The race for survival in the Championship has hit an all-time high, with sides having just eight matches to turn their seasons around, but having said that, which sides could still face relegation to League One this season?
For this piece, we will take a look at the current bottom three, as well as four sides that are above the relegation zone, that could still face relegation this campaign.
At the time of writing, Huddersfield, Blackpool and Wigan make up the bottom three, but there are four sides that I firmly believe are still in the relegation fight in the Championship and could face relegation themselves, if their results don’t change.
In this piece, I will be taking a look at the seven sides that I believe are still in the relegation fight, as well as taking a look at their upcoming fixtures, and serious injuries and any possible points deductions that either have or are set to be added.
The fact that with eight games to play, there is still so many teams that face relegation is crazy but it’s what makes the Championship arguably one of the best, if not the best and most entertaining divisions on the planet.
One side that isn’t making this list, despite being on the same number of points as one that is on this list, is Birmingham City. John Eustace’s side are on 45 points, but for me they will be safe, especially given they don’t have a points deduction threat over their heads.
Let’s begin the list…
Kicking off this list, we have Reading who are currently level on points with Birmingham (as stated above) but the reason the Royals have been selected as a possible relegation candidate is due to a six point deduction which is hovering over their heads.
Although the deadline for points deductions has passed, because Reading’s is an old issue, it can still be applied this season, or at the start of the 2023/24 season. If that deduction occurs, the side will be just three points above the bottom three.
The Royals still have to play three sides below them, as well as a game against Birmingham, which is where their future will lie. They do have difficult matches against Luton, Coventry and the league leaders Burnley but gaining just five points shouldn’t be an issue.
Verdict: Personally, I believe Reading will be safe, providing the points deduction isn’t applied. The side need just five points to reach that all important 50 mark and I don’t think achieving that, given their run, will be an issue.
Queens Park Rangers
Gareth Ainsworth has had a tricky start to life at QPR, since joining last month after ending a ten-year stint with Wycombe Wanderers. However, given the clubs run of form over the last few months, the risk is real for the London side.
The side are currently sat in 19th place, picking up 42 points from their 38 games. This means they are just six points above the relegation zone and their form needs to change as quickly as possible.
QPR have the divisions bottom side Wigan next, but they have one of the more difficult run-ins to come. Especially as they still have to face the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City and Burnley. Therefore, they need to make their next couple of games count.
Verdict: Personally, I believe QPR have enough quality in that team to avoid relegation, but they are definitely making it difficult for themselves. They have a couple of tough matches left but that form has got to change soon.
Matt Taylor’s Rotherham are the typical yo-yo side between League One and the Championship, being either promoted or relegated. However, despite a promising start, they’ve slipped down the rankings as well as losing their key man Dan Barlaser to Middlesbrough.
The side are 20th in the Championship, sitting on 40 points, although they do have a game in-hand against the side directly below them, more on that shortly. This means they are just four points above the relegation zone and some of their recent performances, simply haven’t been good enough.
Looking at Rotherham’s upcoming fixtures, they still have to play five of the divisions top ten teams, as well as that rearranged match with Cardiff and their final day match against bottom side Wigan. Therefore, this weekends clash against Hull is a ‘must not lose’ fixture as far as they are concerned.
Verdict: I haven’t got anything bad to say about the Millers, as their current league position is arguably exactly where they should be at this stage as a side. They need to stick together, win their game in hand and they should be ok. If they were to lose that match in-hand, then the pressure will well and truly be on.
Following on from the Millers, we have another former Premier League side in the form of Cardiff City, a side that have really struggled in the Championship over the last two seasons, with recruitment and performances not being good enough.
Cardiff are 21st in the table on 39 points, three above the bottom three, although they do have a game in-hand, which is the one against Rotherham, which is a must win for either side. Cardiff were winning 1-0 before the game was abandoned due to the rain, with an FA investigation ongoing.
The Bluebirds still have three games against sides in and around them left to play, Rotherham, Huddersfield and Blackpool. They do still have the likes of Burnley, Sheffield United and Sunderland left to play, meaning points are as crucial as ever.
Verdict: Simply put, the performances from Cardiff this season haven’t been good enough. In the second half of last season, they managed to turn things around and avoid relegation, something that they haven’t managed to do this season. That Rotherham game is a must-win, otherwise their form would suggest that they will be going down.
Now looking at the bottom three, we begin with Neil Warnock’s Huddersfield Town, a side that have slowly started to pick up points, including a huge win against Millwall last time out to close the gap on the sides above.
Despite being 22nd, the side are just three points off safety and they also have some talented individuals like Jack Rudoni, who could help them avoid the drop. The pressure is still very much on but they’ve had some good points of late.
Relegation threatened Huddersfield still have four difficult matches to play, but with Reading and Cardiff still left, the Terriers need to make sure that they pick up as many points as they can, to lift themselves out of the relegation places.
Verdict: If Huddersfield can continue to pick-up a couple more wins in their next few games, I firmly believe they can avoid the drop. However, for that to happen, they need their more talented and experienced players to step up, but also having someone like Neil Warnock is a huge advantage heading into the final eight games.
Mick McCarthy’s Blackpool have struggled to get going this season and are looking at the likelihood of returning down to League One this season, it has to be admitted, but there is still time to turn that around before the season is out.
Blackpool are currently 23rd on 35 points, four from safety, which means that survival is still within touching distance. They made a couple of good signings but need the likes of Jerry Yates to stand up and make themselves accounted for.
Looking at Blackpool’s fixtures, their run-in isn’t as tough as some of their opponents and they need to make it count. They should be able to get points in three of their next four games, against the likes of Preston, Wigan and Cardiff. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long way back for the club.
Verdict: I don’t want to be negative but unless things change, Blackpool are almost definitely going down. I watched them against my side (Coventry) before the international break and the defending that day was a big issue for the side. Time is running out but they do have games left to try and save what’s been a disappointing campaign.
Bottom side Wigan Athletic are in a right mess at this moment in time, from receiving a three point deduction to having one of their own players actively speaking out about the stuff going on behind the scenes, something that is extremely worrying to see.
The points deduction means the side are now eight points off safety, but if Cardiff win/draw, that will increase to nine points. This means that the club could be relegated in five games time if they don’t change their form.
Bottom side Wigan, arguably have one of the easiest run of games, although it’s important to note that no game is ‘easy’. Sheffield United and Millwall are the only two matches that on paper are very difficult games, the rest could go either way and it’s important that the side battle and pick up points as they can quickly, especially against sides around them.
Verdict: Without being hateful, I think Wigan are as good as gone and that points deduction was the final nail in the coffin. They’ve not been convincing enough this season and with them also having the worst goal difference in the league, it’s going to take a miracle to keep them up.
Which three of the sides listed above, do you think will be relegated down to League One in May?