20 May 2024

Down and out – how Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton returned to Championship

20 May 2024

Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton have become only the second trio of promoted clubs to all be relegated in the same Premier League season.

Bolton, Barnsley and Crystal Palace in 1997-98 were the only teams to previously suffer the same fate and here, the PA news agency looks at how the current crop compare.

Down and out

This season’s bottom three have an unwanted case to be regarded as the worst relegated trio of the Premier League era, setting several records for futility.

The Blades in particular have failed to compete on their return to the top flight, winning just three games and conceding a record 104 goals – Swindon’s previous mark of 100 was set in a 42-game season.

Derby’s 11-point team of 2007-08 held the previous 38-game record of 89 goals against as well as the worst ever goal difference, with Chris Wilder’s side matching that record of -69.

Luton and Burnley made a better fist of things but still won only six and five games respectively and could have been down sooner but for the points deduction given to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest for financial reasons.

The bottom three finished with a combined 66 points, with the lowest previous total for the relegated teams being 76 in 2018-19 when Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield finished with 34, 26 and 16 respectively.

Fulham’s 28 points in their subsequent 2020-21 relegation season was the lowest for the 18th-placed finisher – or equivalent top team in the relegation zone in 22-team seasons – until Luton’s 26 this term.

Forest’s 32, admittedly affected by that four-point profitability and sustainability sanction, is the lowest ever for a surviving team – a record previously held by West Brom’s 34 in 2004-05.

Better from Bolton

While the class of 1997-98 have the misfortune of being grouped with this season’s strugglers, Bolton in particular are unlucky to be remembered in such a way.

Wanderers won the 1996-97 Championship with 98 points – a near-identical record to Burnley’s 101-point title-winning campaign last season under Vincent Kompany, and 18 clear of second-placed Barnsley.

They then reached 40 in the Premier League and were relegated only on goal difference behind 17th-placed Everton. In a 38-game season, only West Ham have gone down with more points – 42 in 2002-03.

Barnsley finished five behind on 35 and even bottom club Palace, promoted via David Hopkin’s last-minute play-off final winner against the Blades, reached 33 – a total which would have secured survival this season.

Bolton then reached the 1998-99 play-off final but a 2-0 defeat to Watford meant they missed out on an immediate return – and with Barnsley and Palace finishing 12th and 14th respectively, the omens are not positive as this year’s trio seek to bounce back.

Narrow escape

The 2004-05 season came within a whisker of joining the list, with Norwich and Palace going straight back down and West Brom finishing 17th with their then record low 34 points.

Geoff Horsfield and Kieran Richardson’s goals in a final-day win over Portsmouth left Albion one point above the dotted line and only two clear of bottom club Southampton.

Burnley finished 16th in 2016-17 as fellow promoted sides Hull and Middlesbrough went straight back down, while Sunderland were just three points above the drop zone in 15th in 2007-08 as Derby set the record low points total and Birmingham also lasted only one season.

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