Premier League and Football League: Ups & downs and European qualification

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Hartlepool’s 96-year stay in the Football League was ended by a last-minute goal for rivals Newport

BBC Sport outlines the battles for promotion and relegation – and the race for European qualification – in England and Scotland.

RECENT PROMOTIONS, RELEGATIONS & TITLES

PREMIER LEAGUE

Full-time scenes as Chelsea seal title

Chelsea clinched the Premier League title on 12 May with a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion and will play in next season’s Champions League along with runners-up Tottenham Hotspur and two other teams.

The league’s top three sides will qualify for the group stage of next season’s Champions League, with the fourth-placed team entering in the play-off round.

Every team in the top seven will play European football in 2017-18, because it contains both FA Cup finalists and EFL Cup winners Manchester United.

With Chelsea and Tottenham having made sure of their spots, that leaves two Champions League places between Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal going into the final game of the season (with a faint chance that a play-off may be needed to separate two of those three), with the unsuccessful team joining sixth-placed Manchester United and seventh-placed Everton in the Europa League.

Manchester United were the first team to book their place in Europe

Manchester United were already assured of at least a Europa League place after winning the EFL Cup. If they win the Europa League final on 24 May, they will enter next season’s Champions League as England’s fifth entrant.

There are no longer any Fair Play places allocated to the Europa League.

Sunderland were relegated to the Championship following their defeat at home to Bournemouth on 29 April, while north-east rivals Middlesbrough went down after their 3-0 defeat by Chelsea on 8 May. Hull City filled the final relegation place after they lost 4-0 at Crystal Palace on 14 May.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Newcastle were promoted a week after Brighton, but pipped them to the title on the final day of the season

Brighton and Hove Albion were promoted to the Premier League after they beat Wigan 2-1 on 17 April. Newcastle United clinched the second automatic place with a 4-1 win over Preston on 24 April and were crowned champions on the final day of the season.

Reading will meet Huddersfield Town in the play-off final, to determine the final promotion place, on Monday 29 May.

Rotherham United were the first English team to be relegated when they lost 1-0 to Fulham on 1 April. Wigan Athletic joined them via a 1-0 defeat by Reading on 29 April, and Blackburn Rovers were relegated on the final day of the season, despite beating Brentford 3-1.

LEAGUE ONE

The Blades have ended a six-year absence from the Championship

Sheffield United were promoted on 8 April as they won 2-1 at Northampton and clinched the title a week later when second-placed Bolton lost 1-0 to Oldham. They will be joined in the Championship by Bolton Wanderers, who sealed promotion by beating Peterborough on the final day of the season.

Bradford City will face Millwall in the play-off final on Saturday 20 May for the final promotion place.

Coventry City were relegated to the fourth tier of English football for the first time in 58 years after drawing with Charlton on 14 April, while Chesterfield’s relegation was confirmed on 17 April after they lost 3-1 to Scunthorpe. Swindon Town were relegated on 22 April with a 2-1 home defeat by Scunthorpe. The final relegation place was filled by Port Vale after they failed to beat Fleetwood on the last day.

LEAGUE TWO

Portsmouth clinched the League Two title, having started the final day of the season in third place

Doncaster Rovers clinched promotion to League One on 8 April as they beat Mansfield 1-0. Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth secured promotion on 17 April as Argyle beat Newport County 6-1 while Pompey won 3-1 at Notts County. All three promoted teams had a chance of winning the title on the final day – but Portsmouth won it by beating Cheltenham 6-1.

The final promotion place is between Blackpool and Exeter, who meet in the play-off final on Sunday 28 May.

Bottom club Leyton Orient were relegated to the National League on 22 April after losing 3-1 to Crewe, and Hartlepool United joined them on the final day after they beat Doncaster 2-1 but fellow strugglers Newport won 2-1 against Notts County.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Lincoln built on their FA Cup success by winning promotion back to the Football League after six years away

Lincoln City were promoted to League Two as National League champions on 22 April after beating Macclesfield 2-1, while Forest Green Rovers were promoted after beating Tranmere 3-1 in the play-off final on 14 May.

The bottom four teams are relegated. Southport went down on 14 April after losing 3-0 at Dover, while North Ferriby United were relegated on 17 April after a 3-1 defeat at Barrow. They were joined on the final day of the season by Braintree Town, who lost 2-0 at Aldershot, and York City who could only draw 2-2 with Forest Green.

The relegated clubs will be replaced by National League North champions AFC Fylde and play-off winners FC Halifax Town, and National League South champions Maidenhead United and play-off winners Ebbsfleet United.

SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP

Celtic share Scottish title joy with fans

Celtic clinched their sixth successive Scottish title on 2 April when they beat Hearts 5-0. They will enter next season’s Champions League at the second qualifying round.

Because Celtic and Aberdeen will contest the Scottish Cup final and both have qualified for Europe via their league position, the fourth-placed team will join the second and third-placed sides in the Europa League. Runners-up Aberdeenare set to enter at the second qualifying round, with Rangers and St Johnstone in the first qualifying round.

The bottom side will be relegated to the Scottish Championship, while the 11th-placed side will face the winners of the Championship play-offs over two legs, with the losers condemned to a place in the second tier next season. Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hamilton Academical are guaranteed to finish in the bottom two and their fate will be decided on the final day of the season.

SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP

Hibs clinched promotion with three games to spare

Hibernian were promoted to the Premiership as champions by beating Queen of the South 3-0 on 15 April.

Dundee United (having beaten Morton in the quarter-final) will meet runners-up Falkirk in the play-off semi-final second leg 19 May, after the first leg was drawn 2-2. Whoever emerges victorious from that encounter will face the second bottom side in the Premiership – again on a home and away basis – with a spot in the top flight the prize.

Bottom club Ayr United are relegated to League One after losing their final game 2-1 while Raith Rovers went down on 13 May after losing a relegation play-off semi-final to League One side Brechin on penalties.

SCOTTISH LEAGUE ONE

Scott Pittman and Jackson Longridge scored as Livingston wrapped up the League One title

Livingston were promoted to the Championship as League One champions on 8 April after beating Alloa 2-1. Brechin City beat Alloa Athletic 1-0 in the play-off final first leg, with the second leg on 20 May.

Bottom club Stenhousemuir are relegated to League Two after they could only draw 1-1 with Brechin on the final day. Ninth-placed Peterhead trail League Two side Forfar 2-1 going into the play-off final second leg on 20 May.

SCOTTISH LEAGUE TWO

Arbroath pipped Forfar to the League Two title

Arbroath were promoted as champions on the final day of the season after a 1-1 draw at Stirling Albion. Forfar lead ninth-placed League One team Peterhead 2-1 going into the play-off final second leg on 20 May.

Bottom side Cowdenbeath drew 0-0 at Lowland League champions East Kilbride in the first leg of the League Two play-off final on 13 May. The second leg is on 20 May.



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