English league · Records & statistics

Clubs Promoted To The First Tier


With Sunderland and Derby occupying 2 of the 3 relegation spots, I had a look back to see how clubs promoted to the top flight since World War 2 have fared.

Even discounting the fact that until 1972-73, only 2 clubs were promoted each season, life has clearly gotten harder for promoted clubs.

(Article first published on BBC 606 and posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

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4 thoughts on “Clubs Promoted To The First Tier

  1. So with one round of games to go, Derby are definitely down, while two from Fulham, Reading and Birmingham will join them (Bolton are all but mathematically safe).

    So at least one of Reading and Birmingham are down.

    If Birmingham go down, for the fourth time in the last five seasons, two of the three promoted clubs will be relegated from the Premier League after just one season.

    From the resumption of league football after World War 2 until the start of the Premier League in 1992, only twice had more than one of the clubs promoted to the top tier been relegated after just one season – Luton and Carlisle in 1974-75 (the first season with 3 clubs promoted, increased from the previous 2), and West Ham and Notts County in 1991-1992 (when 4 clubs had been promoted, to bring the size of the first tier back up from 20 to 22).

    If Reading go down, for the second time in the last three applicable seasons, all the clubs promoted to the first tier in a season would have been relegated within within 2 seasons.

    The only previous times this has happened since the war were in 1996-97 (when only 2 clubs had been promoted in 1994-95 to reduce the size of the Premier League from 22 to 20) and in 1997-98 (when all 3 clubs promoted the previous season – Bolton, Barnsley and Crystal Palace – were relegated within one season).

    All clear evidence (if any was required!) of the growing divide between the first and second tiers of English football.

    It does not bode well for the future.

    WBA may have been the most attractive side in the Championship this season, but there is little to suggest that they are better equipped to stay up this time round than they were the last two times they were promoted (in 2002 – relegated the following season – and in 2004 – relegated within 2 seasons).

    And it will take an almighty effort from Stoke to do significantly better than Derby (and doing significantly better than Derby is no guarantee of staying up!).

    Realistically, the four sides in the Championship play-offs are playing for a season’s break from the Championship (to return the season after).

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

  2. The record of clubs promoted to the Premiership via the playoffs is quite mixed.

    Sunderland (promoted via the play-offs in 1989-90), Notts County (1990-91), Swindon (1992-93), Leicester (1993-94), Bolton (1994-95), Crystal Palace (1996-97), Charlton (1997-98), Watford (1998-99), Wolves (2002-03), Crystal Palace again (2003-04) and Watford again (2005-06) all went straight down, as has Derby this season.

    On the other hand, Blackburn (1991-92), finished fourth in their first season up, second the season after, and won the Premier League in 1994-95. (Of course, Blackburn should never have had to rely on the play-offs to go up in the first place.)

    Ipswich (1999-2000) finished fifth the first season up, but were relegated the following season.

    Bolton (2000-01), Birmingham (2001-02) and West Ham (2004-05) have all done reasonably well in the Premier League, and are still there (although Birmingham were relegated two seasons ago, before being promoted last season, and are barely hanging on this season).

    Leicester (1995-96) did reasonably well in the Premier League for several seasons before being relegated at the end of the 2001-02 season

    (First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)

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