Birmingham City have been deducted nine points in the Championship after they breached sustainability rules and this is a decision that has sucked them into the relegation battle in England’s second tier.
With the club’s 14 point cushion over the bottom three now reduced to just a five-point gap, could they really go down? We take a look at the other clubs in the relegation battle and asses their chances.
With Ipswich and Bolton looking down and out already, that leaves just one spot available and five clubs battling it out to avoid the drop. Rotherham currently occupy that final relegation spot but they have had some encouraging performances in recent weeks and could escape once again. Reading are also a side that have picked things up, with seven points from their last three outings, aiding their survival effort.
Millwall may have taken their eye off the ball given their exploits in the FA Cup, but four league losses in a row has dragged them into the relegation mire. Wigan are the other team in trouble with no wins in their last four, sitting just three points above the dreaded drop zone.
So looking at those teams you would think the Blues should stay up, but their fixture run-in is a tough one compared to their relegation rivals. In their next three fixtures they face West Brom, Leeds and Sheffield United, three of the top four in the league. You would not expect them to get any points from that run of games and the best of times and three defeats in a row will really heap the pressure on Garry Monk’s men.
In their final five games they then face four of their relegation rivals, in huge six-pointers. After that probable defeat to in-form Sheffield United they take on bottom club Ipswich at Portman Road, as the Tractor Boys fight for their life. Following that they host play-off chasers Derby before a critical run of three crunch fixtures which could decide their season.
On Easter Monday they travel to Rotherham who could put a severe dent in their hopes of survival before hosting the aforementioned Wigan in another massive six-pointer at the bottom. On the final day of the season they must travel to Reading, and although both teams will be hoping that they are safe by then, it could be a final day relegation decider.
The Blues have escaped relegation from the Championship on the final day before of course, back in 2014, when a 93-minute equaliser against Bolton kept them in the league and sent Doncaster down in their place.
They may need to rely on some Paul Caddis-eque heroics this time around as well as this fixture list could take the relegation battle right down to the wire.