Bolton, QPR try to avoid drop as EPL season ends

While Manchester rivals City and United pursue the Premier

League title on Sunday, Bolton and Queens Park Rangers will be

battling to avoid relegation.

Winning the trophy brings global prestige, but the financial

rewards from surviving in the world’s richest league can be equally

significant to teams at the wrong end of the standings.

Clubs are guaranteed around 40 million pounds ($64.5 million) in

television income and prize money from the league, with the title

winners only receiving about 20 million pounds ($32.2 million)

more.

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn have already been

relegated and Bolton, which is hoping to secure a 12th successive

topflight campaign, is in the third relegation place going into

Sunday’s final match at Stoke.

Bolton is two points behind QPR and the only way the northwest

club can realistically avoid the drop is by winning and hoping its

London rival loses at leader City.

”We know this is the last chance saloon and we have to be ready

to capitalize on that,” Bolton manager Owen Coyle said. ”The lads

are desperate to go out there and win the game … whatever happens

elsewhere is irrelevant unless we win.”

Relegation would come at the end of a season that had started

with Bolton being top of the Premier League after beating QPR on

the opening day.

But Bolton has been blighted by injuries, with key players

Stuart Holden (knee) and Lee Chung-yong (leg) heading a lengthy

casualty list.

Compounding Bolton’s problems, midfielder Fabrice Muamba

suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup game at

Tottenham in March and fought for his life before staging a

remarkable recovery.

”The events that have taken place involving this football club

this year have been beyond belief,” Coyle said. ”You couldn’t

have made this stuff up. But it’s happened, we’ve had to deal with

it and that is what we have done.”

Staying in the Premier League could be the perfect tonic for the

recovering Muamba.

”With everything that happened to Fabrice … it has been great

to see his smile now,” Coyle said. ”How well he is recovering is

a big positive that has come out of everything.”

Helping Bolton’s survival cause, is Manchester City’s potential

need to beat QPR to win the Premier League. City is above

Manchester United going into the final round of matches, but only

due to its superior goal difference.

”City have got a lot riding on this match but so have we,” QPR

defender Anton Ferdinand said. ”This game determines whether

people keep their jobs or not at our club.

”We have got to do our best to make sure we stay in the Premier

League, so that every single person at this club keeps their

job.”

A point will be good enough to keep QPR in the topflight as

manager Mark Hughes returns to City, which fired him in December

2009.

But QPR has only picked up one point away from Loftus Road since

Hughes was hired by owner Tony Fernandes in January.

”We have got to go to Manchester City and try to get a point,

if not all three,” Ferdinand said. ”I have faith in my teammates

and I have faith that we can do that.”