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Opinion

People say relegation could be great for Sunderland but just have a look at these stats…

4 years ago
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With Newcastle United making such a great start to ‘operation bounce back to the Premier League’, I have started to see more and more fans and experts suggesting that relegation might be just the thing Sunderland need.

A bit like ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, the reasoning appears to be that rather than keep struggling in the Premier League, a drop down to the Championship would do the mackems the world of good.

The thinking being that they could then regroup and come back much stronger in the Premier League, a bit like what that Newcastle United appear to be doing.

That thinking could be just a little bit flawed….

Amongst football fans generally, there appears to be a feeling that the increasing parachute payments have meant that in recent seasons it has become ever easier for relegated Premier League clubs. The cash they get when going down giving them an almost unbeatable advantage when competing with the other Championship clubs.

These are the 18 clubs who have been relegated in between the Newcastle relegation seasons of 2008/09 and 2015/16:

2009/10 Burnley, Hull, Portsmouth

2010/11 Birmingham, Blackpool, West Ham

2011/12 Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves

2012/13 Wigan, Reading, QPR

2013/14 Norwich, Fulham, Cardiff

2014/15 Hull, Burnley, QPR

Looking at these 18 instances of relegation, just how did they do after facing relegation?

You might be more than a little surprised to find out that only two clubs who have been relegated in this six year period have managed to get back to the Premier League through automatic promotion.

Also, I don’t mean having to be instantly promoted the season after relegation, just any of the following seasons since going down – so for example in 2011/12, ¬†Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves all went down and in the intervening four seasons, none of them have made it back to the Premier League.

Burnley and Hull are the exceptions, with Hull actually doing it twice.

After relegation in 2009/10 they came up in 2013/14 as runners-up to Leicester, then after instant relegation they have come up last (2015/16) as Championship winners. Hull went down in 2009/10 as well, then finished second in 2012/13 to go up automatically.

None of the other 15 though have come up via automatic promotion – I was amazed.

There have been four others promoted through the lottery of the play-offs, not good enough for the top two positions but finishing between 3rd and 6th, then winning the knockout at the end of the season.

These are West Ham (relegated 2010/11, promoted 2011/12), QPR (relegated 2012/13, promoted 2013/14), Norwich (relegated 2013/14, promoted 2014/15) and Hull (relegated 2014/15, promoted 2015/16).

Of the other 11 relegated clubs, this is where they are now – not having managed to get back to the Premier League (as yet…):

Championship: Blackburn, QPR, Cardiff, Fulham, Wigan, Reading, Birmingham, Wolves

League One: Bolton

League Two: Portsmouth, Blackpool

When you look at these 11 instances of relegation in seasons 2009/10 – 2014/15 (inclusive) where they have failed to yet make it back to the Premier League, three are in Leagues One and Two, whilst of the eight in the Championship, the best you could maybe hope for at the minute this season is for maybe Birmingham to grab a play-off pace.

Newcastle United’s story has skewed things, people keep saying that it is ridiculous that a club like Newcastle has found itself in the Championship (second time under Mike Ashley!) and there is a reason for that – because it is ridiculous that NUFC managed to relegated themselves, despite the advantages of fans and finance they have.

Newcastle are not a typical club to be relegated and so no wonder they were made such hot favourites to return.

This is not being bitchy, just realistic, neutrals do not talk of Sunderland in the same way as Newcastle. Yes they should arguably be doing better than having two points and struggling ever season but if they go down, it isn’t on the same ridiculous level as Newcastle United.

If the Mackems did go down, what is the most realistic outcome?

Well as the 18 examples over six years show, we have had only one in six (3 out of 18) who have managed automatic promotion and only one in 18 (Burnley relegated 2014/15, promoted 2015/16) have done it first time of asking.

Newcastle United look (hopefully) to be bucking this trend and being an exception to the rule.

Villa are looking way off being a promotion candidate, whilst Norwich are starting to feel the heat/pressure after starting well.

It took relegation at Newcastle United for Mike Ashley to at last accept that his way of running the club wouldn’t help cure all the problems he’d initiated.

Most of us appear to believe that relegation was worthwhile if it awoke Ashley to that fact AND pushed him to bring Rafa Benitez to the club and give him control (plus get the benefit of transfer funds helped by crazy money for average players like Wijnaldum and Sissoko).

Unique circumstances and I just don’t see a similar scenario with our friends down the road.

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