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The state of play: The possible ups and downs in The Football League

28 April 2016

We’ve reached the penultimate week of the 2015/16 regular season, and there’s still a huge amount at stake in The Football League.

Relegated teams from two divisions have already been confirmed, with the Sky Bet League 1 survival race the only one still ongoing.

At the other end, it remains only Northampton Town who have achieved a Football League promotion – however that could well change this weekend.

Here’s a look at what might happen in Matchday 45...

Sky Bet Championship

All three relegation places have been confirmed following last weekend’s results, when MK Dons joined Charlton and Bolton in dropping down to Sky Bet League 1.

So attention turns to promotion, where Burnley could secure a return to the top tier of English football on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Clarets are tied with Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion on 87 points at the top of the table, with the latter pair meeting each other in their final fixture.

Read more: Three teams, two matches, one goal– the Championship promotion race

Therefore, if both the Boro and Seagulls drop points in their weekend outings and Burnley defeat QPR, then Sean Dyche’s men would be up, with only one of the two being able to make up the points on the final day.

As for the Play-Offs, Cardiff City visit Sheffield Wednesday in what is a must-win for the Bluebirds. Anything less and the Owls will clinch their place in the top six alongside Hull, Derby, and the unlucky team to miss out on automatic promotion.

UP:
DOWN: Milton Keynes Dons, Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers

Sky Bet League 1

Wigan Athletic are nearly over the line, with only the unlikeliest sequence of results denying them promotion. They can take mathematics out of the equation on Saturday lunchtime though, when a point at Blackpool would see them up.

In addition to that, if the Latics better the result of nearest-challengers Burton Albion, then they will be confirmed as Sky Bet League 1 champions.

Read more: Wigan Athletic – promotion and the title? Seaside success in sight

Sticking with the Brewers, they could book their place in the Sky Bet Championship if they can better Walsall’s result over the weekend.

Nigel Clough and his charges will have to be patient though, with their home match against Gillingham coming two days before Walsall meet Fleetwood Town on Bank Holiday Monday.

Millwall, Bradford City and Barnsley could all confirm top-six places this weekend, although the Lions’ Play-Off place is all but secured.

As for relegation, no one can drop on Saturday due to 20th-placed Fleetwood playing on Monday, but Chesterfield and Shrewsbury Town can officially clinch safety with three points.

Doncaster Rovers and Blackpool occupy the final two relegation places, and anything less than victory would put them at risk ahead of the Cod Army’s Bank Holiday fixture.

UP:
DOWN: Colchester United, Crewe Alexandra

Sky Bet League 2

Northampton will be presented with the Sky Bet League 2 trophy this weekend, but the battle for automatic promotion goes on behind them.

Accrington Stanley and Oxford United are best placed, with Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle still in close contention.

If Rovers lose and Plymouth fail to win, the former pair can clinch promotion with victories. Should Darrell Clarke’s Pirates draw at York, then only Stanley can secure their Sky Bet League 1 place with a win – John Coleman takes his team to Wycombe Wanderers.

Read more: Piero Mingoia – Accrington Stanley can smell promotion

AFC Wimbledon can confirm a maiden trip to The Football League Play-Offs if they defeat Stevenage, a place which will also be secured if Cambridge United drop points.

Portsmouth defeated the Dons in midweek to book their place in the top seven at least, and can still achieve automatic promotion – although it would take a major slip-up from the four teams above them.

At the other end, York’s loss last weekend confirmed their relegation with Dagenham & Redbridge.

UP: Northampton Town
DOWN: York City, Dagenham & Redbridge

The new arrivals

The relegation fight in the Premier League continues, therefore we are still none the wiser as to who will be joining Aston Villa in dropping down to the Sky Bet Championship.

Forest Green Rovers, Grimsby Town and Dover Athletic will all compete for a place in Sky Bet League 2 next year alongside National League champions Cheltenham Town.

A point for Braintree Town against struggling Altrincham will ensure they join the trio in the Play-Offs. Tranmere Rovers and Eastleigh are poised in case of any slip-up.

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