Gary Lineker and Micah Richards give 'devastating' Leeds United promotion verdict amid Ipswich Town claim

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Leeds United need their Championship promotion rivals to drop points or it'll be the playoffs for Daniel Farke's men.

Gary Lineker has thanked Queens Park Rangers for handing them a return to the Premier League after beating Leeds United 4-0 on Friday - a result which might consign the Whites to playoff drama.

Leeds suffered a crushing blow in their automatic promotion hopes after falling to their heaviest defeat of the season at Loftus Road. Two goals either side of half-time stopped Daniel Farke’s side from pulling four points clear of Ipswich Town, with the dropped points also confirming the Foxes’ instant return to the top flight.

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Having gained 17 points on Leicester before the March international break, Leeds have fallen off a cliff and are now outsiders to finish in the top two, with Ipswich to climb back into second if they take anything from Coventry City this evening. Lineker feels sympathy for United supporters but believes they look set for the chaos of playoff football.

“It wasn’t long ago Micah, you were singing ‘Leeds, Leeds, Leeds’ at me and giving me grief because Leicester had a slight blip,” Lineker told The Rest Is Football. “I feel a bit for Leeds fans because I know what it’s been like for Leicester. 

“You have to get back in the Premier League and Ipswich are now favourites to do that. Leeds look like they may drift into the playoffs - as Micah’s head slumps to the ground. A big thank you to QPR for a very enjoyable experience on Friday night.”

Leeds will be watching with bated breath this evening as Ipswich go to Coventry, knowing the Tractor Boys need to drop points if there is any real chance of a top-two finish. The automatic promotion race will go down to the final day but tonight’s result will decide who is in the driving seat come Saturday.

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Farke’s side look most likely to drop out of the automatic places and have bad memories of the playoffs, having failed to win any from five attempts across the Championship and League One. Those five exits have delivered plenty of trauma and Richards admits it would be ‘devastating’ to miss out on a Premier League return.

“We don’t want the playoffs with Leeds,” the former Manchester City and Aston Villa full-back added. “Anything can happen in the playoffs. It’s devastating. They were so close yet so far.”

Leeds will take some comfort in knowing what Coventry City can do at home despite there being no chance of a late playoff push, having been beaten at the CBS Arena last month. QPR also showed how teams can throw up a surprise performance when the pressure is off.

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Both automatic promotion hopefuls will be at home on the final day, with Leeds and Ipswich hosting Southampton and Huddersfield Town respectively. Neither visitor has anything to play for, with the Saints already in a playoff place while the Terriers need a 15-goal swing on Plymouth Argyle to climb out of the relegation places.

Should Leeds finish third as is now expected, they will play the sixth-placed team in the playoff semi-finals which is currently West Brom. However, any one them, Norwich City or Hull City could occupy that spot come Saturday evening.