Reading beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 to secure promotion to the Premier League after a four-year absence from English soccer’s elite division.
Mikele Leigertwood’s 81st-minute goal at the Madjeski Stadium last night sealed the home win that lifted The Royals to 88 points atop the Championship with two matches left, guaranteeing them a top-two finish.
Reading, which dropped out of the Premier League on the final day of the 2007-08 season on goal difference, missed out on promotion last year by losing to Swansea in the playoff final at Wembley stadium in London.
“After the worst moment of my career at Wembley, May 30th last year, now to this, my best moment,” Reading manager Brian McDermott said on his team’s website. “I can celebrate for the next couple of months.”
Winning promotion to the world’s richest soccer league is worth at least 90 million pounds ($143 million), accountant Deloitte LLP estimates. Promoted teams benefit from at least 40 million pounds in additional revenue and minimum guaranteed payments of 48 million pounds in the following four seasons if they drop straight back down.
Fifty-four percent of all promoted teams retained their Premier League status the next season, according to Infostrada Sports. The percentage rises to 63 percent for teams who finish first in the Championship.
Southampton, West Ham
Second-place Southampton has 85 points after a 3-1 win at Peterborough. West Ham tied Bristol City 1-1 to advance to 80 points, assuring it will finish at least third. Birmingham is fourth with 72 points, one ahead of Blackpool and Cardiff.
While the top two teams gain automatic promotion, the next four play off for the last available spot in the Premier League.
Reading rebounded after taking four points from its first four matches, sealing promotion with a run of 15 victories in its past 17 games.
Owner John Madejski is close to selling Reading, which finished eighth and 18th in its previous two campaigns in the top flight, to Russian tycoon Anton Zingarevich’s Thames Sports Investment, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reported.
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