End of the season drama

The end of the season in the Premiership is looking interesting. Three teams will, as always, be relegated out of the Premiership into the second division, confusingly called the Championship. But this year, for the first time, the four teams at the bottom are so close that no team has definitely been relegated. It all depends on their final games.

The four teams in jeopardy are Norwich, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Crystal Palace. Norwich are currently just outside the relegation zone, so they have, as the football commentators say, ‘their fate in their own hands’. If they win (away at Fulham), they send the other three teams down and stay up themselves. All the other three teams need a particular permutation of results elsewhere, with West Brom being the closest to the trapdoor.

All the last games will be played together on Sunday afternoon (coverage on the Internet at http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive), and are:

Fulham v Norwich
Southampton v Manchester United
Charlton Athletic v Crystal Palace
West Bromwich Albion v Portsmouth

To give you an idea of the different permutations, here’s the BBC clarifying what Southampton need to do to stay up:

“A win would relegate West Brom, but would be immaterial if Norwich win. If Norwich fail to win and Crystal Palace win, Southampton would need to win by the same margin as Palace win at Charlton. If Norwich fail to win, and Palace win, a Southampton victory by one goal less than Palace’s margin of victory would keep them up on the next criteria, goals scored. A draw would be enough if Norwich lose and Crystal Palace lose or draw and West Brom lose or draw.”

All the permutations in full at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4526865.stm