Despite having an unassailable lead, champions elect QPR aren’t officially promoted, second place Norwich are definitely up, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe will be joining Preston in League One next season and as things stand on Thursday afternoon Leeds United can only qualify for the playoffs if a very bizarre set of circumstances occur.
Following a straightforward win on Saturday afternoon at Vicarage Lane, QPR’s promotion celebrations could best be described as muted. With the verdict on their conduct in the Alejandro Faurlin case yet to be delivered that’s really the only way the Hoops could celebrate their success: wild rumours about their punishment have been doing the rounds for weeks, although it’s fair to say that Loftus Road will not be receiving a surprise visit from US Navy Seals on Friday morning.
With QPR having ‘won’ the nPower Championship on Saturday, the drama then shifted to a warm bank holiday afternoon in South Wales – but any sense of suspense didn’t last long. This season it was Middlesbrough’s turn to shatter Cardiff’s dreams of automatic promotion: the Bluebirds conceded three goals within 25 minutes and the 3-0 defeat meant that Norwich would ensure automatic promotion at Fratton Park if they beat Portsmouth: Simeon Jackson’s fifth goal in three games did the trick and the Canaries will return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004/05.
At the other end of the table, Scunthorpe and Sheffield United were finally sent packing on Saturday afternoon. Mickey Adams’ side led Barnsley 2-1 after the hour, but former Bristol City striker Danny Haynes’second goal of the afternoon for the Tykes meant that United were down. Scunthorpe were just outclassed against Nottingham Forest, but given then the records of both Sheffield United and Scunthorpe in the third tier, it might not be too long before they return to the Championship. United haven’t played at that level since 1988/89 (they were promoted after one season) and Scunthorpe have earned themselves a reputation as a a yo-yo club between the Championship and League 1 over the last decade.
There have been simultaneous lunch time kickoffs for the last day of the regular season in the Championship for several seasons now, but this season is the first time for a while where all of the major issues have been settled. There are still things to play for: game of the week is QPR v Leeds (Sky Sports 2, kick off 12:45pm) but the circumstances at time of writing mean that Leeds can only qualify for the play offs if they win by at least seven goals and Nottingham Forest lose at Crystal Palace. Once we know what punishment will be given to QPR, those circumstances may be a lot different and we’ll bring you an update as soon as we have the decision.