Burnley secured promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking after Vincent Kompany’s men won 2-1 at Middlesbrough on Friday.
A 19-game unbeaten league run has taken the Clarets 19 points clear of third-placed Luton, who have just six games remaining, at the top of the Championship.
The decision to act swiftly to land former Manchester City captain Kompany after his first managerial spell at Anderlecht came to an end has proved a masterstroke.
Many feared the worst when the Clarets’ six-year stay in the English top flight came to an end last season.
Due to the terms of a controversial leveraged takeover by an American consortium in late 2020, a “significant proportion” of a £65 million ($78 million) loan had to be repaid when they were relegated.
Nearly £70 million-worth ($87 million) of players departed as Nick Pope, Dwight McNeil, Nathan Collins and Maxwel Cornet were snapped up by Premier League clubs, while two pillars of the club’s stay in the top flight, Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, left on free transfers.
But Kompany has put together almost an entirely new squad at a fraction of the cost, with his knowledge of the Belgian market and connections at City helping to land bargains.
Full-back Connor Roberts scored the decisive goal 24 minutes from time at the Riverside when the Welsh international turned home Nathan Tella’s cross.
Ashley Barnes had given Kompany’s men the perfect start before Chuba Akpom levelled from the penalty spot with his 27th goal of the season.
Sheffield Utd boost
Burnley’s victory also helped Sheffield United edge closer to a Premier League return as Middlesbrough remain in fourth.
The Blades now have an eight-point cushion in second and a game in hand after Iliman Ndiaye scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Wigan at Bramall Lane.
Luton extended their unbeaten run to eight games at The Den, but a stalemate with fifth-placed Millwall did little to help either side’s promotion chances.
Norwich closed to within one point of the playoff places as goals from Liam Gibbs and Gabriel Sara beat Blackburn 2-0 at Ewood Park.
Preston are only a point behind the Canaries after a 2-0 win at struggling QPR, who are just one point above the relegation zone after a fourth consecutive defeat.
West Brom’s chances of finishing in the top six are fading, though, after they were beaten 3-1 at Rotherham.
Sunderland’s hope of back-to-back promotions also looks to have come to an end after remarkable 4-4 draw with Hull at the Stadium of Light.
The lead changed hands four times as Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo struck twice for Sunderland.
But Ozan Tufan’s penalty with the last kick of the game salvaged a point for the Tigers.
At the bottom of the table, Neil Warnock’s resurgent Huddersfield won 3-2 at Watford to climb out of the relegation zone.
Cardiff pulled one point clear of the drop zone after a 3-1 win at second-bottom Blackpool, who are now seven points adrift of safety.
Reading, who were docked six points this week for breach of the English Football League’s financial rules, drop into the bottom three after a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
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