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Ups and downs: Final day permutations

3 May 2018

The League One title is up for grabs, as is automatic promotion from the Championship. Will someone snatch a late play-off place? Who will be consigned to relegation? Here are the final day permutations...



Wolverhampton Wanderers were awarded the Championship Trophy in their final home game of the season last weekend, while Cardiff City are in pole position to secure the second automatic promotion spot, sitting one point ahead of Fulham with just one game to play.

If Cardiff beat Reading, they will be automatically promoted regardless of Fulham’s result against Birmingham City.

If Cardiff only manage a draw against Reading and Fulham beat Birmingham, Fulham will overtake them to gain automatic promotion.

If Fulham draw against Birmingham and Cardiff lose, the two sides will be level on points, but Fulham will be promoted on superior goal difference.

If Fulham lose at St Andrew’s, Cardiff City will be promoted regardless of their result against Reading.


Whoever finishes third out of Cardiff and Fulham will go into the play-offs with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. They could be joined by sixth-placed Derby County,  Preston North End or Millwall.

A win for Derby against Barnsley would guarantee them the final play-off place.

If Derby lose and Preston North End beat Burton Albion, PNE will finish in sixth and take the final play-off spot.

Should Derby only manage a point against Barnsley and Preston win against Burton, the sides will be level on points, but Preston would need to put 10 past Burton to leapfrog the Rams.

Should Derby lose and Preston drop points, a win for Millwall against Aston Villa would see them go level on points with Derby. However they would also need a 10-goal swing to secure a play-off place.


At the other end of the table, Sunderland’s relegation to League One has already been confirmed with Bolton Wanderers and Burton Albion currently making up the bottom three.

Every side up to Reading who are in 19th place could still go down, with  Burton and Barnsley on 41 points and Birmingham City and Reading on 43 points.

Reading face Cardiff and Birmingham travel to Fulham – a win for either side would guarantee survival, while draws would effectively do the same.

For both teams to go down, Barnsley would need to beat Derby while Burton would need a mammoth victory at Preston due to a goal difference 20 worse than the Royals and 10 worse than the Blues.

If Reading lose, they will go down if Birmingham draw and both Barnsley and Burton win. Bolton would need to make up 14 goals to be involved in the equation.

If Birmingham lose, the above scenario applies although Bolton can realistically then enter calculations. Wins for two of Barnsley, Burton and Bolton – who would need a four-goal swing – would send the Blues into League One.

For Barnsley, three points at Derby will effectively keep them up regardless of Burton's result, due to a far superior goal difference. If the Tykes draw, wins for Burton or Bolton would send them down.

Should Barnsley lose, they would be relegated if Burton pick up a point or more at Preston, or if Bolton beat Nottingham Forest.

For Burton – aside from the aforementioned scenarios involving Birmingham and Reading – if they win and Barnsley don't, then the Brewers will survive. A draw will be enough if Barnsley lose and Bolton fail to win.

Bolton must beat Nottingham Forest to realistically have any chance of survival due to Barnsley having a far superior goal difference. A win combined with Barnsley or Burton dropping points – or the Birmingham loss previously mentioned – would keep the Trotters up.


Champions: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Play-Offs: Aston Villa, Middlesbrough
Relegated: Sunderland

PREVIEW: Click here for the Matchday 46 preview


Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers have sealed the two automatic promotion spots. However, both could be crowned champions on Saturday, with only two points between the sides currently.

If Wigan beat Doncaster Rovers, they will win the League One title. A draw should also be enough as there is currently an 18-goal swing between them and Blackburn.

However, a loss for Wigan and a win for Blackburn will see Tony Mowbray’s side win the League One title. Only a win will be enough for Blackburn Rovers to have a chance at the title.


Shrewsbury Town, Rotherham United and Scunthorpe United have all secured their place in the League One play-offs. The final spot will be taken by either Charlton Athletic or Plymouth Argyle.

A win or a draw for Charlton at Rochdale on Saturday would secure them sixth spot.

There is a possibility that Charlton Athletic and Plymouth Argyle could finish tied on points in sixth place in League One.

In accordance with EFL regulations, the determining factors for two teams tied on points in any League position is goal difference followed by goals scored. The final factor is a head-to-head of the two teams’ results throughout the 2017/18 season.

However, if Charlton and Plymouth are still locked on all counts, the two teams would take part in a one-off tie for a place in the Play-Off Semi-Finals.

For this to occur, the Addicks would need to concede their current six goal advantage in goal difference. One such example where this could occur is if Charlton lost their last game of the season 4-0 and Plymouth won theirs 2-0 although other permutations would apply.  

If such a circumstance does occur, the game would be played on Monday 7 May at an agreed neutral venue. 


At the bottom of the table, Bury and Milton Keynes Dons’ relegation has already been confirmed, with Northampton Town and Rochdale making up the bottom four. Oldham Athletic are the only side who could drop into the relegation zone on the final day.

Northampton are effectively down – they have to beat Oldham by nine goals at Sixfields, and hope Rochdale lose at home to Charlton.

If Oldham lose to the Cobblers, they will be relegated if Rochdale earn a point or more at home to Charlton.

Should Oldham draw, only victory against the Addicks would be enough to keep Rochdale in League One.


Promoted: Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers
Play-Offs: Shrewsbury Town, Rotherham United, Scunthorpe United
Relegated: Bury, Milton Keynes Dons

PREVIEW: Click here for the Matchday 46 preview


Accrington Stanley, Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderers have already sealed first, second and third ahead of the final day of the season.


Exeter City, Notts County, Coventry City and Lincoln City currently hold the four play-off places. The former pair are guaranteed a spot, while the latter two have to fend off Mansfield Town, in eighth.

Coventry are at home to Morecambe, and Lincoln host Yeovil Town. Both have to lose for Mansfield to have a chance – and the Stags must win.

Due to the current goal difference and goals scored situation, victory for Mansfield at home to Crawley Town combined with a loss for either Coventry and Lincoln would move the Stags into sixth.

If that scenario occurs, but both Coventry and Lincoln lose, the Sky Blues currently boast a one-goal advantage over the Imps. Therefore Lincoln would need to lose by a smaller margin to grab seventh spot.

Should goal difference and goals scored match by the close of play, Lincoln would qualify for the play-offs due to a superior head-to-head record this season.


Barnet have once again given themselves a shot at survival, but they need to beat the already-relegated Chesterfield at home to remain in the EFL.

If Barnet win and Morecambe lose at Coventry, the Bees survive. Should Morecambe get a point at Coventry, Barnet would need to put seven past the Spireites to stay up on goal difference.


Champions: Accrington Stanley
Promoted: Luton Town, Wycombe Wanderers
Play-Offs: Exeter City, Notts County
Relegated: Chesterfield

PREVIEW: Click here for the Matchday 46 preview

National League

Champions: Macclesfield Town
Tranmere Rovers v Ebbsfleet United (Sat 5 May – 12:15pm)
Sutton United v Boreham Wood (Sun 6 May – 3pm)

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