Birmingham relegated to third tier for first time since 1995

Birmingham have been relegated from the Sky Bet Championship despite a 1-0 home win over Norwich at St Andrew’s on the final day of the season.

Birmingham’s turbulent campaign, where six men have managed the club at one point or another, means their 13-season stay in the Championship is over and they return to the third tier for the first time in 29 years.

The Blues, who beat Norwich after Seung-Ho Paik’s second-half winner, would have stayed up if either Blackburn or Sheffield Wednesday had lost at Leicester and Sunderland respectively, or if Plymouth had failed to win at home to Hull.

Gary Rowett’s side would also have stayed up if they drew against the Canaries and Plymouth had lost by five goals.

Norwich, meanwhile, will face Leeds in the play-offs after David Wagner’s side finished sixth.

How Blues dropped to Sky Bet League One

Play was delayed for five minutes halfway through the first half due to a medical issue in a capacity crowd of 27,680 at St Andrew’s.

Birmingham showed the character needed of them at both ends in a bright early start.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 04: John Ruddy of Birmingham City looks dejected as he is escorted off the pitch as fans invade, after Birmingham City are relegated to League One, during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Norwich City at St Andrews (stadium) on May 04, 2024 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Birmingham have been relegated from the Championship despite a final day win over Norwich

Ethan Laird steamed into a challenge on Borja Sainz to win the ball, then Koji Miyoshi forced goalkeeper Angus Gunn to push the ball upwards at the near post after Jay Stansfield’s effort was blocked.

Miyoshi then delayed a first-time shot when unmarked from Lee Buchanan’s cross, before squeezing in a tame, poked effort once he had controlled the ball.

Blues wasted another clear chance when Paik scuffed a poor effort well off target from near the penalty spot from Stansfield’s cross.

Norwich broke through Marcelino Nunez, whose firm low shot was parried away by former Canaries keeper John Ruddy at his near post.

With news that Wednesday had gone 2-0 up, Stansfield’s fierce long-range effort fizzed just wide after a deflection and Laird looped over a header following a corner.

A long ball put Stansfield clean through but he delayed his shot when a lob was on, then Gunn’s reflexes denied Krystian Bielik from point-blank range when Miyoshi’s cross hit him.

Blues fans then howled for a penalty after Sam McCallum appeared to push Miyoshi but referee Oliver Langford waved play on.

Birmingham got the goal they desperately needed when Paik diverted home after Keshi Anderson’s shot was blocked by the sliding Ben Gibson and the ball bounced up for a header.

But with news filtering through of Blackburn taking the lead at Leicester, and Plymouth and Wednesday still winning, it was out of the Blues’ hands.

Blues made a double substitution in the 68th minute with Juninho Bacuna and Lukas Jutkiewicz replacing Anderson and Paik.

Jutkiewicz glanced well wide from Laird’s cross as the hosts pressed for a second goal.

With the scores coming through from elsewhere, the atmosphere dropped inside the ground and any momentum from Blues seemed to drain out of the players.

There was a delay while Norwich defender Shane Duffy had treatment for a cut above his eye which allowed a concussion substitute in Danny Batth.

With results elsewhere already in, relegation had already been confirmed before the final whistle, but several hundred Blues supporters still invaded the pitch at full-time.

Brady, Rooney and… Birmingham relegation

As new investors Tom Wagner and seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady took in the plaudits on their first visit to Birmingham City last summer, everything finally seemed rosy after years of turmoil in B9.

A last-minute penalty had just beaten promotion hopefuls Leeds in the second of what would be a five-game unbeaten streak to start the season. After 10 games, Birmingham sat fifth following a commanding 3-1 win over local rivals West Brom, in front of their largest home crowd since before the pandemic.

Dilapidated areas of St Andrew’s, left in such disrepair that whole stands had been shut the previous season, were back open – and gleaming. The broken old showers in the home dressing room were finally fixed. The players’ tunnel had been decorated with inspirational quotes and pictures. Finally, this house felt like home again.

“We are not here for a short period of time, we are here for the long haul,” said Wagner, the new club chairman, following that first home win of the season. “All of our decisions are focused on what’s best for the club in the long term.”

Football is never simple. Good times rarely last too long, and words are easy. But even with the unwanted helping of deja vu, that quote would come back to haunt Wagner, Brady and Birmingham quicker than anyone could have imagined.

Read the feature here.

Play-off schedule

Semi-final first legs

Norwich vs Leeds (12pm) – Sunday May 12

West Brom vs Southampton (2.15pm) – Sunday May 12

Semi-final second legs

Leeds vs Norwich (8pm) – Thursday May 16

Southampton vs West Brom (8pm) – Friday May 17


Sunday May 26 (kick-off tbc)

The managers

Birmingham’s Gary Rowett:

To follow…

Norwich’s David Wagner:

To follow…

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