Leicester promoted to Premier League after Leeds lose

Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi celebrates scoring against SouthamptonGetty Images

Leicester City have been promoted to the Premier League after Leeds United were thumped by Queens Park Rangers.

The 4-0 defeat at Loftus Road means Daniel Farke’s side stay four points behind Championship leaders Leicester with only one game left.

The Foxes remain on track to amass 100 points on their way back to the top flight following their relegation last season.

Leicester can now claim the Championship title on Monday with victory at Preston if third-placed Ipswich fail to beat Hull City on Saturday.

Ipswich can join Leicester in the Premier League next season if they pick up five points from their remaining three matches.

The ‘Marescalator’ to promotion

Leicester City were flying in their campaign to return to the Premier League earlier this season but, after a serious loss of form late on, they have recovered to vault over the finishing line.

Tuesday’s 5-0 hammering of Southampton made it back-to-back wins for a side that had looked to be stumbling towards automatic promotion.

In mid-February, the title and rise back to the top flight seemed inevitable – Leicester were 12 points clear at the summit and had a 14-point cushion to third spot.

The Foxes, some said, were aboard the ‘Marescalator’ – an upwardly mobile, smooth-passing, possession-hungry machine operated by their Italian boss Enzo Maresca, who was taking Leicester only one way: straight up.

But then they seized up.

Four losses and just one win from six matches – including a dramatic defeat by Leeds who were 17 points adrift of Leicester at the start of January – turned it into a four-way battle for a top-two finish – with the Whites, Ipswich and Southampton the other contenders.

For all but two of the 176 days between 23 September and 17 March, Leicester had been top.

They were replaced by Leeds before Ipswich shot ahead of them both, forcing Leicester out of the automatic promotion spots by the end of March.

But just as Leicester faltered, those around them also dropped crucial points, allowing the Foxes a chance to regroup and seal their top-flight return.

What awaits them in the Premier League, however, remains uncertain.

The club are due to face an independent commission after they were charged by the Premier League for alleged breaches of profit and sustainability rules (PSR) relating to their last three years in the top flight.

Tonight, a triumphant return is celebrated but, if found guilty of financial breaches, they could begin next season with a points penalty.

A new era and same Vardy party

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy with Foxes boss Enzo Maresca

Getty Images

When Leicester City dropped out of the Premier League last term, it brought an end to a decade of unparalleled success for the Foxes.

Just seven years earlier they had won an almost unfathomable Premier League title under Claudio Ranieri, and in 2021 they lifted the FA Cup for the first and only time in their history.

It all started with promotion as Championship title winners in 2013-14, and now the decade has been bookended with another promotion.

Jamie Vardy was there 10 years ago as an enormously gifted livewire, and now as a 37-year-old former England striker he has helped fire them back to the top flight with 18 goals in all competitions.

Vardy and a number of last season’s relegated side have had pivotal roles, with Nigeria midfielder Wilfred Ndidi playing alongside Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall – who has provided 14 assists to go with his 12 goals – while Jannik Vestergaard, Wout Faes, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin and Hamza Choudhury have shone in defence.

But it took a fundamental shift in football philosophy to turn Leicester from the flailing Foxes that went down 12 months ago into today’s promotion-clinching outfit.

Manager Maresca, a treble-winning assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City last season, has stuck steadfastly to an approach that places patient, deliberate and possession-based football above all else.

Last summer’s additions of midfielder Harry Winks, who has 10 caps for England, ex-Arsenal and Juventus winger Stephy Mavididi, and on-loan Sporting Lisbon forward Abdul Fatawu provided fresh attacking impetus.

And the assured presence of Mads Hermansen, who was named goalkeeper in the Championship’s team of the season, also cannot be understated.

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