Leeds United back in the Premier League: Elland Road to host top-flight football for first time in 16 years as Whites seal return to England’s top-flight
Leeds United have finally made it back to the Premier League.
Their return to England’s top-flight after 16 years away was confirmed without the Whites kicking a ball, as West Brom were beaten by Huddersfield on Friday night to assure them of a top-two finish in the Championship.
It has been a long and tortuous road back for Leeds, who were relegated from the Premier League in 2004 amid a spectacular financial meltdown.
The West Yorkshire club have spent 13 seasons in the Championship and three in League One after dropping into the third tier for the first time in their history in 2007.
The three-time First Division champions are now back where many believe they belong, with Marcelo Bielsa masterminding their return to the top level.
Leeds have lit up the Championship this season with Bielsa’s exciting brand of football and few could begrudge them their place back among the elite.
Former Leeds manager Simon Grayson is among those delighted to see the club back in the top flight and praised the job Bielsa has done.
He told talkSPORT: “I think it’s a massive achievement. Something that’s been waiting to happen for a long time. Sixteen years since the Premier League, even up to last night people were anxious and nervous about whether it was going to happen.
“Doing it the Leeds way it could go wrong. It will be a moment of relief for the football supporters and city in general.
“They will just be enjoying it now and nobody else will be having them focus on Derby at the weekend. It’s what they’ve worked so hard for.
“Bielsa’s a demanding coach and the players have worked extremely hard and have been very patient. They will renew some big rivalries next season with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
“It’s a great thing that has happened for the city of Leeds and I think the Premier League will welcome Leeds back there because of the fan base, the rivalries and expectancy levels and everything that goes with Leeds United being part of the Premier League.”
Players past and present rushed to congratulate the club on their promotion, including Liverpool’s James Milner, who started his career at Elland Road.
Nigel Martyn, Vinnie Jones and Aaron Lennon also offered their well-wishes while Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy, who worked under Leeds boss Bielsa at Marseille, tweeted his congratulations.
Leeds’ return to the highest level is somewhat tinged with sadness.
Three Elland Road legends passed away over recent months, Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry and Jack Charlton – who died just last week – all tragically missing out on seeing their beloved club back in the top-flight.
Fans have also been unable to wat
ch the final stages of Leeds’ promotion campaign, as since football returned from its coronavirus suspension last month all matches have been played behind closed doors.
Dozens of fans congregated outside the stadium once their promotion was confirmed to celebrate the special occasion.
Jermaine Beckford will bring you ‘Leeds United: Ups and Downs’ – a special programme looking at the Yorkshire club’s 16 year exile from the Premier League on talkSPORT 2 at 11am on Saturday
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, talkSPORT reports