Football Features

What happened next? Every Championship Play-off winning team in the 21st century

By Squawka News

Published: 18:22, 22 July 2020

The Championship play-off final is billed as the most expensive match in football due to the untold riches on offer in the Premier League.

Last year, Aston Villa beat Derby County 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to earn the final place in the Premier League, going one step further than the previous season’s play-off final defeat to Fulham.

Although losing the match can be a devastating ordeal to go through, winning can often be a poisoned chalice for whoever prevails.

Since 2000, 19 different teams have won said match but their fortunes have been a mixed bag of stability and dismay.

2000: Ipswich 4-2 Barnsley

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 2

Best finish: 5th

Current league: League One

George Burley’s Tractor Boys had a selection of very decent players in their squad like Matt Holland and Marcus Stewart and overachieved in their first season in the Premier League.

Ipswich finished fifth in the 2001/02 season and qualified for the Uefa Cup. Europe was too much of a burden for the Suffolk side to bear and they were relegated in 2002. They haven’t been back in the Premier League since and were relegated to League One at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, and will be there once again when the 2020/21 season kicks off.

2001: Bolton 3-0 Preston

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 11

Best finish: 6th

Current League: League Two

With Sam Allardyce at the helm, Bolton flourished in the Premier League with a number of ageing superstars all making their way to the Reebok Stadium. After a few shaky seasons, they finally established themselves as a dependable top-flight side.

Their best ever finish was sixth but when Allardyce left things began to decline for Bolton and they were eventually relegated in 2012.

After a season of financial turmoil, they fell into League One in 2016 but bounced straight back up the next year after finishing runners-up, and just escaped relegation from the Championship on the final day of the 2017/18 season. That joy was short-lived, though, with the club falling back into League One and eventually League Two thanks to severe financial mismanagement.

2002: Norwich 1-1 Birmingham (Birmingham win 4-2 on penalties)

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 4

Best finish: 10th

Current League: Championship

Under the guidance of Steve Bruce, Birmingham quickly became a solid Premier League side but were surprisingly relegated in the 2005/06 season. The West Midlands side became a yo-yo team after that earning two more promotions and relegations since then.

Unfortunately, the Blues don’t look like they are going to earn promotion from the Championship anytime soon as they are a lower to mid-table side in that division at best and once again had to fight against relegation in 2019/20.

2003: Sheffield United 0-3 Wolves

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 20th

Current League: Premier League

An ageing Wolves side with players like Denis Irwin, Paul Ince, Nathan Blake and Matt Murray weren’t exactly cut out for life in the Premier League and they finished bottom of the table in the 2003/04 season.

They didn’t return to the top-flight until 2009 but Mick McCarthy struggled to keep them in the division and in 2012 they were relegated after a dismal campaign. But now, with the help of agent Jorge Mendes, Wolves are comfortably ‘best of the rest’ in the Premier League, finishing seventh last season now sitting sixth.

2004: Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 18th

Current League: Premier League

It has only been in recent seasons that Crystal Palace have managed to establish themselves as they were an eternal yo-yo club previous to that.

The south London club were relegated in 2005 and financial troubles lay ahead for the Eagles, who narrowly avoided relegation to League One in 2012.

2005: West Ham 1-0 Preston

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 6

Best finish: 9th

Current League: Premier League

West Ham have always been a team that have flirted on the edge of brilliance and disaster but after the disappointment of the year before they finally earned promotion back to the top-flight.

Once there, they stuck around until 2011 but more playoff final glory would await the Hammers in the future.

2006: Leeds 0-3 Watford

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 20th

Current League: Premier League

Leeds’ best chance of returning to the Premier League was thwarted by Watford in 2006. Sadly, the Hornets were drastically unprepared for the top flight and were relegated after winning only five games.

Watford then bided their time before winning promotion back to the top-flight in 2015 but are on the verge of returning to the Championship after a season on turmoil which included four different managers.

2007: Derby 1-0 West Brom

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 20th

Current league: Championship

Derby’s win over West Bromwich Albion in 2007 was a great day for fans of the Rams but what followed was misery and torment.

The East Midlands club became the worst side in Premier League history, winning only 11 points in 2007/08 and they have struggled to earn promotion since then despite having one of the better squads in the Championship. Despite last season’s excellent efforts, they suffered a disappointing play-off final loss against Villa, denying them a return to the top-flight. And they will remain in the Championship for another season after a disappointing 2019/20.

2008: Bristol City 0-1 Hull City

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 2

Best finish: 17th

Current league: Championship

A superb volley from club legend Dean Windass helped Hull earn their first ever promotion to the top-flight in 2008.

Once there, they upset a few of the big guns but were relegated in 2010. They have been back since but despite improvements under Marco Silva were unable to avoid the drop in 2016/17 and have struggled in the Championship since – losing 8-0 to Wigan towards the end of the 2019/20 campaign and fighting relegation.

2009: Burnley 1-0 Sheffield United

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 18th

Current league: Premier League

Wade Elliot scored the only goal of the game to help the Clarets back to the top flight and this would kickstart a series of ups and downs for the Lancashire club.

Sean Dyche’s side were promoted again in 2013 but were once again relegated immediately afterwards.

After winning the Championship Burnley in 2015/2016, they became a top-flight side again the next season and have been far more comfortable since, even enjoying some European football at the start of 2018/19.

2010: Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 19th

Current league: League One

One of the most competitive play-off finals in recent years saw Blackpool become one of the smallest teams to ever compete in the Premier League. Unfortunately, there was a black cloud looming on the horizon for the Tangerines.

Blackpool slipped out of the league at the first time of asking. Financial problems, fan protests and terrible results now meant they fell as low as League Two.

However, they managed to bounce back up to English football’s third tier by beating Exeter in the 2016/17 season’s League Two play-off final and have settled in nicely as a mid-table League One team.

2011: Reading 2-4 Swansea

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 7

Best finish: 8th

Current league: Championship

Swansea, led by Brendan Rodgers, got one over on their close rivals Cardiff in 2011 by going one better than them and winning the play-offs thanks to a Scott Sinclair hat-trick.

And despite the club once looking like establishing themselves as a regular Premier League side, the Swans were relegated back down to the Championship after the 2017/18 following a few years of flirting with the drop.

2012: Blackpool 1-2 West Ham

Seasons in the Premier League after win: Ongoing

Best finish: 7th

Current league: Premier League

West Ham’s brief relegation to the Championship was short-lived as Sam Allardyce once again proved his worth and got the Hammers back into the big time.

Still in the Premier League, West Ham left it late to secure their spot in the top division in 2019/20 but will be looking to move further up the table with David Moyes in charge.

2013: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford

Seasons in the Premier League after win: Ongoing

Best finish: 10th

Current league: Premier League

Palace won another play-off final in 2013 when the brilliance of Wilfried Zaha helped them get back into the Premier League.

Tony Pulis then took over from Ian Holloway to work his magic and kept them in the Premier League in the next campaign. Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce have since both come and gone but the Eagles remain a top-flight team with Roy Hodgson now in charge and looking up the table.

2014: Derby 0-1 QPR

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 20th

Current league: Championship

Bobby Zamora’s late strike gave Queens Park Rangers probably the most undeserving of play-off final victories ever as Derby dominated the game.

QPR clearly didn’t learn from their previous mistakes and heavy investment and Harry Redknapp’s poor financial strategy led to immediate relegation.

2015: Middlesbrough 0-2 Norwich

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 19th

Current league: Premier League

Norwich’s return to the Premier League didn’t exactly go according to plan as Alex Neil’s men couldn’t stay in the top flight despite a few good results.

A less than impressive campaign back in the Championship ended up costing Neil his job but under Daniel Farke, the Canaries earned promotion back to the top flight as champions. However, they will be in the Championship for the 2020/21 campaign.

2016: Hull City 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 18th

Current league: Championship

Steve Bruce returned Hull to the Premier League at the first attempt via the play-offs with a Mohamed Diame goal, giving the Tigers a 1-0 win over Wednesday.

Bruce would resign before the 2016/2017 season started, however, and Mike Phelan didn’t last too long either. Marco Silva was a shrewd appointment but it was too little too late and Hull went back to the Championship after just one campaign.

2017: Huddersfield Town 0-0 Reading (Huddersfield win 4-3 on penalties)

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 2

Best finish: 16th

Current league: Championship

After edging the play-off final against Reading, many had expected David Wagner’s men to be relegated straight back to the Championship.

But the Terriers initially held their own thanks, mostly, to a bright start which saw them shock Manchester United with a win at the John Smith’s Stadium. Safety was confirmed with an impressive draw at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea in the penultimate game.

The second season was far more cruel, though, with Huddersfield finishing bottom on just 16 points, winning only three of their 38 games and seeing Wagner leave his post.

2018: Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa

Seasons in the Premier League after win: 1

Best finish: 19th

Current league: Championship

Against the odds, Fulham beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the 2018 Championship play-off final thanks to a goal from Tom Cairney.

A summer of heavy investment meant many tipped the Cottagers for a comfortable, lower-mid-table finish at the very least. The outcome, however, was a disjointed squad with no cohesion. Fulham finished 19th, winning just seven games and seeing both Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri lose their jobs. But they are now back in the play-offs under Scott Parker, looking for a return to the Premier League.

2019: Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County

Seasons in the Premier League after win: Ongoing

Best finish: N/A

Current league: Premier League

Getting over the heartbreak of the year prior, Aston Villa beat Frank Lampard’s Derby County thanks to goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn, returning to the Premier League after three years.

But there first season back in the top flight was not an easy one and, with one game remaining, Villa are not yet secure. However, a crucial win over Arsenal in their penultimate game of the season has put Villa’s future in their hands.

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