Victory for fourth-bottom Sunderland at Manchester United ensured Fulham and Cardiff's respective defeats at Stoke City and Newcastle United proved extremely costly.
When Felix Magath was appointed as Rene Meulensteen's replacement in February, the wily German arrived at Craven Cottage as a specialist in avoiding relegation.
Yet the 60-year-old has now suffered demotion for the first time in his managerial career, after his Fulham side suffered a painful 4-1 defeat at Stoke.
Fulham have spent 13 successive seasons in the top flight, but were unable to pull off a great escape on this occasion.
To add insult to injury, their fate was sealed by a Stoke side managed by former Fulham boss Mark Hughes.
Magath stated that it would be his finest hour if he could keep Fulham in the Premier League, but the visitors to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday were second best from start to finish.
Peter Odemwingie put Hughes' men in front before half-time and further goals from Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jon Walters were no more than the hosts deserved.
Kieran Richardson did reply for Fulham prior to Walters' strike, but it was too little, too late for a club who twice changed managers this season under the ownership of Shahid Khan.
Martin Jol was sacked in December on the back of five consecutive league defeats, which left the club 18th in the table, and Meulensteen lasted only two months before being relieved of his duties.
Magath did oversee an upturn in fortunes but Stoke ultimately put the final nail in Fulham's coffin.
Cardiff's immediate return to the second tier of English football rounds off a season marred by off-field controversy.
The club from the Welsh capital made an encouraging start to their first campaign in the top tier for 51 years, claiming a shock 3-2 win over Manchester City in their opening home game.
However, Cardiff soon found positive results difficult to come by and Malky Mackay was sacked by owner Vincent Tan in late December, much to the disgust of many supporters, with the club one point above the relegation zone.
Mackay was replaced by former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but, although Cardiff did secure a 2-1 FA Cup win at Newcastle in the Norwegian's first game in charge, their league form failed to improve.
Indeed, Cardiff have secured just three top-flight wins under Solskjaer, and their failings were encapsulated at St James' Park on Saturday as a Newcastle team in poor form cruised to a comfortable 3-0 triumph without exerting too much effort.
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