Birmingham clinched second place, and with it automatic promotion to the Premier League by beating Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday in a fantastic last day of the 2008/09 Championship League season.
There was plenty to play for as all games kicked off simultaneously. Birmingham’s fate was in their own hands as they withheld attempts from Reading and Sheffield United to join Wolves in gaining automatic promotion to the Premiership. Sheffield United could only draw 0-0 away to Crystal Palace, while inform Burnley (beat Bristol City 4-0) and Preston (beat QPR 2-1) both won their games to join the Reading and Sheff Utd in the Championship Play-off matches.
Cardiff City lost to Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 and as a result missed out on a place in the play-offs on goal difference.
After guiding Birmingham back to the Premier League at the first attempt, manager Alex McLeish attempted to quosh rumours that he would be leaving St. Andrews. Though less convincingly he said
“As far as I know I’ll be here but you’ll have to ask the board.”
Birmingham chairman David Gold suggested that following promotion, Birmingham will not overspend in an attempt to stay in the Premier League next season. “We won’t bankrupt the club, whilst we are in charge. We won’t be a Leeds, Southampton, Leicester etc,” said Gold.
Last season Birmingham were the subject of a failed takeover bid by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung. The disruption of the attempted takeover was partly to blame for thie relegation, and played a big part in losing manager Steve Bruce to Wigan.
The Championship Play-offs:
Friday, 8 May 2009
Preston v Sheff Utd – kick-off 19:45 (1st Leg)
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Burnley v Reading, kick-off 17:20 (1st Leg)
Monday, 11 May 2009
Sheff Utd v Preston – kick-off 19:45 (2nd Leg)
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Reading v Burnley – kick-off 19:45 (2nd Leg)
My money will be going on Burnley as it seems they have peaked just at the right moment.