The Championship final day preview: what's left to be decided in the second tier?

07 May 2021 06:45

The curtain is about to come down on this Championship season with all 24 teams just one game away from the conclusion of their gruelling 46-game campaign.

Every side kicks off their final fixture at 12:30 on Saturday and once all 12 games are over there'll just be the lottery of the playoffs remaining.

Despite the top end of the league looking done and dusted with Norwich and Watford secure in the automatic promotion places, there's still some minor loose ends to be tied.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the table couldn't be less settled with not a single relegation spot confirmed - not mathematically anyway, but we'll come on to that.

If you're not too familiar with England's second tier, 90min has provided you with a rundown of everything left to be decided on what promises to be a beautifully hectic final day.

Playoff spots

The four sides competing in this season's playoffs have already been confirmed with Brentford, Swansea, Bournemouth and Barnsley securing the four spots behind the two automatically promoted clubs.

While it may seem like they've very little to play for given they can't slip out of the top six on the final day, their respective positions in the top six at the end of the campaign play a key role in deciding who they'll face in the playoffs.

Jonathan Woodgate's side need a win to secure fifth place | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The format of the playoffs means the team that finishes third will be given (in theory) the easiest semi-final tie against the sixth place team, while the side that finishes in fourth will play fifth.

Brentford are secure in third and realistically Swansea will finish either fourth or fifth - with the only difference in the two places being whether they play the first leg of their semi-final at home or away - so all that's left to be decided is who will play Brentford.

The Bees probably have the best of the four squads in the play-offs so should be avoided where possible. Barnsley currently occupy sixth though they're level on points with Bournemouth. If they can better Jonathan Woodgate's side's result on the final day they'll face Swansea rather than Brentford in the semi-finals.

However, it looks a tall order with the Cherries at home to a Stoke side who've been on the beach for the majority of 2021 and Barnsley facing champions Norwich.

Relevant final day fixtures

Bournemouth vs Stoke
Barnsley vs Norwich


Darren Moore's side need to win to stand any chance of survival | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Right, this one is going to get messy so we're going to break this down. No team has mathematically been relegated yet with four teams desperately trying to scrape their way into the one remaining survival spot.

Derby, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe (kinda) are all in the hunt for that elusive 21st spot, and here's a brief rundown of what each team needs to do to survive.


It's goodbye to the Championship for Gareth Ainsworth's side | Paul Harding/Getty Images

We're going to get Wycombe out of the way early on - they can't survive. Their only hope is that Rotherham don't win, Sheffield Wednesday beat Derby and then they beat Middlesbrough by a 14-goal margin.

Told you.


Wayne Rooney's side will definitely survive with a win | Athena Pictures/Getty Images

If Derby beat Sheffield Wednesday then they're safe, but if they get beat they're down. Simple.

If the pair draw in their final day clash then it all depends on Rotherham. If Paul Warne's side fail to beat Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium then the Rams will be safe but Wayne Rooney won't want to be relying on other teams to ensure survival.


Paul Warne's men can still survive | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Rotherham's destiny was in their own hands until they failed to beat Luton in their game in hand on Tuesday night - now they're relying on other teams.

First of all, the Millers need to take care of their own final game of the season and they must beat Cardiff to stand any chance of survival. Fail to beat Mick McCarthy's side and they're down.

If Rotherham do beat Cardiff then they're safe as long as Derby don't win. You still with us?

Sheffield Wednesday

Darren Moore's men need to win to have any chance of survival | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Last but not least.

Much like Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday know that they have to win to stand any chance of retaining their Championship status. A draw or a defeat against Derby and they're down.

If they do beat the Rams then their survival hopes depend on Rotherham's result at Cardiff, and as long as the Millers don't win then Sheffield Wednesday are safe.

Relevant final day fixtures

Derby vs Sheffield Wednesday
Cardiff vs Rotherham
Middlesbrough vs Wycombe


We know the feeling, Wayne | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Right, we realise all of that has probably fried your brains so we've provided a summary of what every side needs to do and needs to hope happens in other games for them to achieve their final day goals.

And to save a list longer than your mum's shopping list we've based it on realistic outcomes rather than teams winning 14-0 to survive.


For Bournemouth to avoid Brentford in the semi-final - match or better Barnsley's result.
For Barnsley to avoid Brentford in the semi-final - better Bournemouth's result.


For Derby to survive - Win and they're safe, draw and they need Rotherham not to win.
For Rotherham to survive - Win and hope Derby don't win.
For Sheffield Wednesday to survive - Win and hope Rotherham don't win.

Source: 90min