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Fulham outlasts Cardiff to set up West London Derby playoff final

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It’s going to be aw West London Derby playoff promotion final after Cardiff City and Fulham staged a thrilling second leg at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

Brentford beat Swansea City in the other semifinal to set up

The Cottagers entered the match with a 2-0 advantage earned in Wales but Cardiff put the tie on its ear just two minutes after halftime of the second leg.

[ MORE: FA Cup Final preview ]

The match was 1-1 on goals from Fulham’s Neeskens Kebano and Cardiff’s Curtis Nielson when halftime sub Lee Tomlin cleaned up a back post mess to give the Bluebirds a second away goal to match Thursday’s hosts.

Fulham is bidding to make its absence from the Premier League a one-year problem, while Brentford has not played first-tier football since the 1946-47 season.

Fulham takes hold of playoff tie v Cardiff through two magic goals

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The Football League Championship’s playoff semifinals are half in the books, and the advantages are in the corners of familiar faces for Premier League followers.

[ MORE: Leeds promoted | West Brom, too ]

A day after six-seeded hosts Swansea City beat 10-man third-seed Brentford through a late, sweet Andre Ayew strike, fourth-seed Fulham took hold of its playoff tie with a first leg win at Cardiff City.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Ex-Spurs man Josh Onomah scored a wonderful goal with a mazy dribble at Cardiff City Stadium on Monday to give the Londoners the first of two goals in the 2-0 lead they take back to Wales.

Away goals do not count if the teams finish tied after two legs.

Former PSG youth Neeskens Kebano got the second goal in stoppage time with a delightful free kick (and yes he’s named after legendary Dutch midfielder Johan Neeskens).

Will it be Fulham and Swansea City in the playoff final, vying to join Leeds and West Brom in the Premier League? Fulham was relegated last season, while Swans went down after the 2017-18 campaign.

 

Championship final day preview: Promotion, playoff, relegation scenarios; how to watch

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The EFL Championship final day on Wednesday will be absolutely bonkers. Stay weird, Championship.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

There is still one spot open for automatic promotion to the Premier League, with West Brom, Brentford and Fulham scrapping to move up from the second-tier, while Welsh rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City are in a ridiculously tight battle for the final playoff spot.

ICYMI, Leeds United have already sealed promotion to the Premier League and were crowned champions of the Championship over the weekend.

At the bottom, no team has been relegated yet and seven teams are battling to stay out of the bottom three with Hull, Luton, Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic all still in danger, while Wigan could also be relegated due to financial problems. In conclusion, and as always, the Championship will be chaos. We love it.

Here’s a look at how to watch and stream the Championship final day action, plus the schedule and standings.


Automatic promotion down to the wire

Leeds have sealed the title but below them it is an almighty battle for second. West Brom know a win at home against QPR on the final day will seal promotion but Slaven Bilic’s side have stumbled in recent weeks, while Brentford were on fire before their recent defeat but still have a chance and so too do Scott Parker’s Fulham. Brentford host relegation battlers Barnsley, so both teams will go all-out for the win, while Fulham travel to Wigan who need a win to try and save themselves from relegation as they are due to be hit with a 12-point deduction at the end of the season due to going into administration. So much on the line for all three teams chasing automatic promotion.


Playoff spot up for grabs

Brentford and Fulham have sealed two of the four playoff spots, while Nottingham Forest are also in barring a ridiculously large swing in goal difference on the final day which would see them losing to Stoke City and Swansea wining big at Reading. As for sixth place, it is a battle between bitter South Wales rivals Cardiff and Swansea. Cardiff occupy the final playoff spot and host Hull City, who need a win to stay up, but a point for Cardiff will seal sixth place. However, if they lose and Swansea win, then Swansea will finish sixth on goal difference as Cardiff are on +7 with Swansea on +6.


Relegation situation is wild

Hull sit bottom and the only hope for them is if they win on the final day and Luton, Barnsley and Wigan don’t win, as Wigan’s 12-point deduction would save Hull. Middlesbrough and Birmingham City should be okay but Lee Bowyer’s Charlton are well in the mix. Adding Wigan’s situation into the mix makes it even crazier as their 12-point deduction will kick in after the final whistle on Wednesday.


Championship final day schedule

Birmingham City v. Derby County
Brentford v. Barnsley
Bristol City v. Preston
Cardiff City v. Hull City
Leeds United v. Charlton Athletic
Luton Town v. Blackburn Rovers
Millwall v. Huddersfield Town
Nottingham Forest v. Stoke City
Reading v. Swansea City
Sheffield Wednesday v. Middlesbrough
West Bromwich Albion v. QPR
Wigan Athletic v. Fulham


How to watch Championship final day: Stream, start time

Kickoff: 2:30 pm ET Wednesday
TV Channel: None
Online: Stream via ESPN +


Championship standings

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Leeds United 45 27 9 9 73 35 38 90
2 West Bromwich Albion 45 22 16 7 75 43 32 82
3 Brentford 45 24 9 12 79 36 43 81
4 Fulham 45 23 11 11 63 47 16 80
5 Nottingham Forest 45 18 16 11 57 46 11 70
6 Cardiff City 45 18 16 11 65 58 7 70
7 Swansea City 45 17 16 12 58 52 6 67
8 Preston North End 45 18 11 16 58 53 5 65
9 Millwall 45 16 17 12 53 50 3 65
10 Blackburn Rovers 45 17 12 16 64 60 4 63
11 Bristol City 45 17 11 17 59 64 -5 62
12 Derby County 45 16 13 16 59 63 -4 61
13 Wigan Athletic 45 15 13 17 56 55 1 58
14 Queens Park Rangers 45 16 9 20 65 74 -9 57
15 Reading 45 15 11 19 58 54 4 56
16 Sheffield Wednesday 45 15 11 19 57 64 -7 56
17 Stoke City 45 15 8 22 58 67 -9 53
18 Huddersfield Town 45 13 12 20 51 66 -15 51
19 Middlesbrough 45 12 14 19 46 60 -14 50
20 Birmingham City 45 12 14 19 53 72 -19 50
21 Charlton Athletic 45 12 12 21 50 61 -11 48
22 Luton Town 45 13 9 23 51 80 -29 48
23 Barnsley 45 11 13 21 47 68 -21 46
24 Hull City 45 12 9 24 57 84 -27 45

Who will get promoted to the Premier League? Your Championship primer

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
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The Football League Championship returns on Saturday, as Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion look to keep hold of their automatic promotion places.

It won’t be easy.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man Utd recap | JPW’s 3 Things ]

Here is your guide to the final nine matchdays of the season for England’s second tier.

The top two

Marcelo Bielsa’s Peacocks and Slaven Bilic’s Baggies have 7- and 6-point cushions on third place with nine matches to go, a congested fixture list ready to tax the benches of all of the sides.

The playoff race

Third through sixth in the Championship will contest the playoffs for the third promotion spot to the Premier League.

Third-place Fulham will learn a lot about whether it’s in the race for automatic promotion or just a playoff probability within one week’s time. The Cottagers host fourth-place Brentford at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and go to Leeds one week later.

Fulham has 64 points, six back of second place and nine clear of seventh place. It would be very surprising if the Londoners didn’t keep hold of a playoff spot.

Brentford (60) and Nottingham Forest (60) have five-point advantages on seventh, nice but not too comfortable, while Preston North End’s one-point-above-sixth-place footing is uneven.

Six teams are within two wins of Preston’s 56 points. Seventh-place Bristol City has 55, Millwall and Cardiff City have 54, Blackburn and Swansea City have 53, Derby County has 51, and QPR’s on 50.

Who will get promoted to the Premier League?
Rooney’s Rams are six points behind the playoff places (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Americans Abroad

Speaking of QPR, USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is a fixture for Mark Warburton’s London side. The 34-year-old has played 28 times this season.

Derby County has seen a fine season out of Duane Holmes, who has three goals and three assists. Not American, but ex-DC United man Wayne Rooney is Holmes’ teammate.

No American has played more Championship minutes than Fulham’s Tim Ream (3142). Next up are Wigan’s Antonee Robinson (2587) and Hull City’s Eric Lichaj (2546).

Matt Miazga is handling center back duties for Reading, while Cameron Carter-Vickers’ latest loan stint at Luton Town has gone well individually.

Luca De La Torre (Fulham) has seen neglible minutes this season.

English-born MLS and NCAA star Jack Harrison is with Leeds.

Manchester United academy product Jack Harrison of Leeds United went to school at Wake Forest before playing for NYCFC in Major League Soccer (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

The relegation scrap

Three clubs will go down to League One next season. Two of the three teams in the bottom three will need a massive change in fortunes to avoid that fate.

Barnsley is seven points back of 21st and Luton Town sits six points back of safety.

Charlton Athletic is currently in 22nd with 39 points, but it can look to a single win as chance to move ahead of any of the five sides ahead of it (depending on how goal differential goes).

Hull City, Wigan Athletic, and Middlesbrough are just two points above the drop zone, while Stoke City and Huddersfield Town have three-point distances above the drop.

Charlton can pass Hull with a win at the KC Stadium on Saturday, though it’s only other chance to affect a fellow struggler is July 18 versus Wigan.

This week’s schedule

Fulham v. Brentford — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Middlesbrough v. Swansea City — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday
Millwall v. Derby County — 8 a.m. ET Saturday
West Brom v. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Huddersfield Town v. Wigan Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Hull City v. Charlton Athletic — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday v. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Luton Town v. Preston North End –10 a.m. ET Saturday
QPR v. Barnsley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Reading v. Stoke City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Blackburn Rovers v. Bristol City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Cardiff City v. Leeds United — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

EFL: Promotion, relegation will remain

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The English Football League (EFL) have released details on how they plan to play out the Championship, League One and League Two campaigns as promotion and relegation will continue between the second and fifth tiers of English soccer.

League Two had previously asked for relegation to be removed by the governing body of the second to fourth tiers has dismissed that request.

The EFL have accepted that it may not be possible to finish the season in the lower leagues and if that is the decision the final table will be determined on unweighted points per game, with promotion and relegation kept in place and a four-team playoff will decide the final team promoted from each division.

Clubs in each league will vote next week on the guidelines, which only need a simple 51 percent majority to be ratified.

After separate leagues met in recent weeks to discuss options, League Two and National League clubs have decided to end their respective seasons, while League One clubs cannot agree on the next step and Championship clubs plan to restart their campaign alongside the Premier League in June.

If points per game is used in League One and League Two, here’s how the top and bottom of the tables will look:

League One
1. Coventry City (promoted automatically)
2. Rotherham (promoted automatically)
3. Wycombe (playoffs)
4. Oxford (playoffs)
5. Portsmouth (playoffs)
6. Fleetwood (playoffs)

21. Tranmere (relegated to League Two)
22. Southend (relegated to League Two)
23. Bolton (relegated to League Two)

League Two
1. Crewe (promoted automatically)
2. Swindon (promoted automatically)
3. Plymouth (promoted automatically)
4. Exeter (playoffs)
5. Cheltenham (playoffs)
6. Colchester (playoffs)
7. Northampton (playoffs)

24. Stevenage (relegated to National League)

Several clubs across the lower leagues in England are in a dire financial situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and curtailing the season would release much-needed funds, as they will not be able to play in safe environments and afford to following the safety and testing protocols needed. However, there is a real concern that the lower leagues may not be able to start the 2020-21 campaign due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Below is a look at the statement in full from the EFL, as they say there is “strong desire to remain as faithful as possible to the Regulations and ensure there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions.


1. Resuming the 2019/20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective, but the Board accepts there are circumstances that may lead to curtailment (as has been demonstrated with League Two) or a situation subsequently transpires whereby the season is unable to conclude.

2. This means that, in the event of an early curtailment:

Final divisional placings should be determined on unweighted points per game (if required).
b. Promotion and relegation should be retained.
c. Play-Offs should be played in all circumstances but should not be extended (beyond four teams).

3. If a scenario arises whereby the Play-Offs cannot be played, the EFL Board will determine the appropriate course of action.

4. The Board considers that the majority required to curtail the 2019/20 season in any division should be 51%. Determining whether or not to curtail the season is a decision for each division to take.

5. The principle of relegation across all three divisions is integral to the integrity of the pyramid, from the Premier League down to the National League, provided we have assurances that the National League will start season 2020/21 (i.e. the relegated Club in League Two has somewhere to play).

6. Any regulatory solution should be relevant and specific to the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and reach a conclusion that is clear and effective with the impact and justifications easy for all stakeholders to understand.