Every dog has its day, but some dogs have rather more days than others. An exclusive group of clubs across Europe’s top leagues have never been relegated, a staggering achievement given the competition at the highest level.
Using teams who have played a minimum of 10 seasons in the top-flight of their current league system, we’ve looked at the teams to have never been relegated.
The clubs in the top seven European leagues who have never been relegated:
No English team has continually played top-flight football without relegation, with Arsenal’s 104-season run in the top division the longest unbroken record.
However, six teams have never been relegated from the Premier League since the top-flight was rebranded ahead of the 1992/92 campaign – Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao
Neither Real Madrid or Barcelona have ever been relegated, perhaps no surprise given the domestic dominance of Spanish football’s leading superpowers. The two have won a combined 62 La Liga titles and 19 Champions League trophies, with the duo often regarded as world football’s leading clubs.
There is, however, a third entrant from Spain in Athletic Bilbao. The eight-time champions have incredibly never been relegated, despite a 110-year transfer policy that restricts the club’s recruitment to players born or raised in the Basque Country. Given the Basque Country has a population of around just 2.2m people, it’s an astonishing feat.
Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, FC Augsburg, Hoffenheim
Bayern Munich have never been relegated from the Bundesliga since earning promotion into the division ahead of the 1965/66 season. However, the Bavarians were relegated from top tier regional football a decade earlier, dropping from the Oberliga Süd to the 2. Oberliga Süd.
Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen were also relegated from a top-tier league prior to the establishment of the Bundesliga, but have been ever-presents since entry into the division.
Hoffenheim or FC Augsburg have never been relegated from the Bundesliga, but have been top-division teams for a shorter period time after arriving in the top league in 2008 and 2011 respectively.
Inter Milan, Sassuolo
Inter Milan are the only Italian team to have never been relegated from the top division of Italian football and to have competed in the top tier in every season since their debut in 1909.
Inter’s 19 league titles are the second-most in Italian football history behind Juventus, though the latter were relegated to the second tier after their involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
AC Milan, who have also won 19 league titles, were twice relegated in the early eighties, the first of which was a result of the Totonero match-fixing scandal.
Sassuolo have not been relegated from the top division since being promoted to Serie A in 2013.
Paris Saint-Germain were formed in 1970 after a merger between Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. The new club won promotion to Ligue 1 during its inaugural season and has remained there ever since, going on to become France’s most successful side.
PSG have now won a record 11 league titles, nine of which have come since the club’s Qatari-backed takeover in 2011.
Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, FC Utrecht
Since the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands in 1954/55, the ‘Big Three’ of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord have failed to win the top-flight title in just seven seasons.
None of that trio have ever been relegated from the Eredivisie, with 60 combined titles won.
FC Utrecht have also never been relegated since being formed in 1970, following a merger between VV DOS, USV Elinkwijk and Velox.
Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Benfica
Portugal is similarly dominated by a ‘Big Three’, with Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica winning all but two of the Portuguese top-flight championships since the league’s formation in 1934.
Only Belenenses (1946) and Boavista (2001) have ever broken their dominance of the division.