Final-day Premier League relegation drama could open the door for Middlesbrough next season

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Middlesbrough’s promotion chances might have been boosted on a dramatic final day of the Premier League season as Leeds United survived at Burnley’s expense. It means that Burnley will compete in next season’s Championship along with the already-relegated Norwich City and Watford.

Leeds United managed to record a 2-1 victory at Brentford on the final day and secured their top-flight status for a third straight year, as Burnley lost to Newcastle United to end their six-year stay in the richest league in the world. And that relegation will come at an even bigger cost for the Lancashire club.

The Clarets were bought by American consortium ALK last year, headed up by former Wall Street financier Alan Pace who is now the club chairman. To complete the takeover, Burnley’s existing shareholders were paid using a loan from MSD UK Holdings. That loan, believed to be in the region of £ 65 million, was due to be paid back over a four-year period, but the most recent set of club accounts show that relegation from the Premier League would change that.

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The club’s accounts noted: “In the Premier League relegation event, the repayment for the capital element of the loan is brought forward, with a significant proportion falling due for repayment shortly after the end of the season that the relegation event takes place.”

That could be a huge boost to Boro because the loan repayment could wipe out Burnley’s entire first parachute payment. The controversial financial payment from the Premier League was brought in to soften the blow for the first three years a club is out of the top flight, although in practice what it has achieved is creating a huge advantage to those sides coming out of the Premier League over existing Championship clubs.

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A recent Sheffield Hallam University report revealed that teams in the receipt of Premier League parachute payments were three times more likely to be promoted to the top flight than those not. In recent years the average has crept up to becoming close to two in three sides relegated going straight back up.

As Boro know only too well though, the financial advantage is not a sure-fire guarantee for promotion. And in the most recent season, only Fulham were able to go back up on the first time of asking, although Bournemouth were able to also make use of their second year of parachute payments to finish second. As for West Brom and Sheffield United, they both suffered due to poor new management picks before the start of the campaign.

As far as next season is concerned, as well as their financial perils, Burnley will also need a new manager this summer and a huge squad rebuild. Nine of their first-team players are out of contract and many other players will be expected to depart as they look to stay in the top flight if possible.

Norwich City will likely be early favorites for promotion having yo-yoed between the top two divisions in recent years, but Watford have a bit more uncertainty having done similar. Having exhausted just every possible avenue as far as managers are concerned, this summer they have appointed Forest Green’s Rob Edwards, who is untested at this level.

It potentially leaves a door or two open next season which Boro can look to try and exploit as they aim to rebuild themselves this summer and contend for promotion next term. It should be noted though, they won’t be alone in these kind of ambitions, while Sheffield United and West Brom will have similar advantages to Bournemouth next term as they receive their slightly smaller second-year parachute payments.

Meanwhile, Boro will play a Tees-Wear derby next season after Sunderland confirmed their place back in the Championship next season following four years down in League One. The Black Cats beat Wycombe Wanderers in the play-off final to join Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United in coming up from the third tier for next year. It leaves just one place in next term’s division to be decided, with Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield contesting the Championship play-off final on Sunday to decide who the third and final team promoted to the Premier League will be.

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