Race for the Premier League: Leicester City, Ipswich Town & Leeds Utd Championship run-ins compared

Credit: PA

Leeds United, Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Championship EFL title race
The Championship title race is going down to the wire, with shock results providing plenty of twists and turns. Credit: PA

This year's Championship title race has been full of twists and turns, with the lead changing hands repeatedly, and the potential remaining that it will be decided on the final day of the season.

With just over three weeks left to go, Leicester City, Ipswich Town and Leeds United are separated by one point and their fans can all still dream of watching their team lift the title on 4 May.

A second automatic promotion spot to the Premier League is up for grabs too, but for one team, their season-long efforts will not be enough, as they will have to bet on play-off promotion instead.

As it stands Leicester remain in the driving seat - as they have been for much of the season - with a game in hand on surprise contenders Ipswich Town, who are level on points.

Leeds United are a further point behind but can claim to be the form team, boasting an impressive record of only one league defeat in 2024.

So with hundreds of millions of pounds of potential revenue on the line, who will win one of the closest Championship title races England has seen in years?

ITV News' sport correspondents give their takes on the run-ins for Leicester, Ipswich and Leeds.


Expert analysis - Dan Salisbury-Jones, ITV News Central's Sport Correspondent

Manager Enzo Maresca has seen his Leicester City surrender a sizeable lead at the top of the Championship - so can they get over the line? Credit: PA

Leicester City were leading the Championship by such a distance earlier in the season that the run-in felt like it would be irrelevant.

But such is the unpredictability of this league, they've been dragged back into the pack and it's now very much a matter of if, not when, they will win the title.

The Foxes have a mixed set of fixtures to finish the season with games against play-off hopefuls Southampton, West Brom and Preston.

In fact every team they face between now and the end of the season is likely to have something to play for.

Plymouth this weekend and on the final day they face Blackburn Rovers. Both of those clubs are fighting for their survival.

There are off-field issues too with Profit and Sustainability Rules.

Their historic 2016 title win means they budget as a Premier League club and they dare not be away too long.

Leicester's Jamie Vardy has scored 14 goals in the Championship this season. Credit: PA

Who do Leicester City play?

  • Plymouth Argyle (A) - Friday 12 April, 8pm

  • West Brom (H) - Saturday 20 April, 12.30pm

  • Southampton (H) - Tuesday 23 April, 8pm

  • Preston North End (A) - Monday 29 April, 8pm

  • Blackburn Rovers (H) - Saturday 4 May, 12.30pm

Premier League chances

Bookmakers currently have Leicester standing at around 8/15 odds to be champions.

Striker Jamie Vardy was part of the club's memorable 2016 Premier League season and the follow-up FA Cup win in 2021, so knows what it takes to get over the line in a race for silverware.

The title is Leicester's to lose and with a game in hand, both of their rivals would surely swap places with them in a heartbeat.

However, West Brom and Southampton are battling for the play-offs and Blackburn and Plymouth are both still fighting for survival.

The difficulty - and importance - of those fixtures cannot be understated.


Expert analysis - Donovan Blake, ITV News Anglia's Sport Correspondent

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna is looking to lead his team to back-to-back promotions. Credit: PA

If the majority of Ipswich Town fans are honest with themselves, this season has been something of a "pinch me" moment. Their club sitting in the automatic promotion places with just four games to go is nothing short of remarkable, especially with it having been achieved with the majority of players who earned promotion from League One a year ago.

More often than not they’ve defied the odds with late equalisers and winners, when draws and victories looked unlikely. It’s a trait within their squad of which manager Kieran McKenna is unsurprisingly proud.

But their ambition to be on the front foot could be seriously challenged against three sides striving to make the play-offs. Middlesbrough visit Portman Road first, before the Blues visit Hull City and Coventry City. Earning points in all three fixtures would give them a huge chance of entering their final game at home against Huddersfield with automatic promotion still to play for.

Last season, when Sheffield Wednesday were pushing hard for second spot, Ipswich faced Barnsley away knowing the pressure was on to secure all three points. They produced an outstanding performance to win 3-0, having done the same at Peterborough United three days earlier.

The question is: can the Blues do the same and sustain their promotion challenge? They’ve seen both Leeds United and Leicester City drop points in recent weeks when least expected. With that in mind Ipswich’s recent setbacks at big rivals Norwich City and at home to Watford just underlines how tense the run-in will be.

My gut feeling is that staying in the top two could be too great a challenge. But Town supporters can’t think that competing in the play-offs is a failure, given how far the club has gone in such a short space of time.

Mind you, I couldn’t see Ipswich winning those two key away games last season… and look what happened.

Ipswich Town fans at the East Anglian Derby at Carrow Road. Credit: PA

Who do Ipswich Town play?

  • Middlesbrough (H) - Saturday 13 April, 3pm

  • Hull (A) - Saturday 27 April, 8pm

  • Coventry (A) - Tuesday 30 April, 8pm

  • Huddersfield (H) - Saturday 4 May, 12.30pm

Premier League chances

Town's title chances are slimmer than Leicester's, at least with the bookmakers, who have them priced at odds of around 10/3.

None of the fighting clubs were in the Championship last year, but the difference for Ipswich is they were down in League One.

They have the lowest budget of the three clubs and have got this far with spirit, togetherness, passion and a belief they can achieve anything.

Their fixtures are by no means easy, with a trip to promotion chasers Coventry looking key.

So can they defy the odds? The very fact that the title remains a possibility is a huge achievement for the Blues, so fans will not be disappointed if they finish the season with automatic promotion or a spot in the play-offs.

Leeds United expert analysis - Chris Dawkes, ITV News Calendar's Sport Correspondent

Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville, left, has been one of the league's stand-out players. Credit: PA

Leeds fans will tell you they haven’t enjoyed a season as much since Marcelo Bielsa rocked up with his bucket turning Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling into the Yorkshire version of Man United’s holy trinity.

In fact if it hadn’t taken most of the summer for the ownership to change, a manager to arrive and players who’d failed in the Premier League to arrange, or in some cases force, exits then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Leeds would be promoted and Elland Road would be akin to an 18-30 party for the next three weeks.

Just one defeat this calendar year tells you just how ruthless Leeds have been, both at the back and up top. In Crysensio Summerville they have arguably the Championships best player and in Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu, the league’s most reliable centre-back pairing.

But nerves are jangling. The international break in March came at the worst possible time. Players returned looking jaded, dejected (Leeds have four Wales internationals) or simply injured. The team lack the merriness of March, the fluency of February, the joie de vivre of January. The angst of April is upon us and the fans are feeling it too.

If Leeds can rediscover their potent best and Daniel Farke can mastermind a third promotion from the Championship it’ll spark jubilation in the city. Denied the chance to celebrate in 2020 by Covid, it’ll be self inflicted sore throats and aching heads that the fans will have to endure. Bring it on.

Who do Leeds United play?

  • Blackburn (H) - Saturday 13 April, 12.30pm

  • Middlesbrough (A) - Monday 22 April, 8pm

  • QPR (A) - Friday 26 April, 8pm

  • Southampton (H) - Saturday 4 May, 12.30pm

Premier League chances

Leeds United are priced at similar title odds to Ipswich, at 7/2 with the bookmakers.

They may be a point behind the other two challengers, but with the race so tight, one result could change everything.

And on paper, it could be argued their fixtures are the easiest of the three teams - matches against 16th-placed QPR and 18th-placed Blackburn are opportunities to get points on the board.

Mentally, the Leeds players may also be in a better position by chasing the other teams, rather than looking over their shoulders.

They are a point behind, but this season may well have a few more twists left in store.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know