Needing to match or better Hull City's result against Southampton,
Sunderland were relegated by an 88th minute Bournemouth strike as on Humberside, Tigers'
goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic saved a penalty to claim a point for
Marco Silva's side to open an insurmountable gap and see David Moyes' side down.
That's that then. In the end it was a blessed relief to get it over
with. Relegated before May Day and in front of our home supporters to at least
save the indignity of being waved goodbye by a crowd elsewhere. Few in English
football will miss much about Sunderland, except perhaps our impressive fan base. Few in Sunderland will miss much about the Premier League perhaps. It really hasn't been much fun.
A decade in the top-tier - a division which hasn't been up to much for Sunderland supporters in truth - is behind us and a new dawn is beckoned as recriminations and wound-licking look set to continue for a few more weeks with four games still to play. With a win ratio of around 25% at home this past few years, there's been precious little Premier League cheer on Wearside.
The club which has lingered in the bottom three for years, not arsing
itself to bother with the trouble of competing in the EPL until the final few weeks of each season has finally used up its final life. Scandal and continued headline-making mismanagement have characterised the Ellis Short era and barely an eyebrow has been raised nationally as Sunderland drop to the second-tier.
2016-17 relegation is Sunderland's fourth from the Premier League - more than any other club - and whilst folks will claim this is the 'worst one yet', it probably isn't - through it may feel like it this morning.
The 15-point and 19-point seasons have been surpassed in the points-on-the-board stakes but they were surely grimmer, if braver, affairs than this one. Those campaigns were over by mid-April and David Moyes' Sunderland have managed to limp to the end of the month if nothing else.
Sunderland's first drop from England's shiny new top tier in 1997 was a helluva lot more painful than this one, coming as it did with an impressive 40 points. Though the club was on the 'up' in those days with a brand new stadium on the way and a manager with swagger dragging the old fashioned Rokerites into the new millennium. Some good years would follow that drop and the Peter Reid years afterwards have faded the memory of that initial relegation from the Premier League.
Fitting that Sunderland should be confirmed as down in front of a lowest Stadium of Light crowd of the season - one notable feature of this particular drop is the fact it was confirmed at home. Neither the SoL or Roker Park had witnessed a relegation from the Premier League before yesterday.
In 1997, relegation came at Wimbledon on the final day of the season. A goal-to-nil defeat at Selhurst Park, temporary home to the Dons, on May 11th combined with Coventry beating Tottenham to signal the drop back into the second-tier.
The 19-point campaign in which Peter Reid had departed in the October to be replaced by the dire duo of Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill, saw relegation confirmed after a trip to Birmingham City had ended in a 2-0 loss on April 12th.
And the 15-pointers were mathematically destined to exit the Premier League in 2005-6 at home but heavy snow at the Stadium of Light saw the game against Fulham abandoned after just 21 minutes. Caretaker boss Kevin Ball, who had taken over from Mick McCarthy, would be on the touchline as Sunderland's fate was sealed a week later at Old Trafford. A goalless draw against Manchester United would seal the Black Cats' fate on 14th April 2006.
Simply, Sunderland's time has come and the great cycle which has plagued the modern-era on Wearside - yo-yo-ing between divisions continues. A worst start ever to a Premier League season is left behind as a reminder of season 2016-17 as well as one of the longest ever goalless runs the division has seen. Too big for the second-tier but too skint to maintain a top division spell any longer, we go back whence we came.