Wolverhampton Wanderers’ return to the Premier League after a six-year absence was confirmed on Saturday after Fulham’s 1-1 draw with Brentford gave Nuno Espirito Santo’s men an unassailable 10-point lead over the Londoners with just three games of the season remaining.
Bought over by Chinese group Fosun International in 2016, Wolves’ return to England’s lucrative top-flight has been bankrolled by huge investment and links to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes.
Portugal international Ruben Neves, signed for a Championship record £15.8 million from Porto in July, was one of a number of Portuguese players recruited in the summer and that investment has told on the field as the Midlands side have streaked away from the chasing pack.
Neves produced one of the moments of the season in midweek with a sensational 30-yard wonder strike to see off Derby 2-0.
Victory over Birmingham on Sunday will also take Wolves to within a point of sealing the Championship title ahead of Cardiff City.
However, Wolves’ big spending has provoked complaints for other sides in the league.
“Congratulations to the best team, but hope the league can be fair and equal to all 24 teams,” protested Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani after his side were beaten 3-0 by Wolves last month.
“Not legal and fair (to) let one team owned by a fund who has shares in the biggest players’ agency with evident benefits (top European clubs giving players with options to buy... why the other 23 teams can’t have the same treatment?).”
Mendes is the founder of the Gestifute agency which represents a host of international stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo.
On the field, Wolves have proved unstoppable as they amassed a huge lead at the top of the table on the back of losing just three of their opening 27 games of the campaign.
And despite a mid-winter blip, Wolves have finished as strongly as they began with 16 points from their last possible 18 securing promotion.
Cardiff’s hopes of joining them in the Premier League next season were also boosted by Brentford’s dramatic 94th-minute equaliser to hold Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The Welsh side lead Fulham by a point and have a game in hand after scoring twice themselves in the final four minutes to win 2-0 at Norwich.
Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Leeds on Friday also kept them in the battle for automatic promotion, three points behind Fulham.
Middlesbrough were the big winners in the battle for playoff places behind the top four on Saturday as they edged past Bristol City 2-1.
Millwall extended their 17-game unbeaten league run with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United to remain in the final playoff place.
However, Derby’s playoff push suffered another setback when they were beaten 3-1 at relegation threatened Burton.
That win moved second bottom Burton to within five points off safety.
But Sunderland look set for back-to-back relegations after a 2-2 draw at Reading left them rock bottom and still six points adrift of safety.