English clubs · English league · Records & statistics

Second Tier


Only 9 clubs have never dropped out of the the top 2 tiers of English football from the time they first entered the Football League – Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Leicester City.

If Leicester City are relegated this weekend, they will lose their place in this elite group of clubs. Obviously, once a club loses its place in this group, it can never be regained. Blackpool (1978), Sheffield Utd (1979), Burnley (1980), Sunderland (1987), Birmingham City (1989), WBA (1991), Manchester City (1998 ) and Leeds Utd (2007) have all suffered that fate in the last 30 seasons.

On a separate note, if Hull City are promoted this season, they will end their “reign” as the club that has spent the most number of seasons in the second tier without ever having played in the first tier – 53. This was a “crown” previously held by Barnsley until they won promotion to top tier in 1997. Before they were promoted in 1997, Barnsley had played in the second tier in 61 of 88 seasons from when they first joined the Football League (in 1898 ).

If Hull City are promoted, Port Vale are next in line to be the club that has spent the most number of seasons in the second tier without ever having played in the first tier (41) – a “title” they are unlikely to lose anytime in the near future following their relegation to the fourth tier. However, if Plymouth Argyle spend 3 more seasons in the second tier (without being promoted to the first tier) before Port Vale next play at that level, they will share the “honour”.

The fact that should Hull City be promoted, Hull will end its reign as the biggest city in Britain (if not Europe) not to have a club play in the top flight of its country’s domestic league has been discussed elsewhere.

Good luck to Leicester City and Hull City this weekend.

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

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4 thoughts on “Second Tier

  1. Oh well, Leicester are relegated, and Hull only managed to make the play-offs.

    However, finishing third in the Championship equals Hull’s best ever finish in the league – 1909-10, when they finished third in the old Second Division, missing out on second place by mere goal difference (of 6), with only two clubs being promoted.

    Nine seasons later, when league football resumed in 1919 after World War 1, in order to increase the first tier from 20 to 22 clubs, Arsenal, who had finished 5th in the second tier in the last season before the interruption of the war (1914-15), were promoted ahead of the clubs that had finished 3rd and 4th in somewhat murky circumstances.

    While Hull have to date never played in the top tier, Arsenal have gone on to enjoy 82 consecutive seasons in the top flight (and counting!), the longest continuous spell any club has enjoyed in any one tier, let alone the top tier.

    Little twists of fate.

    Ironically (or perhaps not ironic at all), Hull’s one appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals in 1930 was against Arsenal. Hull took a 2-0 lead before being pegged back to 2-2. They then lost the replay 0-1.

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

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