LONDON, United Kingdom, May 6 – Cardiff City returned to the Premier League on Sunday when a goalless draw at home to Reading was enough to give veteran manager Neil Warnock a record eighth promotion.
Only the top two at the end of the regular season were guaranteed a place in English football’s lucrative top flight and second-tier title-winners Wolves had already secured one of those spots heading into Sunday’s final round of regular-season Championship matches.
A draw left Cardiff waiting on Fulham’s result at Birmingham, but the Cottagers 3-1 loss left the London club facing the lottery of the play-offs, where the teams finishing third-sixth compete for the lone remaining promotion place.
The draw saw Cardiff return to the Premier League after a single season in the competition in 2013/14.
When Warnock took over some 18 months ago, Cardiff were at the other end of the table but Malaysian owner Vincent Tan’s decision to bring the experienced manager to the Welsh capital paid dividends.
“I’m just so proud of them that they listened what I had to say,” said Warnock. “It seems such a long time ago (when he arrived at Cardiff), the state the club was in. I’ve seen the fans today on the pitch, a full house, the owners and everyone together, it’s got to be the best ever job I’ve done in my life.
“We’re going to get one or two things than thrown at us next season. But hey ho, it’s better than playing in the Championship,” he added.
Asked how this promotion compared to his previous seven, Warnock replied: “It’s the best one by a mile. If you knew what I’ve had to do off the field as well as on the field. I think it’s an incredible feat.
Warnock previously enjoyed promotion with Scarborough, Notts County twice, Huddesrsfield, Plymouth, Sheffield United and most recently QPR in 2011.
“I said to the lads on Thursday, if things don’t go right and we go into the play-offs, we’ve still had a great season. They’re proud of being Bluebirds again, the fans. Everyone wants to support the club now and that’s lovely.”
Birmingham were still facing relegation when they kicked off but first-half goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz (15) and Harlee Dean (43) settled their nerves.
Tom Cairney scored for Fulham with six minutes left but Che Adams’s 89th-minute goal put the result beyond doubt.
Barnsley’s 4-1 loss at Derby ended their brief stay in the Championship, with Burton — managed by Nigel Clough — also relegated after a 2-1 loss at Preston.
Meanwhile Bolton beat the drop in remarkable fashion after beating Nottingham Forest 3-2.
Bolton were going down with three minutes left when Forest led 2-1 after goals from Ben Osborn (70) and Jack Colback (79) overturning Adam Le Fondre’s early volley.
But David Wheater (87) and Aaron Wilbraham (88) scored to keep the Wanderers in the division to the delight of their delirious home crowd.
Elsewhere, bottom club Sunderland stunned champions Wolves 3-0, in front of prospective new owner Stewart Donald.
On-loan pair Ovie Ejaria (19) and Ashley Fletcher (45) put the hosts 2-0 up before Paddy McNair scored Sunderland’s third midway through the second half.
Atdhe Nuhiu (14, 60 and 90) hit a hat-trick in Sheffield Wednesday’s 5-1 thrashing of Norwich at Hillsborough, with Wednesday’s city rivals United winning 3-2 at Bristol City.
Leeds beat QPR 2-0 with goals from Kemar Roofe (30) and Kalvin Phillips (47), while Brentford and Hull drew 1-1 at Griffin Park.