April 15, 2018 / 4:33 AM / 5 days ago

Soccer: Championship leaders Wolves secure promotion to Premier League

(Reuters) - English Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers secured promotion to the Premier League on Saturday without even playing.

The Midlands club ended their six-year exile from the top flight when close rivals Fulham could only draw 1-1 with Brentford, who equalised in the 94th minute.

Wolves, who have 92 points from 42 games, require a further four points from their final four games to win the title but have already done enough to gain promotion.

The leaders have taken the division by storm this season although their success is not without controversy following their tie-up with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes.

Mendes represents head coach Nuno Espirito Santo and star players Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro. He also has a long association with Wolves owner Fosun International, which holds a stake in his company, and he advised it on the purchase of the club.

Rival Championship clubs were unhappy about the relationship, with Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani saying Wolves’ transfer policy was “not legal and fair”.

For a while on Saturday it looked as if Wolves would have to wait until Sunday, when they play Birmingham City, to go up when Fulham took a 70th-minute lead against Brentford through Aleksander Mitrovic.

But Neal Maupay’s last-gasp headed equaliser sent Wolves up and damaged Fulham’s own prospects.

The Cottagers stay third, one point behind Cardiff City, having played a game more. Cardiff beat Norwich City 2-0 with late goals from substitute Kenneth Zohore and Junior Hoilett.

Derby County, surprisingly beaten 3-1 by bottom club Burton Albion, drop out of the remaining playoff places, which are now occupied by Aston Villa, who beat Leeds United on Friday night, Middlesbrough and Millwall.

Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Clare Fallon, Neville Dalton

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