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Leeds United seal Premier League return after 16-year wait

Leeds have been promoted to the English Premier League after a 16-year absence.

Leeds United celebrate Source: Getty

Second-placed West Brom's 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield means second-tier Championship leaders Leeds are assured of a top-two finish with two games remaining.

Leeds moved on to 87 points on Thursday following their 1-0 home win against Barnsley. West Brom, who remain on 82 points, have one game remaining and will drop out of the automatic promotion places if Brentford avoid defeat at Stoke on Saturday.

It has been a long and often 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.

Leeds' debts had spiralled to over STG100 million ($180 million) in 2003 under former chairman Peter Ridsdale and there were fears the club could go out of business.

They were forced to sell all their players including Kewell and Viduka and other assets, including Elland Road Stadium and their Thorp Arch academy, and have since stumbled from crisis to crisis under a succession of different owners.

Leeds went into administration in 2007 under Ken Bates and fared little better under subsequent owners GFH Capital before the arrival of controversial Italian Massimo Cellino.

During Cellino's chaotic three-year ownership Leeds had seven different managers, but current owner Andrea Radrizzani bought a 50 per cent stake in Leeds in January 2017 to signal the dawning of a new era.

Radrizzani purchased the remaining 50 per cent from Cellino the following May and Leeds made a bold statement of intent by appointing Marcelo Bielsa in the summer of 2018.

It was an expensive gamble, but Bielsa proved an instant hit, transforming the same squad he inherited into genuine promotion challengers in his first season.