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Jon Riley 22nd Apr 2010 - 10:42

Lower League Lowdown - The Championship

Forget about the race for fourth place in the Premier League, disregard the Champions League and put the World Cup to the back of your minds (it's more than a month away on the other side of the world!).

The real action is in the Football League, where nine months of blood, sweat, toil and trips to Darlington and Morecambe come to a fascinating conclusion.

There are three weekends of action left in Leagues 1 and 2 while the Championship sides finish a week earlier to allow their international stars a well deserved rest before the World Cup.

As is customary with the closing stages of the season the race is on to secure those coveted promotion places, those sought after play-off spots and more importantly you might say, to avoid finishing your 46th game in that dreaded relegation zone.

We'll start in the Championship and the race for the play-offs. Leicester, Swansea and Blackpool have all leapt that final jump and are heading down the home straight towards their ultimate dream of promotion. However, there are only two spaces remaining as Nottingham Forest and Cardiff have already secured berths in the end of season challenge which means one of the three play-off chasing teams will sadly fail.

Forest are currently in third place and favourites with William Hill to gain promotion at 9/4, while the others are Cardiff 5/2, Leicester 3/1, Swansea 9/2 and Blackpool 15/2.

Blackpool may be the outsiders but a quick look at their run in sees them travel to already relegated Peterborough and entertain a mid-table Bristol City that have looked like they've been on their summer jollies for a while now. A very attainable 6 points for Ian Holloway's men.

The bottom half of the Championship is just as exciting despite two teams already being relegated. Plymouth and the lowly Peterborough are already facing League 1 football next season but who will join them?

It looks as if it will be a three way contest between Watford, Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday to avoid being the final team to fall through the Championship trapdoor.

Even more remarkable is that Palace and Wednesday meet at Hillsborough on the final match day of the season, which could and probably will turn into a winner-takes-all loser goes down scenario.

Wednesday are the bookies favourites to go down at 4/6 while Palace and Watford are 13/8 and 6/1 respectively.

All three teams face challenging fixtures in their penultimate fixtures.

The Owls will head to Cardiff hoping that the Bluebirds have one eye on the play-offs having secured their spot last week. The Eagles entertain West Brom at Selhurst, the title is now out of West Brom's grasp so will a trip to South London be that appealing? Watford have Reading at Vicarage Road and although the Royals can no longer reach the play-offs they are the most form team in the league and a difficult prospect.

One thing is for sure, it's certain to be a nerve filled day at both ends of the Championship come May 2nd. There'll be twists, turns and definitely tears.....but we wouldn't have it any other way would we!



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