THE Championship relegation battle is too close to call with four games to play, with ten clubs still at serious risk of dropping into League One.

On the pitch, Luton and Barnsley have been in serious trouble all season and look to have it all to do to stay up, but off it, Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday both face potential points penalties that could plunge them deep into trouble.

Who are the clubs fighting for survival in the next fortnight? And how are they likely to fare?

15 WIGAN (53pts)

At the start of last week, Wigan looked certain to retain their Championship status thanks to a fine run of form since the end of lockdown. However, the decision to call in the administrators changed everything, with the EFL announcing the imposition of a 12-point penalty that will be enacted at the end of the season.

Despite having beaten QPR on Wednesday, Wigan would be joint-bottom if 12 points were taken from their total – but crucially, they would not be down and out.

Even with their penalty, the Latics would only be five points from safety, and given they still have to play Barnsley, Hull and Charlton, it is quite conceivable they could render the EFL’s punishment irrelevant.


Like Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday’s performances on the pitch will almost certainly be good enough to see them finish outside the bottom three. However, like the Latics, the Owls’ Championship fate is, to a large degree, in the hands of the EFL.

Last November, the EFL charged Wednesday with misconduct and claimed the club had sold their Hillsborough stadium to owner Dejphon Chansiri to try to avoid breaking spending rules.

Wednesday have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, but if they are found guilty, there have been suggestions they could be fined up to 21 points. Such a heavy fine would inevitably leave them in League One.

17 BIRMINGHAM (49pts)

Prior to lockdown, it looked as though Birmingham would finish above the bottom three with a bit to spare. However, the Blues have been in desperate form since, picking up just two points from five matches.

As a result, they are now just four points clear of the drop zone, and their manager, Pep Clotet, left in the wake of Wednesday’s defeat to Swansea.

Birmingham’s owners hope to have a new manager in place before Sunday’s game with Stoke. The Blues probably need just one more win to be safe, but they are far from guaranteed to get it.


Having pressed the panic button when his side lost to Swansea in their first game after lockdown, Steve Gibson will be relieved by what has happened since. Middlesbrough have still been unconvincing at times, but a return of six points from four matches gives them a realistic chance of survival.

Wednesday’s win at Millwall represented a step in the right direction, and if Boro can repeat that performance and see off Bristol City on Saturday, they will be within touching distance of safety.

Neil Warnock revels in his reputation as a firefighter, and the 71-year-old has stopped the rot that had set in under Jonathan Woodgate. He has been helped by a relatively kind fixture list, and three of Boro’s remaining four games put them against teams with little to play for.


When Huddersfield lost their first two games after lockdown, they looked to be in deep trouble. A 3-0 win at Birmingham eased the pressur, but successive goalless draws against Preston and Reading have left the Terriers just two points clear of the drop zone.

Danny Cowley’s side have at least proved hard to break down, and keeping clean sheets is a good habit to have at this stage of the season. They could do with improving at the other end though, with a lot of their goalscoring burden falling on 22-year-old Karlan Grant.

Huddersfield will know a lot more about their fate by 8pm tomorrow as they host rock-bottom Luton at the John Smith’s Stadium. Win, and they will be as good as safe.

20 STOKE (46pts)

They looked doomed when they lost to Middlesbrough and Wigan, then turned things around as they thrashed Barnsley 4-0. Since lockdown, Stoke have been on a rollercoaster ride.

They remain in the mire, although their performance against Barnsley highlighted why their plight is somewhat surprising. James Chester, James McClean, Tom Ince and Sam Vokes might not be the players they were – but they are surely too good for League One?

Like Middlesbrough, the Potters have struggled to deal with their crash from the Premier League, and Michael O’Neill has never quite managed to hold the disparate parts of his squad together. Sunday’s game with Birmingham is massive.

21 CHARLTON (46pts)

Given everything he has to deal with this season, it is remarkable that Lee Bowyer has guided Charlton to a position where they still have a fighting chance of survival.

From the lingering effects of the club’s off-field turmoil to the loss of star striker Lyle Taylor, who refused to play on when his contract expired, Charlton have been up against it.

They have rolled with the punches, but a return of just one point from their last three games suggests their issues might finally be catching up with them. If they are to survive, they will want the job finished before they head to Leeds on the final day.

22 HULL (45pts)

Hull’s fortunes nosedived in January when Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki were both sold. The Tigers went 14 games without a win, a run that was only ended against Middlesbrough last week.

That took the Tigers out of the bottom three, but subsequent defeats to West Brom and Bristol City mean they have tumbled back in. Hull have the air of a side increasingly resigned to their fate, although the fact they still have to host Luton means they cannot be completely written off. Fail to beat Millwall at the KCOM on Saturday though, and it will be harder than ever to see them surviving.

23 BARNSLEY (42pts)

When Barnsley won three games in a row prior to lockdown, it looked as though a great escape might be on. The Tykes’ form has held up reasonably well since, with two wins and two draws from their five post-lockdown games, but it could be a case of too little, too late.

Four points adrift of safety, and with a dreadful goal difference that means the gap is effectively five, Barnsley will probably have to win three of their remaining four matches to survive. That is not impossible, but the fixture list has not been kind, with Barnsley’s final two away games taking them to Leeds and Brentford.

24 LUTON (41pts)

If not quite down and out, then Luton are hanging on to their Championship status by their fingernails, with Tuesday’s failure to beat Barnsley feeling a bit like the final nail in their coffin.

Once goal difference is taken into account, they are effectively five points adrift of safety, and their fate will be as good as sealed if they lose at Huddersfield tomorrow. The rest of their fixtures do not look too daunting, but while Nathan Jones has steadied the ship since his reappointment, a return to League One still beckons.