Premier League football

Three times Championship relegation was actually a good thing

Sometimes getting relegated is the best thing to happen to a club. When they’re going nowhere, treading water, always waiting for three precious points and never able to string two wins on the bounce, relegation can be the spark for a team to rise anew.

Like proverbial phoenixes, several teams have experienced this and enjoyed the springboard effect relegation offers.


So which clubs offered inspiration and bucked the odds by making a speedy return to better times? Here are three that did just that:

Manchester City (1998)

Everyone remembers that game. The day City bounced back from the brink of the 1999 Division One playoff loss to Gillingham with two late goals sparking a wide-eyed Kevin Horlock and a mazy Nicky Weaver victory lap. It could have been so different. Had they lost that game and it would have meant another season in the third tier of English football and the prospect of spending significant time in the football wilderness.

They didn’t and recorded back-to-back promotions to the Premier League. Fast forward ten years, a new stadium, Middle Eastern owners and they found themselves on top of the pile, eyeing Europe’s top prizes.

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Southampton (2009)

In April 2009 Southampton were relegated from the Championship amid terrible finances and a ten-point penalty imposed for the following season. While they failed to make it back up in their first season, it did allow them to reset their finances, reduce wage bills and plan for the future.

Back-to-back promotions in 2011 and 2012 returned them to the Premier League and after a quick managerial change that brought in Mauricio Pochettino and investment in their youth programme, Southampton have since enjoyed relatively stable finances and a successful spell in the top flight.

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Norwich (2009)

While Southampton were being relegated to the third tier of English football, Norwich were one of the teams to join them after three years of decline. Unlike Southampton though, they managed to bounce straight back up. After losing their first game of the season in the third tier 7-1 to Colchester, they promptly signed up then Colchester Manager Paul Lambert and were quickly promoted the following May.

In the very next season, they managed another promotion and returned to the Premier League. Ever since, whilst being a sort of yoyo club, they have enjoyed both healthy finances and regular excursions back to the top flight and are set for another Premier League campaign next season.

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The Leicester Effect

When Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016 it strengthened the belief that there are always better times ahead.

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So for those looking at the Championship’s struggling clubs there’s plenty of previous to suggest the odds of them making a quick return aren’t so dreary as they might initially seem.

The flip side of relegation, of course, is also known as ‘doing a Swansea’. In 1981 they slipped out of the top flight and suffered two further relegations in as many seasons to drop to the lowest tier of the football league and almost cease to exist. So if your team is looking set for relegation then try to allay those fears of repeating Swansea’s feat. A quick return isn’t unlikely.

Read more – Iconic Duos: Mahrez and Vardy inspire Premier League fairytale

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