The Championship: Possible outcomes of the final day
With much to be decided going in to the final day, we look at who could be going up or down in the Championship
A thrilling finale at high noon (well 12.45pm) awaits the Championship this coming Saturday with so much to be decided right the way to the tip of the wire.
Promotion, survival and the playoffs places are far from settled. For those who haven't had the time to work it out, in this article will be laid out all the focal points and how the day could transpire.
To reiterate, not many can doubt it's been a thrilling ride for all 24 teams in the league, with the possible exclusion of Bristol City. A mere 21 points separate 23rd placed Wolves and 4th placed Brighton, indicating a hard fought season with many twists and turns, ups and downs and surprising results.
It has to end somewhere, and this Saturday sees many a mouth watering clash, with different goals and dreams to be made and shattered. Local derbies are included, some which may never have seemed so important. At this moment, only three teams know their destiny.
1. Cardiff | Promoted: Worthily going up as champions after an impressively consistant season.
2. Bristol City | Relegated: Unfortunately acquiring this years wooden spoon in an overall disappointing campaign spent largely in the bottom three.
3. Brighton | Playoffs: Gus Poyet's side have been solid this season and no matter the outcome of Saturday's game against Wolves, they will finish in fourth place.
Unsolved in this league is one automatic promotional place, two relegated sides, and three play off positions on the final day, not many dead rubbers here. Let's briefly run through key fixtures and how these outcomes will determine the fate of the respective sides.
Hull can guarantee automatic promotion by gaining victory over the newly crowned champions Cardiff at home. However, a draw at the KC Stadium, would mean a victory for Zola's men over Leeds would secure promotion. If Hull lose, a Watford draw would promote them due to superior goal difference.
The team failing to win automatic promotion will finish in third deciding the first play off spot, which brings us to the most expensive lottery in football.
The Playoff hopefuls
2. Brighton - 72 points
3. Palace - 69 point
4. Bolton - 67 points
5. Forest - 67 points
6. Leicester - 65 points
With Brighton, and whichever club fails to achieve automatic promotion between Hull and Watford assured a playoff berth at the least, four teams fight it out for the remaining two places.
One thing we know for certain, if Crystal Palace manage to win at home against Peterborough, they will be competing in the playoffs. There are many variables in this dogfight, however.
If Bolton defeat their local rivals Blackpool at the Reebok Stadium, only Forest could potentially catch them for that final place, but would need to secure a victory with a massive four goal margin higher than their northern counterparts against playoff rivals Leicester due to an inferior goal difference.
A defeat for Bolton opens the door for either Leicester or Nottingham Forest, in this instance a draw would be enough for the latter, whilst a win for The Foxes would put them in the play off mix.
If both Nottingham Forest and Bolton were to win, Crystal Palace could miss out with defeat at home against relegation threatened Peterborough United, which brings us to the Championship trap door.
1. Wolves - 51 points
2. Barnsley - 54 points
3. Peterborough - 54 points
4. Sheffield Wednesday - 55 points
5. Millwall - 56 points
6. Huddersfield - 57 points.
Bristol City are relegated as mentioned earlier, and it seems Wolves would need a minor miracle to secure their Championship status. A bare minimum they require both Peterborough and Barnsley to lose, whilst managing to overcome a tricky encounter against Brighton, overcoming a four-goal deficit with Peterborough in the process. Stranger things have happened, but don't hold your breath.
Excitingly, for the neutral at least, any one of five other teams could be relegated. In the same way it's unlikely for a Wolves rescue, Huddersfield will probably be the most confident. Millwall, Peterborough and Wednesday would need to win, and Huddersfield would need to be defeated at Barnsley. Goal difference would relegate Town in this instance.
A loss for Barnsley is guaranteed to condemn the Yorkshire side, whilst a draw could only save them if Peterborough fail pick up at least a draw at playoff chasing Palace, or if Wednesday incurred a heavy defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough. Wins for Peterborough and Barnsley would mean a draw would relegate Wednesday.
Finally, Millwall's fate is all but secured realistically as they would need wins from Peterborough, Barnsley and at least a draw from Sheffield Wednesday whilst succumbing to defeat at Derby themselves.
Inevitably on the day throughout the table, confusion ensues but excitement and drama will no doubt rule a brilliant day to such a close season in the Championship.
History will be made and hearts will be broken. Don't blink in case you miss something whilst fans of the clubs will experience every emotion possible.
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