Norwich City won 1-0 at Portsmouth to seal back-to-back promotions and a return to the Premier League after five seasons out of English soccer’s top division.
Simeon Jackson’s 50th minute header last night lifted Norwich to 83 points, guaranteeing the Canaries the second automatic promotion spot behind leader Queens Park Rangers, which has 88. Third-place Cardiff can’t overtake Norwich after losing 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough earlier yesterday.
Norwich was demoted from the Premier League in 2005 and dropped to the third tier in 2009. Following a 7-1 home defeat to Colchester at the start of the 2009-10 season, the Canaries hired their opponent’s coach, former Celtic and Scotland captain Paul Lambert, who oversaw their return to the elite division.
“It’s absolutely incredible what has happened here,” Lambert told Norwich’s website. “Just to stay in the Championship would have been a great achievement but to actually go up beggars belief. It’s a miracle.”
Norwich is the first club since Manchester City in 2000 to secure back-to-back promotions into the top division. Joining the Premier League is worth about 90 million pounds ($149 million) in television rights and other revenue, accountant Deloitte LLP estimates.
Grant Holt has scored more than 20 goals this season and many of Norwich’s vital strikes have come in the closing moments of games. They include Jackson’s stoppage-time winner over Derby County on April 25.
QPR won 2-0 at Watford three days ago to seal top place and a return to the Premier League after 15 years, though it still faces disciplinary action that could derail its promotion.
QPR could face a points deduction if it’s found guilty of breaching rules in the signing of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in 2009. A decision is due by May 6, the day before the last league game at home against Leeds. QPR denies wrongdoing.