It is a sight no football fan wants to see. The dreaded ‘R’ next to your club in the league table.
It is incredibly difficult for fans to prepare themselves for the emotions that they go through when relegation from the Premier League is sealed. Anger, frustration and even relief are just some of the feelings that they’ll succumb to. Pragmatists will say c’est la vie, others will feel like it’s the end of the world.
But is it? Your team will bounce straight back up won’t it?
Lets find out. If you’re of a nervous disposition, look away now!
So what happens when you’re team is relegated. In a picture, this (up to and including 2011/2012):
Busy isn’t it?
In order to make sense of the information, I have isolated key elements of it.
The average amount of time that teams, who eventually do make a return to the Premier League, stay out of it is just just over 3 years which equates to 4 seasons. However, if we take out all the occasions when a team has returned the year after relegation (15 times), this increases to 5 seasons away.
There has been 61 relegations since the Premier League started, with a total of 34 different teams having to suffer it. Some have had more practise than others at handling relegation with Crystal Palace leading the way with 4 relegations, closely followed by Birmingham, West Brom, Bolton, Sunderland, Leicester, Forest & Middlesbrough, each with 3 Premier League relegations. Of course an alternative point of view is that these teams have secured more promotions than others, sadly this post isn’t about promotion.
How well do teams bounce back?
The following chart shows how quickly teams have historically bounced back into the Premier League.
So if you are relegated, you are more likely to never return to the top division than you are to return if you take more than 3 years to do it. Clearly, with the amount of money involved in parachute payments, teams that are relegated have a bigger chance of returning to the Premier League within the first 2 years.
There have only been 4 teams that have managed to climb back to the Premier League after dropping more than 1 division having suffered Premier League relegation:
There is much to be admired about the above chart, whether its Norwich or Southamptons swift climb from the 3rd tier to the Premier League in only 2 years having been away for 6 & 7 years respectively, Man City managing the same feat between 1998 & 2000 (only to suffer relegation again the following season) or QPR’s return to the top league after 15 years outside of it.
The teams that have dropped the furthest down the leagues since playing Premier League football are as follows:
The fastest, and furthest, drop is Bradford City although they currently sit in a play off place in League 2 so may be starting on the road back to the Premier League. Or maybe not. My gut feeling is that it may be a good few years before any of these teams return to the Premier League, with a QPR style climb rather than a Norwich leap.
The next chart shows a total of how many seasons teams have spent outside of the Premier League since their first relegation. Teams that were in the Premier League in the 11/12 season aren’t included:
From the above, Middlesbrough, West Ham, Charlton & Birmingham are actually performing the best since their first relegation, spending less than 50% of the time outside of the top flight so far.
The key messages then for relegated teams are that you need to go all out to return to the Premier League in the first 2 years and if you don’t manage it, start preparing for an extended holiday away. Don’t drop into the 3rd tier as you then need to match up with just 9% of teams that have climbed back into the Premier League.
Not forgetting, if you drop into the bottom division you’re doomed.