LONDON - Burnley returned to the top flight of English football on Monday with a 1-0 defeat of Sheffield United in the promotion playoff final at Wembley. Wade Elliott curled in the winning goal after 13 minutes and the Lancashire club, who were relegated from the old first division in 1976, were the better side throughout. PHOTOS: Playoff finals picture gallery "I think we were worthy winners but my heart goes out to Sheffield United," Burnley manager Owen Coyle told Sky Sports after their 61st match of a season, which included a run to the League Cup semi-final and the last 16 of the FA Cup. "I'm delighted with what we have achieved. It's great adventure to look forward to." Promotion for Burnley, who have operated on one of the smallest budgets in the Championship this season, means an estimated windfall of around 50 million pounds. It also means 7,000 of the club's fans will be watching Premier League football free of charge next season courtesy of a pre-season pledge from chairman Barry Kilby to fans who bought sesson tickets for the current season before August 8 last year. NEWS: Burnley poised to offer free season tickets They join Championship champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City in the Premier League after they took the automatic promotion spots. West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United were all relegated. Burnley, one of the traditional names of English football and founder members of the Football League, almost slipped out of the professional ranks 22 years ago when they needed to win their final game to avoid dropping out of the fourth division. However, their fortunes have gone full circle and they have won many neutral fans this season with their eye-catching style under the impressive management of Coyle. That was evident again on a humid day at Wembley in front of 80,000 fans. Elliott's winner was worthy of the occasion. After a surging run the ball came back to him 25 metres out and he sent a shot arcing beyond the reach of Paddy Kenny. United, who were relegated in bitter circumstances two years ago, hardly created any clear chances and were reduced to 10 men late on when Jamie Ward was sent off for deliberate handball.
25 May 2009
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