Survival Sunday is a term used to refer to final day coverage of the Premier League in England. The phrase is primarily used by Sky Sports, when relegation places are still to be decided, and is used on all the adverts for the end of season football coverage, a day when all the week's ten matches are scheduled for the same window of time.
The Fox Sports cable group in the United States also used the branding for the same coverage in 2012, when nine of that day's matches were carried across Fox's cable networks (including those that are not normally devoted to mainstream sports, let alone sports at all), with the exception of the Manchester City v. Queens Park Rangers, which was shown on rival network ESPN (Manchester City would win the title in stoppage time in that match). Current U.S. EPL rightsholder NBC Sports has continued the practice under the branding Championship Sunday. The phrase has since been used by other media to refer to the final matches.
On the final day of the 2004-05 FA Premier League, none of the three sides to be relegated had been decided. Norwich City, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion were all separated by just a couple of points going into the final match. It was the first time since the establishment of the Premier League in 1992 that no team was assured of relegation going into the final matchday, and the closest dogfight in the top flight since 1927-28, when 11 teams were separated by a total of two points going into the final matchday, in an era when a win was worth two points instead of today's three. West Brom, who started bottom, needed to beat Portsmouth at The Hawthorns and they won 2-0 thanks to goals from Geoff Horsfield and Kieran Richardson meaning Baggies fans were having to nervously wait for other results. Norwich, who started in pole position, were thumped 6-0 at Fulham and were relegated following a dreadful display. Southampton meanwhile hosted Manchester United and looked like staying up after a John O'Shea own goal but the Irishman set up Darren Fletcher to equalize before Ruud van Nistelrooy headed home to send Harry Redknapp's side down. In the other game Crystal Palace travelled to local rivals Charlton Athletic and after Bryan Hughes gave the Addicks a half time lead, Dougie Freedman equalized within two minutes of coming on as a substitute before winning a penalty which top scorer Andy Johnson converted meaning the Eagles looked like staying up but Jerome Thomas's free kick was headed home by Jonathan Fortune, the game finished 2-2 meaning Iain Dowie's side were relegated. That meant West Brom who started the day bottom became the first team to be bottom at Christmas and stay up, this resulted in the Baggies fans invading The Hawthorns pitch, Portsmouth fans joined in as their local rivals Southampton were relegated, Albion also stayed up with the lowest ever points tally in the Premier League for a surviving team with 34.
On the final day of the 2007-08 Premier League season, Derby County had long-since been relegated in bottom place after experiencing the worst season in Premier League history (the Rams only won a single game all season, going an astonishing 1-8-29), but the other two relegation spots were still yet to be filled, and four teams could go down: Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and Reading. Fulham were level on points with Reading but had slightly a better goal difference. Matches kicked off at 16:00 GMT. In the end Birmingham City went down by a point to Fulham despite having a better goal difference to Fulham and despite winning 4–1 against Blackburn Rovers. Reading beat Derby County 4–0 at Pride Park but still went down on goal difference by 3 goals to Fulham who beat Portsmouth 1–0 at Fratton Park to stay up before Bolton Wanderers equalised in the 92nd minute against Chelsea to confirm their Premier League status.
On the final day of the 2008-09 Premier League season, two teams from four would go down (West Brom were already relegated): Hull City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United & Sunderland. The matches were played on 24 May 2009 at 16:00 GMT. The four teams were separated by four points before kick-off. At 18:00 GMT Middlesbrough & Newcastle United were relegated despite having a better goal difference than Hull City. All four teams lost on the final day: Hull 1–0 to Manchester United, Middlesbrough 2–1 to West Ham, Newcastle 1–0 to Aston Villa and Sunderland 3–2 to Chelsea.
On the last day of the 2010-11 season, five teams--Wolves, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Blackpool and Wigan--battled to avoid the two open relegation spots (West Ham were already assured of relegation). All five teams were separated by one point, marking the first time since 1995-96 that five teams had entered the season's final day in danger of relegation, and the first time ever that five teams facing the drop were separated by one point going into the final matchday.
After 37 matches, Blackburn and Wolves were each on 40 points, with Blackburn having the edge on goal difference (-14 to -19). The other three sides were on 39, separated only by goal difference (Birmingham City -20, Blackpool -21, Wigan -22).
Wolves hosted Blackburn; both sides entered the match knowing that if they won, they were assured of staying up. The other teams facing relegation played away to teams whose motivation for a peak performance was arguably limited. Birmingham were at fifth-placed Tottenham. While Spurs could secure a Europa League place with a win, manager Harry Redknapp suggested prior to the match that he would rather avoid the fixture congestion that comes with that competition. On the other hand, Spurs entered the final matchday top of the Premier League Fair Play table, which would have given them a Europa League berth regardless of their result. However, if they had entered by that method, they would start their European campaign in the first qualifying round on 30 June, giving them an incentive to win. Blackpool were at champions Manchester United, who would face Barcelona in the Champions League final the following Saturday. In the remaining match, Wigan played at mid-table Stoke City. All games except Wolves v Blackburn were shown live on the Sky Sports channels.
The day proved almost as dramatic as the 2004-05 dogfight.
At Molineux, Blackburn took a 3-0 lead into the halftime break. At the same time, two of the other key matches--Stoke-Wigan and Spurs-Birmingham--were both scoreless, and Blackpool were level 1-1 at Old Trafford.
At that moment, Wolves and Wigan were in the drop zone.
The second half of all matches saw many twists and turns, with changes in the virtual table occurring several times. First, in the 49th minute at White Hart Lane, Roman Pavlyuchenko scored to give Spurs a 1-0 lead, sending Birmingham into the drop zone. Then, in the 57th minute at Old Trafford, Gary Taylor-Fletcher gave Blackpool a stunning 2-1 lead against a United team that had dropped only two points at home all season--but five minutes later, Anderson equalised.
In the 73rd minute at Molineux, Jamie O'Hara pulled back one goal for Wolves, although at that moment they were still in the drop zone. Then, in the 74th minute, Blackpool suffered a shattering turn of fortune when Ian Evatt deflected a United cross into his own goal, putting Blackpool into the drop zone and taking Wolves out of it.
The next turn of fortune came in the 78th minute at Britannia Stadium, where Hugo Rodallega scored for Wigan to give them a cushion of safety, and ultimately a 1-0 win. One minute later at White Hart Lane, Craig Gardner equalised for Birmingham, which took Birmingham out of the drop zone at Wolves' expense. In the meantime, Michael Owen sealed the Seasiders' fate with a goal for United in the 81st minute, giving them a 4-2 lead. Although the Old Trafford crowd sincerely applauded Blackpool post-match, it was scant consolation for their supporters.
Wolves would exit the drop zone in the 87th minute, when Stephen Hunt pulled back a second goal against Blackburn, narrowing the deficit to 2-3 (which proved to be the final score). At that moment, they would have stayed up on goals scored over Birmingham. Finally, in stoppage time, Pavlyuchenko scored his second goal to give Spurs a 2-1 victory and seal Birmingham's fate. When word came of Pavlyuchenko's second goal, both sets of fans at Molineux celebrated, first by singing songs in the stands and then storming the pitch after the match.
In the end, Birmingham and Blackpool joined West Ham in the Championship in 2011-12.
On the final day of the 2014-15 season, two teams: Newcastle United and Hull City, both battled to avoid the final relegation place available (Burnley and Queens Park Rangers were relegated two weeks prior). Hull hosted Manchester United at the KC Stadium, and Newcastle hosted West Ham United at St James' Park. On goal difference, Hull had the edge over Newcastle (-18 to -25). Hull needed to win and hope Newcastle lost or drew to West Ham to stand any chance of avoiding relegation. But, it didn't go their way, as Newcastle won 2-0 and Hull drew with Manchester United, meaning that Hull joined Burnley and Queens Park Rangers in the Championship the following season.