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Will Leicester City join the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United?

In a league filled with biggies like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal etc, surviving despite success is not a certainty as some found out.

Written by Rohit Mundayur |
August 13, 2016 12:57:47 pm
Leicester City, Leicester, Leicester football, blackburn rovers, blackburn, fulham, manchester united, manchester city, english premier league, epl, leeds united, champions league, ucl, football, football news Despite the league success in 2015/16, Leicester City will still find themselves as relegation battlers when the new season begins. (Source: Reuters)

Leicester City’s coup of the Premier League last season was hailed by many as a hark back to the 1970s and 1980s; a time when a team that had just been promoted from the second tier of the Football League had as good a chance of winning the top tier title as that season’s defending champions.

Only six clubs have won the Premier League so far in its 24-year existence. There have also been many clubs that used to be regulars in the league and even went on to make top-six and top-three finishes before being relegated and never climbing back up the ladder again.Lets take a look at a few of these.

The clubs mentioned in this list have been the in the Premier League for at least seven successive seasons and have been relegated for at least two years. It is because of these two parameters that clubs like QPR, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough or formerly successful English clubs like Nottingham Forest don’t get a mention.

Coventry City
Coventry City was one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992. Even then, they were considered strugglers and their battles were confined to the lower parts of the league table. Their highest Premier League finish came in the 1997-98 season when they finished 11th. Finally, Coventry were relegated in the 2000-2001 season.

Leicester City, Leicester, Leicester City English Premier League, Leicester EPL, English Premier League, EPL, EPL season, EPL title, Champions League, UCL, football, football news, sports, sports news Leicester City need to perform in the Champions League to add to their shock and awe of the Premier League title last season. (Source: Reuters)

ALSO READ | Why Leicester City must enjoy Champions League success to be remembered

The club has been embroiled in financial trouble since then and play in the Football League one, the third tier of English football. Counting their record in the Football League First Division that existed before the Premier League, this was the first time in 34 years that they were relegated from top flight football. Interestingly, only Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton could boast of longer top-flight spells at the time.

Charlton Athletic
Charlton Athletic established themselves in the Premier League following their promotion in 2000-01 season. In the 2003-04 season, they looked to be set for a top-four finish. A late season slack, though, saw them finishing seventh but Charlton were regarded as a team to beat and looked to be able to continue their following seasons in the same vein.

Although the club did achieve mid-table finishes in the following seasons, a dreadful start to the 2006-07 season with two wins in twelve matches culminated in the team’s relegation at the end of the year. Charlton got relegated to the third tier in the 2015-16 season.

Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers kept fluctuating between the Premier League and the second tier between 1995 and 2000. In the 2000-01 season they got promoted to the Premier League. Their record in the top flight was an impressive one as they established themselves as a top-10 side and consistently qualified for the Europa League. The have defeated cubs like Red Star Belgrade and Atletico Madrid in their European ventures and even managed to hold Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw in the Allianz Arena.

From 2010, their consistency in the league started wavering. The 2011-12 season was the one when Manchester City snatched the title from under the noses of cross-town rivals Manchester United with a stoppage time goal from Sergio Aguero. It also turned out to be the last time that Bolton played in the Premier League.

Although the club were seemingly sustaining themselves in the Championship, in 2015 it was revealed that Bolton Wanderers had amassed more than 170 million pounds in debt. Last season, they were rooted to the bottom of the table in the second tier and are set to start the 2016-17 season as a third tier team.

Wimbledon
Wimbledon FC was a football club based in London. Like Coventry City, they were one of the founding members of the Premier League and were consistently at the upper end of the table for much of the 1990’s.

In 1990, a document known as the Taylor Report was released in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster that claimed 96 lives. One of the key points in the report was that every major stadium in the country was to be converted into all-seater stadiums. Wimbledon FC had to move to Selhurst Park on a stadium sharing basis with Crystal Palace until they found property for a new home ground.

This never happened and in 2001, the club decided to shift outside its traditional home of London. Fans got angry and stadium attendances dwindled because of which the club started facing financial problems which finally culminated in their relegation.

The club moved to a new stadium in a small town called Milton Keynes and although they did play the 2003-04 season with the name Wimbledon, they adopted the new name of MK Dons from the start of the 2004 season.

Sheffield Wednesday
One of the oldest football clubs in the world, Sheffield Wednesday played in the inaugural season of the Premier League. They consistently finished in the top-10 of the league throughout the 90’s and were pretty much established as a top division team. Their cup record was even better. In the 1992-93 season they reached both the League Cup and FA Cup finals, both times losing out to Arsenal. It was after the turn of the century that Wednesday’s fortunes dwindled. Managerial instability and financial troubles saw the club’s performances steadily declining. 1999-2000 season turned out to be the last season in the top flight to date for Wednesday.

Portsmouth
Portsmouth’s first appearance in the Premier League came in 2003. They were confined to the lower end of the table for the subsequent three seasons but in 2006, the club was bought by Israeli businessman Alexandre Gaydamak whose funding allowed Portsmouth to nearly revamp the entire squad.

This was the time when the Portsmouth first-team boasted of names like Kevin-Prince Boateng, David James, Jermian Defoe and Sol Campbell. Success soon followed and in the 2007-08 season, Portsmouth finished eighth in the Premier League and won the FA Cup. In the subsequent year, they faced off with some of the top European sides like AC Milan in the Europa League. Harry Redknapp was the manager during this period of success and his departure in 2008 was accompanied with the beginning of financial turmoil within the club.

Just about a year after they had famously held AC Milan to a draw, Portsmouth announced that they had been unable to pay players and staff for three successive months. Administration soon followed because of which nine points were deducted from the club which almost confirmed their relegation.

Portsmouth were forced to sell most of their prominent players and finally in 2010, they got relegated. Since then Portsmouth have been further relegated all the way down to the fourth tier of the English football where they remain to this day.

Fulham
Fulham FC was languishing in Football League 2, the fourth tier of English football until it was bought over by Egyptian millionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed in 1997. Al-Fayed’s financial backing gave Fulham the ability to make some big signings despite their lower league status. In the next five seasons, the club achieved three promotions to enter the Premier League. Between 2003 and 2007, Fulham established themselves as a mid-table team. The highlight for the club during this period would be a victory against cross-town rivals Chelsea, the latter’s only second defeat in more than two years. Roy Hodgson took over as manager for the 2007-08 season in which Fulham was flirting with the relegation zone. Relegation seemed to be the only possible conclusion until and end-of-the-season thriller against Manchester City.

Fulham were trailing 2-0 at half-time but incredibly, made it 3-2 in the second-half. This form was carried over to the next season when Fulham achieved a seventh place finish and qualified for the inaugural Europa League. Their first season in Europe saw them beating teams like Hamburger SV and Juventus on the road to the finals. Fulham were defeated by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the final but their status as a top flight football club was cemented.

Over the years they continued this form and were able to attract big names like Dimitar Berbatov and Clint Dempsey into their teams. In 2013, Fulham’s ownership changed hands and this led to instability at the managerial level. At the end of the 2013-14 season, Fulham’s relegation was confirmed after 13 years in the Premier League.

Leeds United
Not many would remember that Leeds United used to be a name that was taken in the same breath as that of Manchester United and Liverpool at one point. Leeds United participated in the inaugural Premier League season as champions of the last season of the erstwhile Football League First Division. Between 1993 and 1996, Leeds underperformed even coming close to relegation in 1992-93 season. Even then, this period is remembered for the revamping of the club’s youth set-up.

In 1998, David O’Leary was appointed as manager along with assistant and club legend Eddie Gray. Leeds established themselves as a top five team and consistently gained qualification for the Champions League. In Europe, their highest point came in 2000-01 when Leeds were semi-finalists in the Champions League. It was during this time that chairperson Peter Ridsdale took huge loans against the revenue to be generated from the Champions League. But the 2000-01 season turned out to be the club’s last season in Europe and soon, the debts began to bite and Leeds started selling off some of their star players like Rio Ferdinand and Jonathan Woodgate.

A managerial carousel also took place and the instability spilled onto the pitch as Leeds just about avoided relegation in 2003. The club spiralled into further financial peril and were forced to sell off any players of value from the first team or youth squad and finally, they were relegated at the end of the 2003-04 season.

Since then the club has been relegated even further to the third tier and are now a mid-table team in the second tier. Although most of the clubs in this list have fallen from grace due to financial mismanagement, Leeds United’s former glory and their prominence as a Champions League quality team just two seasons before their relegation has made them a textbook example of how not to manage a football club. ‘Doing a Leeds’ became a phrase used to describe financial instability in England for some time after Leeds’ fall.

Blackburn Rovers
Many were comparing Leicester City’s run in the 2015-16 season to that of Blackburn Rovers’ in the 1993-94 season. It may not be entirely accurate to do so as unlike Leicester, Blackburn finished fourth in the inaugural Premier League season and second in 1993-94 before clinching the league title in 1994-95. This success was largely powered by Alan Shearer’s incredible form and the money flowing in from chairman Jack Walker, an English businessman and a lifelong supporter of the club.

Blackburn could not maintain this success and relegation just two seasons after being the champions looked a real possibility. Although this didn’t happen, Blackburn’s time of reckoning came in 1999 when the club was relegated after a draw against that season’s treble winners Manchester United.

The club did return to the Premier League just two seasons later and stayed in the top flight for the next 11 years. During this period, Blackburn never came close to achieving what they did in the 1994-95 season but remained a vital team in the Premier League and consistently reached the semi-finals and the finals of the League Cup and the FA Cup. Their highest league finish in this period came in 2005-06 season under Mark Hughes when they finished sixth and thereby qualified for the Europa League.

In 2010, Indian conglomerate VH Group bought Blackburn. In 2011, despite the club posting losses amounting to billions of pounds, the new owners assured fans their financial support even if it meant backing a Championship side. This became a reality in 2012 when Blackburn Rovers got relegated back to the Championship.

Although they have never been able to emulate the 1995 success, Blackburn’s victory is the subject of one of the most popular trick questions related to the Premier League. ‘Which team other than Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and now Leicester City have won the Premier League? And no, it’s not Liverpool.’

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