Rochdale hosts Fleetwood Town on Saturday, and it’ll likely be much ado about nothing.*

*Until a player pulls a hammy.