Premier League Promotion 2014: Teams, Championship Playoff Schedule and More

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Premier League Promotion 2014: Teams, Championship Playoff Schedule and More
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Promotion to the English top flight is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the teams that achieve it as well as a huge amount of prestige and the chance to compete in one of the world's best leagues.

Leicester and Burnley have already confirmed their Premier League status for next season, and they will be joined by one of Derby, QPR or Wigan depending on the outcome of the play-offs.

They will be replacing Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff, who have been relegated to the Championship, and will be hoping they can fare better than those three teams in the 2014-15 season.

Let's take a look at the promotion battle and how the season has panned out at the top of the second tier of English football.

 

The Teams Already Up

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Leicester have fully deserved their Championship win this season having finished on 102 points, nine clear of second-placed Burnley

They are promoted with one of the all-time highest second-tier totals, which should be a good omen for them going into the Premier League next season. 

Only Steve McClaren's Derby team scored more in the 46-game season than Leicester, with the Foxes bagging 83 goals, per ESPN FC.

They also had the second-tightest defence, conceding only 43 goals with just 21 of them coming away from home.

David Nugent has been their top scorer this season with 20 goals, per BBC Sport, a tally not achieved since the days of Gary Lineker, per the BBC's Mike McCarthy. 

They are in for a tough test when they play in the Premier League next season, but they could not have prepared themselves better after a terrific 2013-14 term.

Burnley return to the Premier League after being relegated in 2010, and Sean Dyche's side will be hoping to stay in the top flight for more than one season this time.  

In Danny Ings and Sam Vikes they have two top-class strikers, with the pair having scored over 40 goals between them this season, per BBC Sport.

However, with the pair contributing more than half of all Burnley's goals this term, the Clarets will need to bring in back-up over the summer so that they are not too reliant on their deadly duo.

Furthermore, the Daily Mirror's Ed Malyon asks the question of whether Burnley can continue with the formation they have played all season:

At the back, Dyche's men look solid. They had the best defensive record in the Championship this season conceding just 37 goals, per ESPN FC.

They will need to continue to keep it tight at the back if they want to succeed in the Premier League and they will start with a good base.

 

Playoff Teams

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Brighton fell at the first hurdle in their bid for promotion going down 6-2 on aggregate in their play-off semi-final against Steve McClaren's Derby, who cruised through to the Wembley final.

The former England manager has turned things around for the Rams after taking over from Nigel Clough in September.

Their 4-1 defeat of Brighton on Sunday in the second leg of the play-off semi-final was a terrific display, and they thoroughly merited their third-place Championship finish and will be the favourites to gain promotion no matter who they end up playing in the final.

Championship Playoff Schedule
Date Event Fixture Result
May 8 Semi-final, first leg Brighton vs. Derby 1-2
May 9 Semi-final, first leg Wigan vs. QPR 0-0
May 11 Semi-final, second leg Derby vs. Brighton 4-1
May 12 Semi-final, second leg QPR vs. Wigan TBD
May 24 Final Derby vs. TBD TBD

BBC Sport

QPR and Wigan play on Monday to decide their semi-final after a 0-0 draw at the DW Stadium in the first leg. Both teams were relegated from the top flight last season and are aiming for an immediate return.

Harry Redknapp's side were looking good for an automatic promotion spot early in the season but ended up fourth.

QPR will be devastated if they do not return to the Premier League considering the amount of money that the players are being paid, per The Guardian's Ian Prior:

However, they face a tough battle against Wigan, who have been revitalised by the hiring of Uwe Rosler as manager in December.

Conversely to QPR, they have had a terrific second half of the season that pushed them into promotion contention as well as taking them to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Of the play-off teams, Derby look the best equipped to make it to the Premier League and certainly have the momentum after their convincing semi-final victory.

However, in the pressure of a Wembley final on 24 May, anything can happen. With a Premier League spot at stake, there's no predicting which way the play-offs will go. 

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