Championship final day clockwatch – as it happened

Blackburn Rovers were relegated to League One as Nottingham Forest and Birmingham survived, while Newcastle won the title

Blackburn Rovers are down. They are a League One side and it’s all the fault of Venky’s. Nottingham Forest and Birmingham, meanwhile, have stayed up thanks to their wins over Ipswich and Bristol City respectively. Both clubs, however, must learn from their mistakes, otherwise nothing will change. And something really has to change in English football. Too many owners are being allowed to ruin proud clubs. Blackburn are the latest victims, but they’ve just been slightly less fortunate than Birmingham and Forest. Without firm action from the football authorities, Blackburn’s fate will be someone else’s in the future. A sobering thought to end on. But it’s reality. Thanks for reading and emailing. That’s all from me for now. You can follow Liverpool v Southampton with Ben Fisher here.

Blackburn Rovers, relegated.
Blackburn Rovers, relegated. Photograph: Scott Heavey/PA



Brighton were so close to top spot, only for Jack Grealish to interfere with their plans! His equaliser for Aston Villa means Newcastle have won the title after their 3-0 win over Barnsley.

Newcastle players celebrate winning the league.
Newcastle players celebrate winning the league. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters


“We want our Rovers back,” sing the Blackburn fans. Before long they’re chanting “Venky’s out”. Their team gave their all today but it wasn’t enough. Those fans have been horribly let down by their club’s ludicrous owners. There are tears in the away end. Will Venky’s even care? Or will they just promise Ronaldinho and David Beckham again?

Full-time: Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham! Blackburn are relegated!

The whistle finally goes at Ashton Gate, Birmingham’s players dash towards the away end to celebrate and their fans are going mad! They’ve done it. Harry Redknapp’s pulled it off thanks to Che Adams’s early goal. They’re staying up and Blackburn, Premier League champions in 1995, have been relegated to League One.

There is one minute of stoppage time left at Ashton Gate. Birmingham are almost safe. Blackburn are almost in League One. On the pitch and in the away end at Griffin Park, they wait desperately for good news.

Full-time: Nottingham Forest 3-0 Ipswich

Forest are safe.

Full-time: Brentford 1-3 Blackburn

Blackburn have done all they can. But is it going to be enough? It doesn’t look like it at the moment. Time’s ticking away at Ashton Gate. Bristol City can’t find the equaliser that would send Birmingham down. Another chance has gone begging.

GOAL! Aston Villa 1-1 Brighton (Grealish, 89 min)

Jack Grealish’s deflected low shot squirms past David Stockdale and the title is going to Newcastle!

GOAL! Newcastle 3-0 Barnsley (Gayle, 90 min)

Dwight Gayle’s put through by Mitrovic and he scores easily. And...

GOAL! Norwich 4-0 QPR (Hoolahan, 90 min+2)

Wes Hoolahan’s got his second and Norwich’s fourth.

There will be six minutes of added time at Ashton Gate. Is a twist on the way?

Full-time: Wolves 1-0 Preston

Wolves end the season on a positive note.

Birmingham are creeping towards safety. They’re frustrating Bristol City now.

GOAL! Norwich 3-0 QPR (Murphy, 85 min)

Josh Murphy’s set up by Hoolahan and he squeezes his shot inside the near post.

Josh Murphy celebrates scoring the third for Norwich.
Josh Murphy celebrates scoring the third for Norwich. Photograph: Tony O'Brien/Reuters


Six minutes left at Ashton Gate. Can Birmingham hold on? They’re not defending convincingly. But they still lead.

GOAL! Rotherham 1-1 Derby (Ince pen, 84 min)

Tom Ince equalises for Derby.

Tom Ince scores for Derby from the spot.
Tom Ince scores for Derby from the spot. Photograph: Andy Clarke/REX/Shutterstock


Bristol City are the team making all the running at Ashton Gate. Birmingham’s fans are being put through the mill now. One Bristol City goal and Birmingham are down!

GOAL! Burton 2-4 Reading (Grabban, 84 min)

Lewis Grabban smashes in from close range to seal the points for Reading after a little wobble.

GOAL! Brentford 1-3 Blackburn (Conway pen, 83 min)

An emphatic penalty from Craig Conway. Three more for Blackburn and they’ll stay up!

Craig Conway scores from the penalty spot.
Craig Conway scores from the penalty spot. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images



Marvin Emnes is taken out by Harlee Dean, who’s sent off.

Harlee Dean fouls Marvin Emnes to concede the penalty.
Harlee Dean fouls Marvin Emnes to concede the penalty. Photograph: Javier Garcia/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Fulham (Neeskens Kebano, 79 min)

It might be an own goal, it might be a Piazon goal, it might be Kebano’s second. Whatever it is, Fulham lead.

Craig Conway goes down in the Brentford area after a trip by Josh Clarke. The Blackburn man’s booked for diving!

GOAL! Huddersfield 0-3 Cardiff (Bennett, 71 min)

Joe Bennett’s second means Cardiff are ending the season on a high.

As it stands, Nottingham Forest’s goal difference is -10 after that Assombalonga goal. Blackburn’s is -13 and it’s no contest when it comes to goals scored. Blackburn can’t catch Forest without some help from Ipswich. It’s out of their hands. They need Bristol City to score against Birmingham, who still lead 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

GOAL! Burton 2-3 Reading (Woodrow, 72 min)

Hang on!

GOAL! Nottingham Forest 3-0 Ipswich (Assombalonga, 69 min)

This should be enough for Nottingham Forest. Britt Assombalonga makes up for his penalty miss a few moments ago, barrelling into the area and walloping high past Bialkowski at his near post!

Assombalonga scores the third for Forest.
Assombalonga scores the third for Forest. Photograph: Matt Bunn/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Burton 1-3 Reading (Turner, 69 min)

Burton are back in it.

Ben Turner gets one back for Albion.
Ben Turner gets one back for Albion. Photograph: ProSports/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Rotherham 1-0 Derby (Frecklington, 66 min)

Lee Frecklington with the goal for Rotherham.

GOAL! Aston Villa 0-1 Brighton (Murray pen, 64 min)

Glenn Murray converts from 12 yards and Brighton are winning the Championship title as it stands!

Glenn Murray celebrates scoring the opener, from the pot for Brighton.
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring the opener, from the pot for Brighton. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images



Sam Baldock races through on goal and although he gets a shot away, he’s being fouled from behind by Nathan Baker. Once Sam Johnstone saves his shot, the referee blows for the foul by Baker and sends the Villa defender off!

Nathan Baker, sent-off by match referee Darren Bond.
Nathan Baker, sent-off by match referee Darren Bond. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA


Britt Asombalonga sees his penalty saved and Forest aren’t out of the woods yet! He dispatched one confidently in the first half, but this time Bialkowski flies to his right to push this one wide!


Jamie Ward races through and he’s sent tumbling!

GOAL! Burton 0-3 Reading (Kermogant, 64 min)

Yann Kermogant makes the points safe for Reading with a composed finish. They’re looking strong as they head into the play-offs.

GOAL! Newcastle 2-0 Barnsley (Mbemba, 60 min)

Ayoze Perez’s shot is saved, but Chancel Mbemba isn’t about to miss the rebound. Is the title heading to Newcastle? They’re doing their job. Brighton aren’t doing theirs.

Chancel Mbemba celebrates scoring the second for Newcastle.
Chancel Mbemba celebrates scoring the second for Newcastle. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters


GOAL! Norwich 2-0 QPR (Pritchard, 60 min)

Alex Pritchard’s volley doubles Norwich’s lead.

Bristol City are pressing at Ashton Gate. If they score, Birmingham drop into the bottom three.

Danny Graham almost restores Blackburn’s two-goal lead, only to fire over when given a clear sight of goal. Bad miss. All hope’s not lost yet for Blackburn, however, because the picture could change if Bristol City score against Birmingham.

GOAL! Nottingham Forest 2-0 Ipswich (Cohen, 57 min)

Chris Cohen, a Nottingham Forest stalwart, sees his deflected shot fly into the top corner from 20 yards and the City Ground erupts with joy! Forest are edging ever closer to safety now. Their goal difference is -11 to Blackburn’s -13 now.

Ipswich Town’s Bartosz Bialkowski is beaten by Forest’s Chris Cohen shot for the second.
Ipswich Town’s Bartosz Bialkowski is beaten by Forest’s Chris Cohen shot for the second. Photograph: Matt Bunn/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Brentford 1-2 Blackburn (Vibe, 56 min)

Bad, er, vibes for Blackburn. Lasse Vibe meets a cross from Harlee Dean the right and flicks superbly into the far corner to get Brentford back into the game. This is dismal news for Blackburn. Tony Mowbray has his head in his hands. And...

There’s been no change in the situation at the bottom yet. Blackburn are still the team heading into League One. A Blackburn goal - or an Ipswich goal - will put Forest back into the bottom three, though. “How are the nerves?” says Paul Morris. “As a Blackburn fan, I’ve sworn off chicken and currently have three YouTube tabs open simultaneously playing “Zen Garden Relaxing MUSIC”; “RAIN IN THE WOODS SLEEP SOUNDS” and “The Wind in the Trees (10 Hours of White Noise)“ to try and calm myself down. It’s not working. The nerves are shot.”

GOAL! Wigan 1-1 Leeds (Wood pen, 50 min)

Chris Wood equalises from the spot for Leeds.

Chris Wood scores the equaliser from the spot for Leeds.
Chris Wood scores the equaliser from the spot for Leeds. Photograph: Paul Burrows/Reuters


Ipswich almost equalise straight away. Forest have dropped off. Their lead is intact, though. Down at Griffin Park, meanwhile, Canos bends one just wide for Brentford.

We’ve kicked off again. How are your nerves?

Half-time: Aston Villa 0-0 Brighton

Brighton need a goal, else the title’s heading north.

Half-time: Newcastle 1-0 Barnsley

One fine goal from Ayoze Perez and Newcastle are doing all they can in their pursuit of the title. They’re still playing at Villa Park, where it’s Aston Villa 0-0 Brighton.

Half-time: Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham

An early strike from Che Adams means Birmingham deservedly lead at the break. They need it to stay this way, though, because a Bristol City equaliser would drop Harry Redknapp’s side in it.

Half-time: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Ipswich

Britt Assombalonga’s penalty has calmed the nerves at the City Ground.Sort of. Forest have been pretty terrible, but they lead and they’re staying up on goals scored. It’s bound to be a fraught 45 minutes of football after the break, though.


Half-time: Brentford 0-2 Blackburn

Blackburn are doing their bit. It’s not enough at the moment, though. At the moment, they’re going down. At the moment, it’s too little, too late.

RED CARD! Marco Matias (Sheffield Wednesday)

Matias scythes down Sone Aluko from behind and he’s shown an instant red card at Hillsborough.

Referee Graham Scott shows a red card to Marco Matias.
Referee Graham Scott shows a red card to Marco Matias. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters


This is on a knife edge now. If Blackburn score again, they’ll go back above Forest on goal difference. If Bristol City equalise against Birmingham, Harry Redknapp’s team will be in the thick of it. At the City Ground, meanwhile, Ipswich almost equalise immediately, but Christophe Berra heads just wide.

GOAL! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Ipswich (Assombalonga pen, 43 min)

Assomabalonga crashes the penalty high into the left and almost takes the roof off the City Ground! That’s how to blast away the tension! Forest are staying up as it stands!

Britt Assombalonga scores from the spot to make it 1-0 Forest.
Britt Assombalonga scores from the spot to make it 1-0 Forest. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images



A throw’s chucked in from the right. Ipswich have dozed off. Jamie Ward dashes into the area and lobs it over the onrushing Bialkowski, who cleans him out. A moment of madness from the Ipswich keeper.

Brighton aren’t themselves at Villa Park. Villa have had the best chances and could have scored twice. Which is all good news for Newcastle.

Ipswich hit the bar! The ball breaks to Samuel in the Forest area. He takes a touch and shoots. It’s deflected, but Smith somehow turns it on to the bar and over for a corner!

Blackburn look calm and collected at Griffin Park. This has been such an assured performance from Tony Mowbrary’s side. Pressure? What pressure?

Eric Lihaj meets a cross from the left, six yards out, and turns it over. A poor miss from the Forest defender. But a moment of promise at the City Ground.

GOAL! Huddersfield 0-2 Cardiff (Bennett, 29 min)

Ouch. As it stands, 10-man Huddersfield will be playing Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs.


The Forest fans are trying to rouse their players. The players have to calm down. This is a perfect example of how the mind can work against you.

Forest are doing nothing. They’re sleepwalking towards League One. They aren’t troubling Ipswich at all.

GOAL! Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Fulham (Neeskens Kebano, 25 min)

Fulham always score.

Neeskens Kebano opens for Fulham.
Neeskens Kebano opens for Fulham. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters


GOAL! Norwich 1-0 QPR (Hoolahan, 22 min)

Wes Hoolahan weaves his way through and finishes coolly.

Wes Hoolahan scores the first for Norwich.
Wes Hoolahan scores the first for Norwich. Photograph: Tony O'Brien/Reuters


GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Barnsley (Perez, 23 min)

Yedlin pops up on the overlap and drives a low ball to the near post, where Perez stupendously Kanus a backheeled finish into the net. Newcastle are winning the league as it stands!

Ayoze Perez scores the opener for Newcastle.
Ayoze Perez scores the opener for Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA


RED CARD! Danny Ward (Huddersfield)

Huddersfield were a goal down to Cardiff; now they’re a man down. Their goalkeeper, Danny Ward, crazily handles outside the area after an awful backpass and that means he’ll be suspended for the play-offs.

Danny Ward receives a straight red after appearing to handle outside the box.
Danny Ward receives a straight red after appearing to handle outside the box. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters


GOAL! Burton 0-2 Reading (Obita, 21 min)

Reading are properly in charge at the Pirelli Stadium.

Jordan Obita makes it 2-0 Reading.
Jordan Obita makes it 2-0 Reading. Photograph: ProSports/REX/Shutterstock


They know what’s happening at the City Ground all right. It’s gone very quiet there. It’s still goalless and a Forest breakthrough would alter the picture again, but the tension is taking hold and smothering the atmosphere. The big problem for Forest is that Blackburn’s goal difference is a goal better than theirs now. They’ll be in huge trouble if Blackburn score one or two more at Brentford, whose goalkeeper, Daniel Bentley, isn’t having a great game.

GOAL! Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City (Che Adams, 16 min)

Another huge goal down at the bottom, another blow for Nottingham Forest! Che Adams wriggles through on goal, uses his strength to turn and shoots low and hard into the Bristol City net!

Che Adams finds the net for Birmingham City.
Che Adams finds the net for Birmingham City. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Brentford 0-2 Blackburn (Guthrie, 16 min)

In the away end at Griffin Park,, the Blackburn fans can’t believe it! They’re two goals to the good and survival is well within their grasp now! Sam Gallagher does well to bustle to the byline on the right and cut the ball back. Bentley pushes it out as far as Guthrie, whose shot should be saved by the Brentford goalkeeper. Instead it slips under his body and Blackburn score again!

Danny Guthrie reels off in celebration.
Danny Guthrie reels off in celebration. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters


Blackburn have their tails up now! They’re chasing a second goal. Nervy times for Nottingham Forest, who need a goal against Ipswich. They’ve lost Mustapha Carayol to an injury now. On comes Zach Clough.


GOAL! Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Fulham (Winnall, 9 min)

Set up by Kieran Lee, Sam Winnall drives low into the bottom corner. Hillsborough’s happy.

Sam Winnall scores the opener for Wednesday.
Sam Winnall scores the opener for Wednesday. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Brentford 0-1 Blackburn (Mulgrew,10 min)

Charlie Mulgrew bends a brilliant free-kick into the top left corner from 25 yards to give Blackburn the lead! As it stands, they’re staying up and Nottingham Forest have dropped into the bottom three!

Charlie Mulgrew scores the opening goal from a free-kick.
Charlie Mulgrew scores the opening goal from a free-kick. Photograph: Javier Garcia/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


Ipswich have threatened at the City Ground, Skuse shooting from 20 yards and drawing a good save from Smith. Meanwhile...

GOAL! Huddersfield 0-1 Cardiff (Zohore, 7 min)

Huddersfield are choosing a bad moment to run out of steam.

Kenneth Zohore scores the opener for Cardiff.
Kenneth Zohore scores the opener for Cardiff. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters


Birmingham have started promisingly at Ashton Gate, which bodes well for their survival hopes. Blackburn are beginning to settle as well, going close at Griffin Park.

GOAL! Wigan 1-0 Leeds (Tunnicliffe, 6 min)

Oh, Leeds. Wigan are already down, but they’ve scored with their first attack, Ryan Tunnicliffe, rounding Robert Green and finishing smartly.

Ryan Tunnicliffe celebrates scoring the opener for Wigan.
Ryan Tunnicliffe celebrates scoring the opener for Wigan. Photograph: Paul Burrows/Reuters


Barnsley have made a strong start at Newcastle, but now the game’s been stopped because of a nasty head injury to Isaac Hayden. The Newcastle defender took a heavy blow and is looking groggy.

GOAL! Burton 0-1 Reading (Mendes, 3 min)

Reading have taken an early lead at Burton through Joseph Mendes, who blasted in from close range. Jaap Stam’s side look determined to go into the play-offs in good form.

Joseph Mendes celebrates after he scoring the opener for Reading.
Joseph Mendes celebrates after he scoring the opener for Reading. Photograph: JASONPIX/REX/Shutterstock


GOAL! Wolves 1-0 Preston (Batth, 1 min)

A fine start for Wolves! Danny Batth is unchallenged as he heads home a corner.


There’s a cracking atmosphere early on at the City Ground and Forest are making the early running, threatening from a corner. Ipswich are having to deal with some ferocious pressure in the opening minutes, Mills and Ward both going close for the hosts.

Peep! We are off! “Not that I am a fan of Mike Ashley’s or his running of Newcastle, but don’t the travails of the Forest, Birmingham and Blackburn put the criticism of his reign into perspective a little bit?” says Shaun Wilkinson. “I am not sure I would swap Ashley for any of those owners...”

He has admittedly responded well each time they’ve gone down. But he has managed to take Newcastle down twice.

The teams are emerging at Championship grounds up and down the country. It’s almost time.

November 1995. Blackburn 7-1 Nottingham Forest.

Blackburn v Nottingham Forest, May 1999. Forest were already down. Blackburn went and did a Hull. They were relegated four days later.

Title race team news!

Aston Villa: Johnstone; Bree, Chester, Baker, Taylor; Lansbury, Hourihane, Amavi, Bacuna; Adomah, Hogan. Subs: Bunn, Richards, Elphick, Gardner, O’Hare, Davis, Grealish.

Brighton: Stockdale; Bruno, Dunk, Tomori, Pocognoli; Knockaert, Sidwell, Stephens, Murphy; Baldock, Murray. Subs: Maenpaa, Bong, Rosenior, Kayal, Skalak, March, Hemed.

Referee: Darren Bond.

Newcastle: Elliot, Yedlin, Hayden, Mbemba, Dummett, Atsu, Shelvey, Colback, Gouffran, Perez, Mitrovic. Subs: Darlow, Haidara, Lazaar, Anita, Diame, Gayle, Murphy.

Barnsley: Davies; Janko, Elder, Jackson, MacDonald; Scowen, Moncur, James, Kent; Hedges, Bradshaw. Subs: Townsend, Evans, Jones, Mowatt, Williams, Lee, Watkins.

Referee: James Linington.

Relegation scrap team news!

Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Dean, Barbet, Field; Yennaris, Kerschbaumer, Jota, Sawyers; Canos, Vibe. Subs: Bjelland, Jozefzoon, Hofmann, McCormack, Egan, Bonham, Westbrooke.

Blackburn: Raya; Lenihan, Ward, Mulgrew, Nyambe; Lowe, Guthrie, Williams, Bennett; Graham, Gallagher. Subs: Steele, Hoban, Feeney, Emnes, Lucas Joao, Akpan, Conway.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)

Bristol City: Giefer, Little, Flint, Wright, Bryan, Brownhill, Smith, Pack, Paterson, Abraham, Taylor. Subs: Tomlin, O’Dowda, Reid, Djuric, O’Leary, Kelly, Hegeler.

Birmingham: Kuszczak; Nsue, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds; Davis, Kieftenbeld, Gardner, Maghoma; Che Adams, Jutkiewicz. Subs: Legzdins, Gleeson, Donaldson, Stewart, Frei, Dacres-Cogley, Bielik.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Nottm Forest: Smith; Mancienne, Worrall, Mills, Lichaj; Vaughan, Ward, Cohen, Osborn; Carayol, Assombalonga. Subs: Tshibola, Clough, Evtimov, Lam, Vellios, Cash, Brereton.

Ipswich: Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers, Berra, Kenlock; Ward,
Skuse, Huws, Rowe; Sears, Samuel. Subs: Gerken, Pitman, Webster, Dozzell, Moore, Emmanuel, Downes.

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Up at the top, meanwhile, the destination of the title isn’t settled yet. Chris Hughton’s Brighton are at Villa Park and the leaders will guarantee top spot for themselves if they beat mid-table Aston Villa, but Newcastle are only a point behind. Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle are at home to Barnsley - shame Tottenham aren’t the visitors to St James’s Park actually - and their goal difference is eight goals better than Brighton’s. What a fine job Benitez has done at Newcastle. But will he still be there next season? Or will Mike Ashley strike again?

Hello. Thirty-eight years since Nottingham Forest won their second consecutive European Cup, 22 years since Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League, six since Birmingham City lifted the League Cup trophy at Wembley, this is the day when one of these fallen clubs falls even further and drops into League One. It is a day to stock. Whatever happens, it’s a day to wonder where it all went so badly and humiliatingly wrong, even for the two lucky clubs that manage to survive. It’s a day for serious questions. It’s a day for their supporters and players to pull together and it’s also a day to point fingers of blame at those responsible for this mess. Above all, it’s a proud day for the football authorities! Fit and proper? Pull the other one.

For this is a tale that starts and finishes with preposterous ownership, with each club victims of appallingly craven, ruinous and shambolic decision-making at the top. “It all goes to the top of the club and the erratic ownership of Fawaz al-Hasawi,” writes Daniel Taylor, our chief football writer and resident Forest expert. “Under the Kuwaiti, Forest have been getting progressively worse every season, with eight permanent m