Boro fans have a first Tees-Wear derby in four years to look forward to as the Sky Bet Championship takes shape for the 2022/23 season.
North east neighbours Sunderland return to the second tier courtesy of Saturday’s play-off victory over Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley, setting up a first competitive meeting with Boro since the Black Cats’ relegation in 2018.
Our last match against Sunderland was a dramatic 3-3 draw at the Stadium of Light, while the five prior had all ended in wins for the Teessiders.
Alex Neil’s side complete a trio of northern clubs to come up from League One ahead of the new campaign; Wigan Athletic as champions after a two-season spell in the division below, and runners-up Rotherham United back at the first time of asking.
Elsewhere, the third side to be relegated from the Premier League has also been decided after a dramatic final day at both ends of the table. Burnley’s return to this level after a six-year spell in the top flight was confirmed by defeat to Newcastle United at Turf Moor, Leeds United winning at Brentford to leapfrog the Clarets at the last and consign them to the drop.
It means Boro will renew acquaintances with the Lancashire club, who were one of our toughest rivals for promotion in 2015/16 as both clubs ultimately progressed to the Premier League. Our own stay there was short-lived, but Burnley had remained at the top table until now.
Norwich City and Watford are the other two returning faces in the Championship, their fates having been wrapped up in preceding weeks - both clubs having now yo-yoed between the top two divisions in each of the last three seasons.
One place in the 2023/23 Championship line-up is yet to be decided, with Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest each hoping they will instead be Premier League bound after Sunday’s play-off final at Wembley.