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.

Rowett: It’s an exciting time to be at Birmingham, just not today

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Birmingham City interim manager Gary Rowett thanks the fans and players following relegation on the final day of the season

Birmingham’s Gary Rowett:

“It’s a very, very quiet dressing room and you can understand that.

“I’ve just spoken to the players about it; I think you have to dissect the performance and I thought we performed really, really well against an excellent Norwich team. I thought we were pretty comfortable and deservedly won the game.

“Our form over particularly the last four games has been excellent and we’ve been shipping very few goals and we hoped that would be enough today, but it wasn’t. So what you then have to do is be realistic and look at the fact you don’t get relegated on eight games, you get relegated on 46 games.

“The challenge with this club is that it’s been in this position too many times and it’s a disappointing day.

“The fans were absolutely incredible and the noise going out there was absolutely amazing, so I thank them for that. I thought they did everything they possibly could.

“As a team, overall, you have to look at little periods of the season and ask ‘could I have done more?’ There are some really good characters in there, some really good players and I’m disappointed for them.

“For different reasons, some of the situations people can have their opinion on and that’s not for me to sit here and give an opinion on. Nobody anticipated the Tony [Mowbray] situation and it’s hard to think about football when someone’s in that position.

“But when you have that many managers for different reasons, it’s always a little bit difficult as a player and a team to create that continuity.

“The club has got real stability off the pitch, but what I would say – and I’m not just saying it now – is that the owners are really good people and it’s a really exciting time. Not necessarily today, but over the next few years, it’s a very exciting time to be involved in Birmingham City.

“The challenge is making sure the foundations are there on the pitch to excel.”

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.

Wagner: To confirm a play-off place is top class

Norwich’s David Wagner:

“It’s fantastic – we have done a job over 46 games, something which we had as a target since the beginning of the season. To confirm it is top class.

“Everyone knows where we came from last autumn (17th) so it’s an absolutely unbelievable achievement.

“This is what everyone worked so hard for and now we’re part of the most exciting three weeks of the season.

“It’s no problem to say we are the underdogs and they are the favourites.

“But it’s a new competition now and every team has a 25 per cent chance of success.

“I would say I have learned that the opposite counts – momentum does not count as I think we only won two out of our last eight games at Huddersfield, and being favourites does not count.”

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)

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