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Have Any Premier League Teams Been Relegated After Winning the Title?

The Premier League has quickly grown into the most prestigious domestic football league in the world since its establishment in 1992. Several of England’s big guns have lifted the trophy throughout the years, with Manchester United still being the most successful side despite finding things much harder in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era.

United’s demise has been long overdue for many fans and there is no doubt that the trip from hero to zero can certainly happen at great pace in the EPL. Success is often cyclical and what goes up often comes down. Whilst the Red Devils are still a major force, history shows us that past success does not guarantee glory in the future. In this piece we ask the question, have we ever had a Premier League title winner get relegated the season after claiming glory?

To date, no Premier League team has won the division and been relegated straight away, the season after. However, as we shall detail shortly, Manchester City won the 1937 English top division before suffering relegation a year on. Before we see how that rapid demise came about, let’s take a closer look at Blackburn, the only team to have been PL champions and subsequently been relegated (as of 2021).

Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park
Image: jim walton, Wikimedia Commons

Since it all started back in the 1992-93 season, seven clubs have lifted the Premier League trophy. Out of those seven, only Blackburn Rovers have been relegated at all after winning the title, with the other six all currently in the Premier League. They did manage four more seasons in the top flight though following their title win, succumbing in 1998-99 when they finished 19th.

Dalglish’s Boys Win PL Title in 1995

In the 1994-95 season, Blackburn Rovers became only the second team to lift the Premier League trophy. Although it was their first PL crown, Rovers had been champions of England twice before and finished runners-up in the 1993-94 Premier League campaign. It was a memorable season for the Lancashire club, which started with a £5m deal for a young Chris Sutton, which broke the English transfer record at the time.

They were involved in a fascinating tussle with reigning champions Man United all season long, pipping the Red Devils by just one point in the end. Blackburn started well, winning five and drawing two of their opening seven before a 2-1 loss at Norwich City in October. Rovers ended poorly, suffering three losses from their final five fixtures. However, despite a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on the last day, United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United handed the title to Blackburn.

Overall, Kenny Dalglish’s men won 27 of their 42 Premier League games, drawing eight and losing seven along the way. They netted 80 Premier League goals, with the prolific Alan Shearer scoring a staggering 34 of them. Rovers finished on 89 points, a point above Man United.

Final 1994-95 Premier League Table – Top Four

Club Played Wins Draws Defeats Points
1 Blackburn Rovers 42 27 8 7 89
2 Manchester United 42 26 10 6 88
3 Nottingham Forest 42 22 11 9 77
4 Liverpool 42 21 11 10 74

Rovers’ Tepid Title Defence in 1995-96

The following season, Blackburn failed to build on their title success, going on to finish in a poor seventh place. Despite taking Rovers to the title the season before, Dalglish opted to resign from his managerial role at Ewood Park before the start of the 1995-96 season, moving into a Director of Football position, which obviously had a huge impact on the playing team.

Blackburn won their opening game of the season but went on to lose three in a row and four of their following five. They had an excellent run of six wins and two draws from eight from December to February, but their title hopes were well and truly over by then. Blackburn went on to finish a whopping 21 points behind winners Man United.

Club Played Wins Draws Defeats Points
1 Manchester United 38 25 7 6 82
7 Blackburn Rovers 38 18 7 13 61

Rovers Relegations & Where They Are Now

After winning the title, Blackburn were relegated to Division One just four years later. Brian Kidd took over from Roy Hodgson midway through the season, but the Mancunian failed to keep Rovers in the top tier. They had a miserable campaign, collecting just 35 points and finishing second from bottom.

Final 1998-99 Premier League Table – Bottom Three

Club Played Wins Draws Defeats Points
18 Charlton Athletic 38 8 12 18 36
19 Blackburn Rovers 38 7 14 17 35
20 Nottingham Forest 38 7 9 22 30

The relegation came as a real surprise as despite finishing 13th in 1996-97, they bounced back to claim sixth the following season. However, in 1998-99, with Shearer long since sold to Newcastle, Rovers really struggled for goals and managing only seven wins they relegated.

It would be only a short stay outside the top flight though and Blackburn won promotion from the Football League as Division One runners-up in 2001. They then stayed in the Premier League until 2012, twice finishing in the top six. Under Steve Kean, the Blue and Whites struggled all season in the 2011-12 campaign though, eventually finishing in 19th with just 31 points to their name.

Since dropping out of the Premier League at the end of the 2011-12 season, Blackburn have never regained their place in England’s top division. The Lancashire club even spent a year in the third tier in 2017-18. Nowadays, Rovers are one of several clubs fighting to get out of the EFL Championship and back into the top league of English football.

Manchester City: The Bad Before the Good

Manchester City Etihad Stadium East Stand Entrance
Image: coward_lion Bigstock Photo

Manchester City are a European powerhouse these days. The noisy neighbours from the blue half of Manchester woke up a decade or so ago, going on to win multiple Premier League titles and cup competitions since the Abu Dhabi owners arrived. City have won four Premier League titles and look nailed on to win the 2020-21 Premier League. It also seems just a matter of time until they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy.

City have enjoyed supreme success in recent times, but many of the club’s older supporters will remember the dark days at their old Maine Road ground. Shaun Goater may have been a cult hero at the club but Sergio Aguero he was not! In the early years of the Premier League, Man City survived by the skin of their teeth on a few occasions before eventually dropping out at the end of the 1995-96 campaign. They spent a season in the third tier before back-to-back promotions put them back in the Premier League in 2000. City were relegated then promoted again and have been in the Premier League since 2002. Much as may despise the way they have seemingly bought success, nobody can deny that their fans have endured more than enough bad times, especially in the long shadow cast by rivals United.

1937 English Champions Suffer 1938 Relegation

Way back in 1938, Man City became the first, last and only team to have been relegated from the top tier of English football after winning the title the season before. In the 1936-37 First Division, the Manchester club coasted to the title, picking up 22 wins along the way.

A year later, though, City had a title defence to forget, dropping into the Second Division after taking just 36 points from 42 games, No side suffered more defeats, while City shipped 77 goals. Incredibly, despite finishing second from bottom, they were the top scorers in the league with an astounding 80 goals to their name. It was quite the ride back then and not one any City fan will want to see repeated.

Manchester City’s 1936-37 & 1937-38 Seasons

Season Played Wins Draws Defeats Points
1936-37 42 22 13 7 57 (Champions)
1937-38 42 14 8 20 36 (Relegated)

NB – it was two points not three for a win in this era

Leicester City: Foxes a Yo-yo Club Before Their Title Success

Leicester City Flag

Leicester City shocked the world of football when they defied the odds to become Premier League champions in 2016. Famously, Claudio Ranieri’s side were priced at 5000/1 to lift the trophy before a ball was kicked at the start of the 2015-16 season. Incredibly, Leicester were plying their trade in the Championship just two years before.

Since the Premier League began back in 1992, Leicester have spent just 14 seasons in the top flight of English football. Despite winning the title, the Foxes are only in 14th position in the all-time Premier League table (as of the start of the 2020-21 season). They have been relegated from the Premier League three times. Out of the seven title winners, only Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have been Premier League ever-presents. Leicester, Blackburn and Man City have all spent multiple seasons in the second and even third tiers.

Championship / Division One Champions Relegated From Premier League

Football in Rain Bouncing on Pitch
The step up from the Championship to the Premier League has been a rude awakening for several Championship winners throughout the years. We have seen numerous teams dominate the second tier only to be relegated back down after just one season in the top flight. Since 1992, Sunderland (twice), Norwich City (twice), Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Cardiff City have all been relegated from the Premier League after winning the second tier the season before.

Heartbreak for Two of Italy’s Giants

Italian Flag Waving

In the 1978-79 Serie A season, AC Milan picked up their 10th Italian title, winning 17 of 30 games to pip unbeaten Perugia to the crown by just three points. However, Milan were relegated for the first time in their history the following year. Due to the 1980 Totonero, which was a match-fixing scandal, several of Italy’s big clubs were punished, including then champions Milan, who were relegated to Serie B.

Decades after Totonero, another shocking scandal rocked the Italian game. This time, Juventus found out what it was like to win the title and be relegated the season after due to off-field issues. The Old Lady were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 titles after general managers Antonio Giraudo and Luciano Moggi were found guilty of influencing refereeing decisions in Serie A games.

Nevertheless, after one year away from the top tier, Juve were promoted from Serie B as champions, winning 28 times and securing 85 points. It took them a few years to adjust to life back in Serie A but after four seasons of going close they reclaimed the Scudetto once again in 2011-12. Amazingly they won it every year  for the next eight seasons too meaning they claimed nine titles in a row between 2011-12 and 2019-20.

Bribery Scandal Cost Marseille Title

Marseille Port

Marseille won the 1992-93 French Division 1 championship, picking up four more points than runners-up Paris Saint-Germain. However, they were stripped of their title after the club were found guilty of bribery in a match between themselves and Valenciennes on 20th May 1993, which Marseille won 1-0. A year later, the Olympians finished second but were relegated due to the scandal. Before PSG won the title in 1994, Marseille were the last legal winners of France’s top division in ‘92.

1968 German Champions Relegated a Year Later

Nurnberg Flag

Nurnberg picked up the German title in 1968, finishing three points above Werder Bremen and five clear of Borussia Monchengladbach. They had won several titles in Germany before, but that was the Bavaria club’s first Bundesliga triumph.

A year after their memorable title-winning campaign, Nurnberg suffered a shock relegation to the second tier of German football. They picked up just nine wins all season, drawing 11 and losing 15 of their other 25 fixtures. Nurnberg ended up a point behind Borussia Dortmund and Kaiserslautern in the fight for survival.

Relegation For the 2000 Danish Top-Flight Champions

Danish Flag Against Grey Sky

In the 10th season of the Danish Superliga, minnows Herfolge lifted the trophy after accumulating an impressive 56 points from 33 league games, winning 16 times in the process. However, the following season, they were relegated with a whimper. Herfolge claimed a mere seven league wins all year and went on to finish a whopping nine points adrift of safety in Denmark’s top tier, quite the demise.