Hull City earned promotion back to English soccer’s Premier League after a three-year absence following a 2-2 draw with Cardiff City.
The tie gave Hull a runner-up finish to Cardiff in the second-tier Championship. The top two teams in the league are automatically promoted to the top division, with the next four teams entering a playoff for a third spot.
Hull was relegated from the Premier League in 2010. The Tigers had earned promotion by winning the playoffs in 2008, marking the first time in their then 104-year history they qualified for the top flight.
Winning promotion to the world’s richest soccer league is worth at least 120 million pounds ($187 million), accountant Deloitte LLP estimates. Promoted teams benefit from at least 60 million pounds in additional revenue, the majority coming from the Premier League’s 3.02 billion-pound television contract that begins next season, and minimum 60 million pounds over the following four seasons if they drop straight back down.
Hull had to wait about 15 minutes after its match for promotion to be confirmed. That came when Watford, which started the day one point behind the Tigers, lost 2-1 to Leeds in a game which had a 15-minute injury delay in the first half.
Hull fell behind on a goal by Cardiff’s Fraizer Campbell early in the second half. The Tigers then took the lead on goals from Nick Proschwitz and Paul McShane five minutes apart.
Cardiff’s Andrew Taylor was sent off for a second yellow card in the final minute, and Hull had a chance to clinch the victory after being awarded a penalty kick in stoppage time. David Marshall stopped Proschwitz’s spot kick and Cardiff tied the game two minutes later on Nicky Maynard’s penalty after a handball against Abdoulaye Faye.
The draw gave Watford, which was still playing, a chance to finish second if it beat Leeds at home as the Hull players watched on television.
The game was delayed early after Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond was injured in a collision with teammate Ikechi Anya, who had been pushed by Leeds’s Dominic Poleon. Bond, who was playing because regular starter Manuel Almunia was injured in the warmup, was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Jack Bonham, who was making his professional debut.
Poleon gave Leeds the lead in the 42nd minute following a mix-up between Bonham and defender Joel Ekstrand. Watford’s Almen Abdi then tied the score in first-half stoppage time.
Watford went down to 10 men in the 60th minute when Troy Deeney received his second yellow card. With Watford pressing for the goal to send it up, Leeds’s Ross McCormack scored in stoppage time by lofting a long shot over the head of Bonham, who came off his line and could only get a fingertip to the ball.
Brighton beat Wolverhampton 2-0, Crystal Palace defeated Peterborough 3-2 and Leicester beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 to join Watford in the playoffs. Bolton started the day in the final playoff place, but drew 2-2 with Blackpool to lose out to Leicester on goal difference with each team finishing on 68 points.
Leicester will play Watford and Brighton meets Crystal Palace in the two-game playoffs, with the winners advancing to the May 27 final at Wembley Stadium in London.
Peterborough and Wolverhampton were relegated after their losses left them in the bottom three of the standings. The duo will join Bristol City, who had already been relegated, in third-tier League One next season. Wolves were relegated for the second straight year after finishing last in the Premier League last season.
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