Promotion-bound QPR move nine points clear

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LONDON – Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers took another huge step towards promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 win over struggling Sheffield United on Monday.
Two Wayne Routledge goals either side of Alejandro Faurlin’s strike secured another victory for Neil Warnock’s side who are now nine points clear of Norwich at the top of the Championship with Cardiff 13 points behind the leaders in third.
And if results elsewhere go their way QPR could be celebrating promotion at Barnsley in eight days, with five games to spare, ensuring their fans can rub shoulders with west London neighbours Chelsea for the first time in 15 years next season. By contrast, Sheffield United are staring at life in League One just four years after relegation from the top flight under Warnock.
The hosts looked capable of scoring every time they went forward, and made the breakthrough just before the half-hour when Faurlin’s chip found Heidar Helguson and his cross was swept in by Routledge from eight yards out. United had their chances, only for Shaun Derry to hack Daniel Bogdanovic’s effort off the goal-line and Stephen Quinn to scuff a close-range shot wide.
However, they were down and out six minutes into the second half when Faurlin smashed into the net from the edge of the box with Routledge adding a third in the 66th minute. League agree reduced broadcasting deal: The English Football League have signed a new three-year broadcasting deal with Sky Sports worth £195million (221 million euro) – a £69million (78 million euro) drop on the current deal.
The new contract, which is effective from the start of the 2012/13 season, marks a drop from the current £264 million deal. Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: “This has been a challenging climate in which to negotiate television rights, given the state of the economy and the lack of competitive tension in the sports broadcasting market.
“I am confident that our clubs will take heart from seeing such a significant ongoing investment in their competitions, despite a reduced level of broadcasting income, as it provides financial certainty in uncertain times.”
The league believe the fact they have agreed the deal so far in advance will help clubs plan accordingly – and that more than four-fifths of all player contracts in the three divisions will have expired by the time the next deal starts.
It also compares favourably with the £109.5million deal from 2006-09.
Under the new agreement Sky Sports will broadcast 75 matches from across the Football League, the play-offs including all three finals, 15 matches from the League Cup including both legs of each semi-final and the final.