Could the Black Cats’ fate be sealed this weekend? Here are the scenarios
SUNDERLAND’S relegation to League One appears only a matter of time, and it could be confirmed as early as this weekend.
The Black Cats have endured another wretched campaign, are rock bottom of the Championship, and the prospect of back-to-back relegations is looming having crashed out of the Premier League 12 months ago.
Sunderland have spent only one season in the third tier in the club’s 139-year history, back in 1987-88, but it is almost certain to be back at that level next term.
The mathematics still show that Chris Coleman’s side has a chance of survival, but realistically it is a question of when rather than if relegation is rubber-stamped.
We take a look at what would need to happen for relegation to be confirmed on Saturday.
CAN SUNDERLAND BE RELEGATED ON SATURDAY?
Yes – but not if they beat Burton Albion. Beat the Brewers, and Sunderland will stay in the survival race – mathematically, at least.
BUT WHAT IF THEY DON’T WIN?
If Sunderland drop points against Burton, they could be relegated on Saturday if other results go against them.
SOUNDS OMINOUS. WHAT WOULD NEED TO HAPPEN?
If Sunderland fail to beat Burton, and both Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers better the Black Cats’ result – ie Sunderland draw and they both win, or Sunderland lose and they avoid defeat – Chris Coleman’s side will be relegated.
AND WHO DO BIRMINGHAM AND BOLTON PLAY?
Both have tough games, with Birmingham at home to Sheffield United, while Bolton are away to Premier League-bound Championship leaders Wolves.
IS THAT THE ONLY SCENARIO THAT RELEGATION CAN BE RUBBER-STAMPED?
No. If Sunderland lose, Barnsley also come into the equation.
A win for the Tykes at Leeds United would mean that EITHER Birmingham or Bolton avoiding defeat would be enough to send Sunderland down.
THAT’S STILL A LOT OF IFS, BUTS, AND MAYBES
Indeed. With three games to go, and so many teams still involved, there are a lot of permutations.
SO WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN?
The chances are that Sunderland’s relegation will not be confirmed this weekend and they will receive another stay of execution – either under their own power by completing a League double over Burton or, failing that, thanks to other teams doing them favours elsewhere.