ROYALS DESERVE TOP FLIGHT RETURN
Reading are back in the Premier League - four years after they cruelly dropped out of it on the final day of the season.
Brian McDermott's men sealed promotion with two games to spare after beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.
Promotion seals a remarkable turnaround for the Berkshire club, who were second bottom of the npower
Championship four games into the season with just four points.
They were still 11 points off the pace when they lost 1-0 to Hull on January 21 - their last home defeat this season.
But since then they have amassed 46 points from a possible 51, losing just once in 17 games.
It has been a long path back to the big time for McDermott, whose last taste of the top flight came as a centre-forward at Arsenal 30 years ago.
Despite a prolific record for the Gunners' reserves, he failed to make an impression in the first team, scoring 12 goals in four seasons.
His playing career took him from IFK Norrkoping, where he was player of the year in Sweden in 1984, to hometown club Slough - where he hung up his boots.
He then had short managerial spells at Slough and Woking before joining Reading as chief scout in 2000.
After a successful stewardship of the club's reserves he replaced Brendan Rodgers as manager in December 2009.
In a memorable second half of the season he took the Royals to eighth in the table and to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup - a run which included the scalp of Liverpool at Anfield.
After another run to the last eight of the competition last season Reading suffered league heartbreak - beaten 4-2 by Swansea in the play-off final at Wembley.
But, like Sunderland 14 years ago, they did not suffer as a result of such a big defeat.
The signing of Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss in August was crucial in shoring up a leaky defence after skipper Matt Mills was sold to Leicester for £5million last summer, while 34-year-old striker Jason Roberts has scored six goals since signing from Blackburn in January.
Owner John Madejski, meanwhile, is on the brink of selling the club to Russian tycoon Anton Zingarevich's Thames Sports Investment.
The Auto Trader founder was the driving force behind the £50million all-seater stadium built in 1998 which bears his name and has Madejski bankrolled Reading since buying the club in 1990.
It would be fitting for him to sign off with his beloved Royals in the top flight of English football.
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