Fulham have been relegated from the Premier League with five games still to play after being hammered by Watford at Vicarage Road.
The Cottagers needed to avoid defeat to put off their inevitable demotion for another week and were level at half-time, Ryan Babel having equalised after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stunning opener for the Hornets.
However, second-half goals from Will Hughes, Troy Deeney and Kiko Femenia condemned them to an immediate return to the Championship.
Fulham spent more than £100m on 12 new players last summer but the quality has been lacking all season.
Their players looked dejected as the final whistle confirmed they will be playing Championship football alongside Huddersfield next season, making 2 April the earliest date two clubs have been relegated from the Premier League.
Fulham had lost their previous eight Premier League games and, with just two points away from home all season, a visit to high-flying Watford always seemed to be a tall order.
Caretaker manager Scott Parker has overseen five defeats since replacing Claudio Ranieri and now relegation is confirmed, it is clear a significant rebuilding job will be required.
The Cottagers impressed in the Championship last year, coming up through the play-offs, and were tipped by many to make a positive impact in the Premier League.