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Southampton beat Leeds to seal Prem return

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Published in Soccer
Sunday, 26 May 2024 13:52

Southampton won promotion back to the Premier League on Sunday after beating Leeds United 1-0 in the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium in London, earning an immediate return to England's top tier following relegation in 2023.

Often described as the "richest match in football," promotion means Southmapton are set to receive a windfall of at least 140 million ($178m), according to analysis from Deloitte's Sports Business Group.

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Adam Armstrong was the Southampton match winner, as his first-half goal was enough to see off a Leeds side that struggled to muster a meaningful response. Substitute Daniel James came closest after his shot hit the bar late in the second half.

Southampton will join Leicester City and Ipswich Town in the Premier League next season, the latter being promoted after a 22-year absence from the top flight, while Leicester also returned to the Premier League at the first attempt after relegation last year.

As for Leeds, whose U.S. ownership group contains major-winning golfers Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, the club's playoff woes continued.

This was the sixth time Leeds have failed to go up via the playoffs. Making it even more painful is the fact that Leeds finished third in the regular season -- three points above fourth-place Southampton -- and missed out on automatic promotion after winning only one of their last six games.

"I think we probably didn't play our best game today, but we showed a different side," Southampton defender Jack Stephens said. "A few people have doubted us this season -- can we defend, can we dig in? I think we showed we can."

It was a third win against Leeds this season for Southampton, which has won their meetings home, away and now at Wembley.

Southampton is the team of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and owned by Sport Republic, an investment firm in the sports and entertainment industry fronted by Dragan Solak -- the founder of eastern European telecommunications giant United Group. Solak was at Wembley, but it was not immediately clear if Sunak was.

Information from Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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