This Monday brings the final day of the Championship season, and compared to the divisions below there isn’t a great deal left to be decided other than the play-off spots.
Burnley have already been crowned champions and they will be joined by Sheffield United in the Premier League next year. At the bottom of the table all the relegation spots have been confirmed with Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Reading all confined to League One football next term. Reading almost had the chance to battle it out with Huddersfield Town on the final day over the final spot, but after Neil Warnock’s men recorded a huge 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on Thursday the Royals head into Monday's fixtures knowing that they are already down.
There is still much to be decided in the second tier in terms of the high-stakes play-offs however. Here are the final day permutations in the play-off race
Middlesbrough v Coventry City
Millwall v Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End v Sunderland
Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion
Luton Town have secured their place in the play-offs for the second consecutive year, while Middlesbrough also have their spot booked heading into Matchday 46. However, a lot can change in the fight for the last two spots, with Coventry City, Millwall, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers all having a shot at finishing in the top six.
Here is what each club needs to qualify for the play-offs.
Coventry travel to Middlesbrough for their final match of the regular season knowing that if they avoid defeat they will be in the play-offs, no matter what happens in the other games. This clash could also serve as a warm-up for the play-offs themselves as there is a chance that these two clubs will meet in the two-legged semi-finals.
If the Sky Blues lose to Boro, they would need two of the games involving Blackburn, Sunderland and West Brom to go their way.
But, should Blackburn, Sunderland and West Brom collect three points, Coventry’s superior goal difference should ensure they would finish in the top six with 69 points barring a couple of big goal swings.
Gary Rowett’s side have their destiny in their own hands and know that a win over play-off rivals Blackburn will secure a place in the top six. However, defeat and victory for Sunderland or West Brom would see Millwall fail to make it, while a draw would leave them vulnerable to missing out.
Sunderland have a better goal difference than them and while West Brom's is slightly weaker, the Baggies have scored more than Rowett's team. So if Sunderland and West Brom were to win, the Lions would miss out on goal difference and goals scored respectively.
Tony Mowbray’s Black Cats will need some help from elsewhere, and to have any chance his side must beat Preston. If they fail to win, it’s over. They won’t be able to catch Coventry if the Sky Blues avoid defeat, or pass Millwall if the south London club win.
However, if Sunderland win and Coventry lose, they are guaranteed to catch the Sky Blues, and if Millwall draw, Sunderland’s superior goal difference would see them get into the play-offs.
West Brom and Blackburn would need to win and achieve huge goal swings to stand any hope of catching Sunderland, so the Black Cats have to win and hope Millwall or Coventry slip up.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom travel to Swansea on the final day and need to win to have any hope, while they would also require Millwall not to win and Coventry to lose. If Coventry were to lose, the Baggies would need a five-goal swing, while they would only need to match Millwall’s goal difference of +8 to pass the Lions on goals scored.
However, a Sunderland win would leave West Brom needing a huge victory to catch the Black Cats. Ultimately, West Brom require Sunderland to fail at Preston and beat Swansea to stand a realistic hope of making it into the top six.
Blackburn can still mathematically finish in the play-offs it but need a lot to go their way when they face Millwall. Rovers have to beat the Lions to stand any hope and then pray West Brom and Sunderland fail to win.
If they both lose, Blackburn’s massively inferior goal difference won’t come into it. If one or both come out victorious, Rovers would need to beat Millwall by at least 12 goals, so we can pretty much rule them out in that scenario.