When are the play-offs, who could Sunderland face and how likely is automatic promotion after Portsmouth draw?

Sunderland look destined for the League One play-offs following Saturday's 1-1 draw with Portsmouth - but what can the Black Cats expect between now and the end of the season?

By Joe Nicholson
Sunday, 28 April, 2019, 15:57
Sunderland and Portsmouth could both be involved in the League One play-offs this season.

While it remains mathematically possible Jack Ross' side could still finish in the automatic promotion places, the Wearsiders are now relying on an unlikely set of results to finish in the top two.

That would mean the unpredictability of the play-offs - and we've got you covered if that's what it come to.

Here's a brief guide of how the format will work, the key rules and important information you need to know ahead of the season finale.

What must happen for Sunderland to finish in the top two?

First of all it's still mathematically possible that Sunderland could finish in the automatic promotion places this season.

The Black Cats must win their remaining two fixtures against Fleetwood and Southend to stand any chance of avoiding the play-offs, and hope two of the sides above them slip up.

Sunderland would need Portsmouth to drop points in one of their remaining games (against Peterborough and Accrington Stanley) and require Barnsley to lose at Bristol Rovers, as well as an eight-goal swing between them and the Tykes.

Jack Ross' side could also mathematically catch league leaders Luton but would need the Hatters to lose against Oxford and an 11-goal swing.

Highly unlikely, we know.

When are the play-offs?

The EFL have confirmed the dates for the League One play-offs, which are as follows:

Match A

1st Leg - Saturday May 11, 2019, 7.45pm KO

2nd Leg - Thursday May 16, 7.45pm KO

Match B

1st Leg - Sunday May 12, 12.15pm KO

2nd Leg - Friday May 17, 7.45pm KO

Match A and B will be decided after the teams contesting the play-offs are confirmed.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As usual, the side which finishes third will face the side which finishes sixth.

The side which finishes highest will play the second leg at home.

After that, the play-off final will take place at Wembley at 3pm on Sunday, May 26.

Which sides are likely to be involved?

As it stands, Charlton are the only side who will definitely compete in this season's play-offs, yet the Addicks could still rise from fifth to third if they beat Rochdale on the final day, depending on Portsmouth and Sunderland's results.

Doncaster, who sit sixth, will secure the final play-off spot if Peterborough lose to Portsmouth on Tuesday night, while Donny could seal the deal themselves if they beat Coventry next weekend.

Portsmouth and Sunderland currently occupy third and fourth place respectively and won't be able to catch Luton or Barnsley ahead of them if the top two win their final games next weekend.

As it stands, Portsmouth would face Doncaster and Sunderland would take on Charlton in the play-offs.

Are the play-offs on TV?

Yes. Sky Sports will broadcast every play-off match, including the Championship, League One and League Two.

When will ticket details be announced?

Ticket details will be made available by the club once the fixtures have been confirmed by the EFL following next weekend's games.

Do away goals count during the two-legged semi-finals?

No. the away goals rule do not apply.

If the two sides are level after the two legs, extra time and penalties will be played in both the semi-finals and final.

Does the fourth substitute rule apply if the game goes to extra-time?

Yes. Just like in the Checkatrade Trophy final, both teams will have the option to make a fourth substitute if the game goes to extra-time in the semi-final or final.

That may seem a long way off just yet, mind.