(Updated May 17, 2021.)
Which English football clubs have been promoted or relegated, and which Premier League clubs qualified for Europe during the 2020-21 season?
We’ll be tracking all of that here until the last day of the Football League playoffs on May 31.
First, the latest “done and dusted” results as of May 17:
- Manchester City are Premier League champions.
- Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are relegated from the Premier League.
- Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham are relegated to League One along with Wycombe Wanderers
- Derby barely stay in the Championship on the last day … but may still go down instead of Wycombe due to a possible financial penalty.
Now, let’s have some quick background.
About Promotion and Relegation in English Soccer
After each season, clubs up and down the so-called pyramid of leagues in English soccer change leagues for the following season based on their results in the current season. The simplest version is that the top three teams go up a league, and the bottom three go down. Here’s our video explaining all the leagues and cups of English soccer.
For more, you can read this post on how promotion and relegation works in English football, or just enjoy our video guide:
European Places in English Soccer
What are the “European Places” in English football? At the top of the Premier League, with no other English league to be promoted to, clubs qualify for European club competitions during the following season. A brief breakdown for English clubs is as follows:
- Clubs 1-4 in the table qualify for the UEFA Champions League
- Club 5, and the winner of the FA Cup, qualify for the UEFA Europa League
- The winner of the EFL Cup qualifies for the UEFA Europa Conference League, which will debut in the 2021-22 season.
- If either Cup winner also finishes in the top 4, they go to the Champions League and their “cup winner’s spot” goes to the next team in the table that didn’t otherwise qualify for Europe.
- The winner of the Champions League or Europa League also qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Here is the current breakdown of European qualification in the Premier League:
Qualification for the 2021-22 Champions League
- Manchester City (Champions) are definitely in.
- Manchester United (2nd in PL) are definitely in.
- Leicester City (currently 3rd) need four points from their last two games to guarantee a spot.
- Chelsea (currently 4th) can guarantee their spot by winning their last two games — or winning this season’s Champions League Final against Manchester City.
Qualification for the 2021-22 Europa League
- Liverpool (currently 5th in PL) could still be caught by West Ham or Tottenham. But if they win their last two games, they will make the Top Four, because Chelsea and Leicester play each other, meaning one of them won’t accomplish what they need above.
- Leicester City (FA Cup winner), unless they also finish in the top four, in which case they go to the Champions League and this spot goes to no. 6 in the Premier League, currently Tottenham.
Qualification for the 2021-22 Europa Conference League
This would be the League Cup winner, but that’s Manchester City, who are also Premier League champions and in the Champions League. So this spot goes to the highest-placed Premier League team who didn’t make the Europa League — ie, #6 or #7. At the moment, Leicester finish top four, then this would be the 7th-place team, currently West Ham. If the FA Cup winner drops out of the Top 4, then they would go to the Europa League, this spot would go to #6, and #7 would be left out of Europe entirely.
Promotions and Relegations in English Soccer, 2020-21 Season
This, at least, is simpler than the European craziness!
Relegated from the Premier League to the Championship
- Sheffield United
- West Bromwich Albion
Promoted from the Championship to the Premier League
These two went up automatically:
- Norwich City (champions)
The playoffs will consist of
Check here to keep track of the 2020-21 English Football League Playoffs.
Relegated from the Championship to League One
It’s now official:
- Wycombe Wanderers
- Sheffield Wednesday
However, there is now a report in The Athletic that the Football League will punish Derby for financial mismanagement — and that said punishment could be a points deduction that takes them down, anyway, sparing Wycombe. Watch this space!
Promoted from League One to the Championship
These two went up automatically:
- Hull City (champions)
- Peterborough United
The playoffs will consist of:
- Lincoln City
- Oxford United
Relegated from League One to League Two
- Bristol Rovers
- Swindon Town
- Northampton Town
Promoted from League Two to League One
These three went up automatically:
These four are in the playoffs for the last promotion spot:
Relegated from League Two to the National League
- Grimsby Town
- Southend United
Promoted from the National League to League Two
We’ll stop here on the pyramid, as two scrappy teams will make their way from “non-league football” into the Football League.
This league paused for Covid and is now finishing up on May 29. So the drama is less intense here at the moment.
Whoever wins the National League outright will go up, and currently that top spot is occupied by Torquay United. The next two go into the playoffs with a first-round bye, and those places are the subject of a fierce fight between Hartlepool United, Stockport County, and Sutton United.
The next four have their own “quarterfinals round” of playoffs, and currently all of the above four clubs look set to at least be in there. After that, seven teams within seven points include Wrexham, famous for being owned by a couple of American actors, and Notts County, an original Football League from 1888 who were relegated out of it for the first time in 2019.
Promotion and Regelation Below the National League
Basically, Covid ended the seasons below the National League, so no one will be relegated from there, and for all the leagues and cups below level 5, it will be “as you were” for next season.