The recent downfall of Leicester City in this season’s English football has garnered significant attention. The astonishing victory of the “Foxes” in securing the title back in 2016 has been eclipsed by their even more astonishing relegation to the Championship for the upcoming year, following a disastrous campaign that saw them finish below the relegation threshold.
Upon reflection, it becomes evident that the 7-year gap between Leicester’s triumphant championship win and their subsequent relegation marks a considerable period, especially when compared to other champions who faced relegation far sooner after their victorious seasons. Here’s a rundown of those teams:
Over a span of 7 years:
This group includes teams similar to Leicester’s situation. West Bromwich Albion, champions of England in 1920, suffered relegation in 1927. Another notable instance is Newcastle United (1927-1934). Similarly, within 7 years of their respective title victories, Sheffield Wednesday (1930-1937), Liverpool (1947-1954), Chelsea (1955-1962), and Manchester United (1967-1974) experienced relegation.
Over a span of 6 years:
Wolverhampton Wanderers, who clinched an impressive 3 titles during the 1950s—marking their only championships in history—saw their last title win in 1959 followed by relegation in 1965. A parallel situation occurred with Aston Villa, winners in 1981 and relegated in 1987. Notably, “the Villans” managed to secure the Football League Cup during this period.
Over a span of 5 years:
This bracket highlights the final title win of Derby County. The “Rams,” achieving championship status even after the “Brian Clough era,” secured their title in 1975 but experienced relegation a mere 5 years later. Regrettably, they failed to recapture their previous glory and, for the ensuing 40 years, found themselves yo-yoing between divisions.
Over a span of 4 years:
In the relatively more contemporary era of the Premier League, Blackburn Rovers, who sensationally claimed the championship title in 1995 with the legendary Alan Shearer among their ranks, faced relegation just 4 years later in 1999 due to financial and performance challenges stemming from the departure of their chairman.
Over a span of 3 years:
The unique entry in this category is Liverpool. Although there are few living witnesses to the “Reds'” 20th-century struggles, their story unfolds as they secured the title in 1901, only to be relegated in 1904—marking the second of three relegations in the club’s history.
Over a span of 2 years:
Two clubs stand out as notable examples of underachievement within this timeframe. In the late 1920s, Everton boasted Dixie Dean, heralded as England’s greatest striker of all time. His incredible performance in the 1927/28 season, netting 60 goals in 39 matches, guided “the Toffees” to victory, but they suffered relegation in 1930. Ipswich Town witnessed a similar narrative. Guided by Sir Alf Ramsey, “the Tractor Boys” became champions in their debut year following promotion to the top flight in 1961/62, yet found themselves relegated a mere 2 years later.
In a span of just 1 year:
In a twist of fate, the champions turned relegation candidates in the span of a year was none other than Manchester City. Though the current “Citizens” seem unassailable, the parallels with the 1937/38 season appear elusive. Back then, City, fresh off their championship win, endured a harrowing season, culminating in relegation at the campaign’s end.