Sheffield Wednesday: Relegation play-off for Owls?

Wednesday's Danny Pugh is dejected after the final whistle at Peterborough
Wednesday's Danny Pugh is dejected after the final whistle at Peterborough
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It’s down to another last-day drama for Sheffield Wednesday as their Championship hopes, along with four others, hang in the balance.

But it is possible for there to be an even more dramatic twist to Wednesday’s season and this one really would be much more nerve-wracking than next Saturday lunchtime. A relegation play-off match!

It would need a clutch of results to go a certain way but if Wednesday and Millwall both lose their final games and, in the process, are overhauled by Peterborough and Barnsley, it might come down to a one-off relegation decider.

Such a fixture only happens where two teams level on points also have the same goal difference and have scored the same number of goals and so cannot be separated by conventional means.

Right now, Wednesday and Millwall have identical records - same points (55), same goal difference (minus 10) and same number of goals scored (51).

It’s not the first time it has happened this season. At the end of September, the two clubs had identical records and they were separated in the table on that Saturday night, with Millwall 21st and Wednesday 22nd, on alphabetical order.

Why that doesn’t apply in this current table is that Wednesday are above Millwall because they have played one game more.

Of course, Wednesday can negate everything by beating Middlesbrough at Hillsborough on Saturday lunchtime (12.45). A win guarantees safety. They can even stay up on their current total of 55.

For Wednesday and Millwall (who play their penultimate game tonight) to finish with identical records it will require their final fixtures to go certain ways.

The simplest equation would be for Millwall - who are at home to Crystal Palace tonight - to lose 1-0 to their South London neighbours and also lose 1-0 in their final game at Derby County on Saturday.

For Wednesday to then end up with an identical record, they would have to lose 2-0 to Middlesbrough.

But in the unlikely event of all three results falling like that and both sides ending on their current total of 55 points, it would still require Peterborough to get a draw at Palace on Saturday and for Barnsley to win at Huddersfield for the Owls and the Lions to be overhauled by both of them.

Both Wednesday and Millwall could still finish on 56 points and the lower-placed one finishing third bottom. However, it is not actually possible for them to have identical goal difference records if they each finish on 56 points. If Millwall only take a point from their two remaining games they would inevitably have a worse goal difference than Wednesday.

A win tonight makes Millwall safe. A win for Palace and they’re secure in the Play-offs but a draw or a defeat and they would then need something against Peterborough.