London (AFP) – Brighton and Hove Albion saw their 34-year wait for a return to the top flight of English football end with promotion to the Premier League on Monday.
Championship leaders Brighton beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 and their promotion was confirmed when Huddersfield could only manage a 1-1 draw at Derby in the day’s late kick-off.
Huddersfield had to win to delay Brighton’s celebrations but their result left the Seagulls 13 points clear of Reading, now in third place, with only a maximum of nine points available to the Berkshire club from their three remaining league games this season.
Glenn Murray opened the scoring for Brighton eight minutes before half-time in front of their own fans at the Amex Stadium.
England Under-21 international Solly March made it 2-0 for Chris Hughton’s men and a goal from Wigan substitute Nick Powell came too late to change the result.
South coast club Brighton are on course to go up as champions, with second-placed Newcastle’s 3-1 loss away to Ipswich on Monday leaving the Seagulls seven points clear at the summit.
Brighton have not played in English football’s top flight since their relegation from the old First Division in 1983 after a season where they also reached the FA Cup final only to lose to Manchester United in a Wembley replay.
Recent seasons have seen Brighton come agonisingly close to going up, with the Seagulls losing play-off semi-finalists in three of the past four campaigns and denied automatic promotion last term on goal difference alone.
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