Norwich City return to the Premier League again, Sheffield United get the drop
Norwich City clinched promotion to the Premier League with five games to spare on Saturday after rivals Brentford and Swansea City failed to win their Championship matches, guaranteeing Daniel Farke's leaders one of the automatic promotion places.
The Canaries sealed an immediate return to the top flight -- which has been worth at least 160 million pounds ($221.3 million) in previous seasons -- having finished bottom of the Premier League in the 2019-20 campaign.
Not even a 3-1 defeat later on Saturday by playoff-chasing Bournemouth took the gloss of the achievement, sealed thanks to Brentford playing out a 0-0 stalemate with Millwall and Swansea City drawing 2-2 against bottom club Wycombe Wanderers.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke revealed that his players were following the earlier matches from their hotel rooms before the Bournemouth game but they had not expected to secure promotion without having to kick a ball themselves.
"It's a bit surreal when you're promoted a few hours before kick off," the delighted German coach told Sky Sports before the evening kickoff. "You want to concentrate on the game but nevertheless it's a great feeling.
"It's a proud moment for the club and for us as a group. The lads have done a fantastic job. It's such an important target and a difficult one to achieve. Then you also think of the hard work you put in.
Norwich have enjoyed an outstanding season and sit at the top of the second-tier standings with 90 points from 42 matches.
Second-placed Watford have 82 points but a 1-0 defeat at Luton Town means they still have some work to do to clinch the second automatic promotion spot.
Bournemouth moved level on 74 points with fourth-placed Brentford, who have a game in hand, while Swansea have 76.
Sheffield United's relegation from the Premier League was sealed when they lost 1-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday after a second-galf goal by Willian Jose at Molineux.
The defeat left the Yorkshire club 19 points behind fourth-bottom Burnley with a maximum of 18 up for grabs.
United finished in the top half last season on their return to the top flight but have looked relegation favourites after taking two points from their opening 17 games of this campaign.
Willian Jose's first goal for Wolves did the damage in the 59th minute, meaning United now share the unwanted record of being relegated after 32 Premier League games set by Derby County and Huddersfield Town.
“We should have certainly had something out of the game. It typifies our season if i’m honest.”— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) April 17, 2021
Paul Heckingbottom’s immediate reaction.pic.twitter.com/l2VFdGsACH
United became the first team to finish as high as ninth in the Premier League and go down the next season since Birmingham City finished ninth in 2009-10 and were then relegated.
Only Sunderland in 2005-06 and Derby in 2007-08, with 11 points, have had fewer points on the board after 32 games in a Premier League season than Sheffield United this term.
"It's about results isn't it," interim manager Paul Heckingbottom told Sky Sports. "We have to go out with our head held high. I think we should have certainly got something from the game. It probably typifies our season.
"It's those moments. The little bit of quality that you need to be there to win games. You have to keep the group of players together and look to build and enjoy the challenges of what will be another tough season in the Championship."