Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Ups, downs and the race for Europe

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Portsmouth and Stockport both clinched EFL divisional titles on 16 April

BBC Sport outlines the promotion and relegation issues – and the race for European qualification – in England and Scotland for 2023-24.

Premier League

The title is between Manchester City and Arsenal, and will be decided on the final day of the season.

The top four teams qualify for the Champions League group stage – Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa.

The fifth-placed Premier League team will qualify for the Europa League group stage, along with the FA Cup winners. If Manchester City win the FA Cup, that Europa place reverts to the league.

The Europa Conference League place earned by Liverpool for winning the Carabao Cup will revert to the league. Tottenham cannot finish lower than sixth, so will qualify for the Conference League at worst.

The bottom three teams will be relegated to the Championship. Sheffield United‘s relegation was confirmed on 27 April as they lost 5-1 at Newcastle. Burnley joined them on 11 April after losing 2-1 at Tottenham, while Luton Town will be the third relegated club unless they win their final game and Nottingham Forest lose, and the Hatters make up a 12-goal swing in goal difference on Forest.

Women’s Super League

Chelsea celebrate with the Women's Super League trophy
Chelsea made sure of the WSL title in manager Emma Hayes’ final game in charge

WSL champions Chelsea, who clinched the title with a 6-0 win at Manchester United on the final day of the season, will enter the Champions League second round along with runners-up Manchester City. Third-placed Arsenal will enter in the first round.

Bristol City have been relegated and will make an immediate return to the Championship, after they were thumped 4-0 by league leaders Man City on 29 April. They will be replaced by Championship winners Crystal Palace.


Leicester City's Kasey McAteer and Patson Daka celebrate promotion
Leicester City are the first team to have won English football’s second tier on eight separate occasions

Leicester City clinched an immediate return to the Premier League on 26 April after promotion rivals Leeds lost 4-0 at QPR, and made sure of the title by winning 3-0 at Preston three days later. Ipswich Town earned the second automatic place by beating Huddersfield 2-0 on the final day of the season.

In the play-off final on Sunday 26 May, Leeds United face Southampton for the final promotion place.

The bottom three teams are relegated to League One. Rotherham United were the first EFL team to be relegated when they lost 1-0 to Plymouth on 5 April, and they were be joined on the final day of the season by Huddersfield Town who lost 2-0 at Ipswich and Birmingham City, despite their 1-0 win over Norwich.

League One

Colby Bishop celebrates a goal for Portsmouth against Barnsley
Portsmouth clinched promotion – and the title – at Fratton Park with two games to spare

Portsmouth secured automatic promotion to the Championship as champions on 16 April by beating Barnsley 3-2, and were joined by runners-up Derby County who overcame Carlisle 2-0 on the final day of the season. Oxford United earned the third promotion spot by beating Bolton 2-0 in the play-off final on 18 May.

The bottom four teams are relegated to League Two. Carlisle United were relegated on 6 April after losing 2-0 at Northampton. Port Vale joined them after a 2-0 loss at Bolton on 20 April, the same day that Fleetwood Town went down despite beating Leyton Orient 1-0. The fourth relegated team was Cheltenham Town, who lost 2-1 at Stevenage on the final day.

League Two

Stockport celebrate winning the title at Notts County's Meadow Lane
Stockport celebrated their title win with a flag remembering George Thompson, a teenage Hatters fan who died in 2021

Stockport County clinched automatic promotion to League One by beating Morecambe 2-0 on 13 April, and won the title three days later with a 5-2 win at Notts County.

They will be joined by Wrexham, who made sure of promotion by beating Forest Green 6-0 on 13 April, and Mansfield Town who beat Accrington 2-1 on 16 April.

Crewe Alexandra face Crawley Town in the play-off final on Sunday 19 May for the final promotion spot.

Forest Green Rovers’ relegation to the National League was confirmed on 16 April after Colchester beat Grimsby 2-0, and they were joined on the final day of the season by Sutton United who drew 4-4 at Milton Keynes.

National League

Chesterfield celebrate with their fans after clinching promotion
Chesterfield were the first team in England or Scotland’s major leagues to clinch promotion

Chesterfield secured the title, and automatic promotion back to the EFL after six years away, by beating Boreham Wood 3-0 on 23 March, while Bromley will play in League Two for the first time in their history after beating Solihull Moors on penalties in the play-off ifnal on 5 May.

The bottom four teams are relegated to National League North or South, and will be replaced with the champions and play-off winners of those two divisions.

Oxford City‘s relegation was confirmed when they lost 2-1 at AFC Fylde on 23 March, and they were joined on 13 April by Dorking Wanderers who drew 1-1 at Rochdale, Kidderminster Harriers who lost 1-0 to Eastleigh, and Boreham Wood who drew 0-0 with Ebbsfleet on the final day of the season.

Tamworth clinched the National League North title on 6 April with a 1-1 draw against Warrington, while Boston United won the play-off final 2-1 against Brackley Town on 4 May.

Yeovil Town made sure of the National League South title by beating Truro 2-0 on 11 April, while Braintree Town beat Worthing 4-3 in the play-off final on 6 May.

Scottish Premiership

Celtic lift the Scottish Premiership trophy
Celtic clinched their 12th Scottish title in 13 seasons with a game to spare

Champions Celtic made sure of the title on 15 May by winning 5-0 at Kilmarnock, They will enter the Champions League group stage, with runners-up Rangers entering in the third qualifying round.

With those two clubs also contesting the Scottish Cup final, the Europa League place reserved for the Cup winners reverts to the league.

So Hearts will enter the Europa League at the play-off round, with Kilmarnock in the second qualifying round, while St Mirren will enter the Europa Conference League at the second qualifying round.

Bottom club Livingston were relegated to the Scottish Championship on 4 May after losing 4-1 at Motherwell, while the 11th-placed team (St Johnstone or Ross County) will take on Championship side Raith Rovers in the two-legged play-off final.

Scottish Championship

Dundee United celebrate promotion
A goalless draw in their penultimate game of the season clinched an immediate return to the top flight for Dundee United

Dundee United were promoted to the Scottish Premiership as champions on 26 April after a 0-0 draw at Airdrieonians.

In the play-off final, Raith Rovers will meet the 11th-placed Premiership side – over two legs – for the final place in next season’s top flight.

Bottom side Arbroath‘s relegation to League One was confirmed with a 5-0 thrashing by Ayr United on 13 April. Also relegated are Inverness Caledonian Thistle who were beaten by League One side Hamilton in the two-legged play-off final.

Scottish League One

Falkirk players and manager John McGlynn celebrate their League One title win
Falkirk were assured of the title after Hamilton failed to win earlier in the day

Champions Falkirk clinched automatic promotion to the Scottish Championship after rivals Hamilton drew 0-0 with Queen of the South just before they won 7-1 at Montrose on 30 March. Hamilton Academical joined them after beating Championship side Inverness in the play-off final.

Bottom club Edinburgh City were the first team in England or Scotland to be relegated after losing 5-2 to Alloa on 16 March. Ninth-placed Stirling Albion will join them in League Two after losing to Dumbarton in the play-off semi-finals on 11 April.

Scottish League Two

Stenhousemuir celebrate
Stenhousemuir’s triumph was the first league title in the club’s history

Stenhousemuir clinched automatic promotion to League One as champions on 6 March after drawing 0-0 with East Fife. Dumbarton were promoted on 17 May after beating The Spartans in the play-off final.

Bottom side Stranraer beat Lowland League winners East Kilbride in the two-legged pyramid play-off final, so there is no relegation from League Two this season.

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