April 29, 2007 / 2:38 PM / 13 years ago

Birmingham and Sunderland promoted

LONDON (Reuters) - Sunderland and Birmingham City were assured automatic promotion to the English Premier League after one season away on Sunday after third-placed Derby County lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace.

Birmingham City, 2-0 winners over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday top the standings on 86 points and with one game remaining they cannot be caught by third-placed Derby, who with 81 points have to settle for a playoff place.

Sunderland, who beat Burnley 3-2 on Friday to reach 85 points, also go up after Roy Keane, in his first managerial job, turned round their fortunes after a terrible start to the season.

Sunderland were relegated last season with just 15 points having gone up as champions the previous season. Birmingham also went down last season after four years in the top flight.

The championship honours will be decided next Sunday when Birmingham visit Preston North End and Sunderland travel to relegated Luton Town.

The other three playoff places are still up for grabs with West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton currently filling them but with Stoke, Preston and Colchester also still in the hunt.

Mid-table Palace took the lead against Derby after 29 minutes with a nicely-slotted finish by Clinton Morrison and secured the win through Mark Kennedy’s shot after a sharp counter-attack in the 67th minute.

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