With the business end of the 2018/19 Premier League season on the horizon, those teams flirting with relegation will need to up the ante and haul themselves away from the dreaded drop-zone. The financial implications of slipping down to the second tier can be catastrophic for some clubs, whereas others can re-build and come back up a stronger outfit.
Since the Premier League’s inauguration in 1992, 40 different teams have fallen through the trapdoor and although the vast majority weren’t strong enough to sustain their position, some clubs really should have avoided the cut.
Here, we take a look through some of the best Premier League sides to taste relegation.
Newcastle United 2008/09
After 16 successive seasons in the Premier League, Newcastle United were relegated to the Championship on the last day of the 2008/09 season. The Magpies made an okay start to the campaign, but things quickly went sour after manager Kevin Keegan left his role, citing backroom interference as his main gripe.
In fact, Newcastle hardly stood a chance after they swapped manager on no fewer than five occasions throughout the season. Owner Mike Ashley, who still owns the club to this day, admitted it had been a “catastrophe” for all involved but the squad was rich with talent and should not have been in such dire straits. The likes of Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins and Fabricio Coloccini were all part of the team that season.
Leeds United 2003/04
Three years prior to Leeds United’s relegation from the Premier League, the Whites were jostling with Europe’s best and almost made it to the Champions League final. However, failure to qualify for the tournament next year had massive financial implications on the club. A whole host of talent was shipped out of West Yorkshire to help balance the books and although this worked for the next couple of years, it was third time unlucky for the Whites.
With debts nearing the £100 million mark, there was only one outcome for Leeds United and although they still boasted a squad that should be nearer mid-table, the turmoil behind the scenes proved too much. 25 players left Elland Road that summer, including: Paul Robinson, James Milner, Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Viduka.
Arguably the most entertaining team to suffer relegation as well as being one of the best, Middlesbrough fans will never forget the 1996/97 campaign. It all started so well, with the expensive captures of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Juninho and Emerson all playing their part as Boro were fourth in mid-September.
A 2-0 defeat to Arsenal meant the Teesiders went on a 12 game winless run after their bright start, ultimately paving way for their return to England’s second tier. Things weren’t made any easier when Boro postponed a game against Blackburn Rovers, owing to a large number of players being injured or unwell. This resulted in a three point deduction which would be huge come the end of the season. To make matters worse, Boro lost in both domestic cup finals at the end of the season.
West Ham United 2002/03
Even today, the most hardened Premier League fans will still scratch their heads in disbelief as to how this West Ham United squad suffered relegation. The East Londoners had up to six current/future England players in their ranks and had maverick Paulo Di Canio to rely upon up front.
The season before saw West Ham finish seventh, but their winless run at the start of the 2002/03 campaign made it nigh-on impossible to relinquish their European aspirations. The problems worsened when manager Glenn Roeder was taken ill after a game against Middlesbrough, with Sir Trevor Brooking filling the void and almost keeping the Hammers afloat. A last-day draw to Birmingham City confined West Ham to their first relegation in ten seasons.
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