31 points and 13 wins were not enough for Derby as they were relegated to the third tier for the first time in 36 years after suffering a dramatic late defeat at Queens Park Rangers.
Luke Amos’ 88th-minute winner for QPR, coupled with Reading’s remarkable 4-4 draw against Swansea, confirmed Wayne Rooney’s beleaguered Rams to the drop to League One. With three games to go means Derby will play in England’s third tier for the first time since 1986 after.
BREAKING: Derby have been relegated to Sky Bet League One ⬇ pic.twitter.com/pAsVeVprJc
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 18, 2022
Their fight for survival, in a campaign crippled by a 21-point deduction, could only have been prolonged if they equalled or bettered Reading’s result.
When Amos coolly slipped the ball past goalkeeper Ryan Allsop, their hopes of staying up had taken a major blow but were not over.
However, Tom McIntyre’s 95th-minute leveller for Reading left the Rams 10 points behind the 21st-placed Royals with three games remaining.
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) April 18, 2022
Even then, Tom Lawrence was sent off for a second yellow card for a foul on Charlie Austin to compound Derby’s misery.
Derby would be 17th in the table and almost as close to the play-off places as the relegation spots if not for the 21-point deduction this season, for entering administration and breaching the EFL’s financial regulations.
Rooney’s future with the Rams is also uncertain, with the 36-year-old linked with the vacant job at Premier League side Burnley. Earlier this season he rejected an approach from boyhood club Everton to speak to them about taking charge at Goodison Park.
Derby relegated. Wayne Rooney and his players deserve credit for even taking it to the 43rd match, after mismanagement on a grand scale off the field. Vital now that Derby secure a takeover and get a club ready for next season in League One
— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) April 18, 2022