To many young football fans the Premier League is all they have known; the concept that the money fuelled top tier of English football hasn’t always existed is a perplexing notion. In 1992, backed by a £305 million investment from BSKYB 22 teams said farewell to the First Division to join this exciting enterprise. Irrevocably, the Premier League has been a success. Yet, a number of teams have since spiralled from these glorified heights and have suffered both financially, and on the pitch. Here, I take a look at where the original 22 teams are now, starting from 20th position of the league’s final standings and working my way up.
Relegated in the Premier League’s inaugural season, former European Cup winners Forest were soon back, clinching promotion just a season after their departure. A cycle of promotions and relegations followed: unfortunately, the once champions of Europe soon found themselves in League One. Back in the Championship under Dougie Freedman, Forest are 15th.
Following relegation in the first Premier League season, player-manager Byran Robson took charge, bringing back a sense of optimism with the signing of Brazilian magician Juninho. Middlesbrough then embarked upon a promotion-relegation merry-go-round.
Now under the management of Aitor Karanka they’re once again pushing for automatic promotion, just one point adrift of table topping Burnley.
Crystal Palace fell from the Premier League in a cruellest of fashions: goal-difference. Much like Middlesbrough, they too joined the merry-go-round. However, after experiencing eight years in the wilderness, Ian Holloway guided The Eagles back to the top-tier of English football in 2013, beating Watford 1-0 in a play-off final.
Now under the care of Alan Pardew Crystal Palace have cemented themselves as Premier League mainstays, and despite their recent run, have a rich reserve of quality.
The Lactics are a prime example of how one can quickly fall from grace; relegated in 1994, they now reside in League One. A tumultuous history followed their exit from the Premier League as financial problems plagued them, with the risk of going into liquidation a constant shadow.
Most recently, the club made the headlines when they considered offering a contract to convicted rapist Ched Evans, eventually deciding to not press forward after a country-wide backlash.
After 27 successive seasons in the top flight of English football, the Saints faced life in the Championship on the back of relegation in 2005. A fight-back ensued as Southampton pushed for promotion for a few seasons, but fell victim to the perils of administration; a 10 point deduction ensured their relegation to League One in 2010.
Nigel Adkins was appointed manager in the 2012 season and his maiden year saw Southampton promoted to The Championship. Back-to-back promotions propelled Southampton to the Premier League, where Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Keoman have ensured progression and have stabilised The Saints’ position in Europe’s top league.
The tantalising prospect on cashing in on Champions League TV rights was the catalyst for their downfall; banking on qualification the club took out loans to finance their pursuit of European glory. When they narrowly missed out in two consecutive seasons, the cash started to dry up and the banks came calling.
Financial meltdown ensued, ultimately causing relegation in 2003/04. Three years later and The Whites faced life in League One. However, two years on and Leeds were back making headlines as they knocked out Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. The very same season, they gained promotion to the Championship. Their recent spell in the second tier has been far from stable, however. The managerial position has essentially replicated a revolving door with eccentric owner Massimo Cellino never too far away from controversy.
On their way to leaving the elite tier of English football in 1995, Ipswich Town were thumped a record 9-0 by Manchester United. The Tractor Boys repeatedly gained promotion, only to be relegated soon after. Facing demotion to League One in 2012, Nick McCarthy was appointed and has injected a degree of solidity at the club – they are now very much in the mix for a play-off spot.
After 34 years in the top flight of English football, and nine in the Premier League, Coventry City bid farewell and joined the Championship. In 2012, they fell further, entering League One. A familiar story then emerged: financial problems. Entering administration and leaving the Richo Arena was the culmination. However, back at the Richo Arena, the club are pressing for promotion to The Championship, sitting 6th in the table.
Two years after the Premier League’s opening season, The Blades were relegated; an absence from the top-flight that would total twelve years. The infamous Neil Warnock took charge when they were lingering at the wrong end of the table. He managed to guide the team through a financial storm, and delivered promotion to the Premier League in 2002/03. One year later and they were back in the Championship. Hefty wage bills and un-paid loans then caused chaos, and in the 2010/11 season the club were relegated to League One. Remaining ever since, they occupy a mediocre 12th place.
Finally, we come to a team that have never been relegated from the Premier League. Permanent fixtures in the league, the club have enjoyed relative success, earning qualification to the Champions League in 2004/05. European action continued as they qualified for the EUFA Cup in the 07/08 and 08/09 seasons. Now under Roberto Martinez, Everton have assembled a promising crop of young talent, who should be capable of much more than they’re currently achieving.
Mired in controversy ever since relegation from the Premier League, the club are now called Milton Keynes Dons, a result of their decision to relocate to Milton Keynes in pursuit of a stadium. Having gained promotion from League One last season, they now sit one place above the relegation zone.
In protest against the club’s decision to relocate, AFC Wimbledon was formed and entered the bottom of the football pyramid: they have enjoyed a great deal of success, gaining promotion five times in nine seasons, taking them to their current position of 8th in League Two.
Like Everton, the Blues have never faced the drop. Chelsea experienced new heights when Roman Abramovich took over in 2003: the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Cup and FA Cup have all been won under the Russian’s watch.
Second only to Leicester’s fairy-tale rise to the summit of the league, Chelsea’s unpredictable story of capitulation under Mourinho was finally resolved when Guus Hiddink came back to the club for a second time. Fighting in the Champions League and FA Cup, Chelsea’s priorities do not include the league; with qualification to the Champions League through the league no longer an option, the London-based team reside 10th in the league.
As with Chelsea, the Gunners have never experienced life in the Championship. Mainstays in the Premier League, they became title competitors when Frenchman Arsene Wenger took charge. Overseeing several league titles and FA Cups, one has to call his time at the club a success. Presently, though, Wenger’s team lack the nerve to win the league; critics have lamented the timid and cowardly nature at the club. They recently saw their title hopes fade with embarrassing losses to the worst Manchester United team in twenty years and a relegation battling Swansea.
Finishing ninth in the league’s first season, City’s fortunes took a turn for the worst as they battled to survive for three consecutive seasons, before eventually being relegated in 1996. Things escalated two seasons later as they joined the third tier. They were to re-join the Premier League only to be relegated once more in 2001. However, a year later The Citizens were back.
Currently, the club are the beneficiaries of the incomprehensibly wealthy Abu Dabhi United Group. Millions of pounds later, and the club challenge on all fronts; this will only be perpetuated by the imminent arrival of the world’s best manager, Pep Guardiola.
Alongside Manchester United, Spurs are the only team to have one a trophy in each of the last six decades. Never relegated from the Premier League, Tottenham have cemented themselves as part of the furniture in the league.
Mauricio Pochettino has been the recipient of great praise this season as his side embarked upon an unlikely title challenge. Sitting second, The Lilywhites are in serious contention. How well they will be able to juggle the demanding Europa League and a title push will ultimately dictate their chance of silverware this year.
Sharing a fall from grace with their rivals United, Wednesday plummeted to League One in the 2003/04 season. A brief spell in the Championship was achieved, only for the cub to face life in League One again. Under Dave Jones, however, the Owls secured promotion to the Championship in 2012/13, where they have remained since.
Backed by Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri, the club have built a talented squad, and are now pushing for promotion via the play-offs.
A club with serial success, rich history in Europe and a tremendous fan base: all ingredients one would associate with title-winning. Yet, the Merseyside club have never managed to get their hands on the Premier League trophy; a source of constant mocking for rival fans. Liverpool pushed for the title under Brendan Rodgers, with Suarez and Sturridge firing on all cylinders, but their pursuit collapsed with an unforgettable 1-0 loss to Chelsea at home, followed by a miraculous 3-3 draw away to Crystal Palace after the Reds had been 3-0 up.
Jurgen Klopp has instilled a sense of optimism around the club, but is not expected to bring instant success to a squad deprived of the talent necessary to mount an assault on the title.
Queens Park Rangers
QPR are another example of the sad decline that accompanies clubs relegated from the Premier League; demotion to the third tier and deep financial problems. Despite being plagued by controversy the club achieved promotion to the Premier League in 2011 and 2014, respectively.
They were relegated last season, and appointed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink mid-way through this campaign. QPR don’t appear to have any ambitions of being promoted this season as Hasselbaink implements his philosophy, but could be contenders next season.
Only one of five teams to win the Premier League, this once successful club currently reside in the Championship. In no real threat of relegation and with no genuine aspirations for promotion, the fans long for the days when goals from Alan Shearer fired them to the title.
The Canaries managed a surprising 3rd place finish in the Premier League’s first season, but were soon to be relegated. In the 1994-5 season they collapsed, on a profound level: winning just one of their last twenty games.
They’re most humiliating moment, in recent years, came when they were relegated to League One. However, they were soon back in the second tier of English football. Last season saw Neil Adams take over half-way through the campaign and guide them back to the top of English football through the play-offs.
Fighting relegation, Adams’ side have performed well in recent games, but need results.
Remarkably, Aston Villa used to be quite good. They finished second in league’s first season and are one of only a handful clubs never to have been relegated (although this record seems doomed).
Villa have been struggling for survival in the past few seasons, and it appears as though the fight is no longer there. Bar a Leicester City-esque miracle, this huge club will have to endure life in England’s second tier next season.
Winning the league in the Premier League’s first season, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side would set the tone for the rest of the Premier League era: dominance. They would go on to win the title a staggering fourteen times, finally leap-frogging Liverpool in 2012/13 when they secured their 20th league title.
The club’s fortunes have changed, however. Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 saw David Moyes take the helm: the less said about his time the better. Louis van Gaal took over at the start of the 2014 season and has done little to improve the club. The Dutchman has been credited with blooding in youngsters, but that wouldn’t have been necessary had he built a sufficiently sized squad.
The Red Devils are challenging for a Champions League spot and must avoid the danger of becoming like Liverpool: reminiscing about times gone, rather than experiencing present success.