The English Premier League was established as FA Premier League on 20th February 1992. The League was formed with respect to the decision made by the clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from the Football League that was founded in the year 1888.
There is a system called the English football league system which is followed by the English Premier League to promote or relegate the teams for next season. EPL is the top level of the league system which is contested by 20 clubs and teams at the bottom of the points table will be transferred to the English Football League (EFL).
What is Relegation?
Every sport has numerous leagues that follow their own set of rules to promote and relegate clubs. When it comes to the English Football League system, promotion and relegation is a process that takes place at the end of a season. In this process, clubs are transferred between various divisions based on their performance and points earned in the completed season.
A Simple Definition for Relegation:
The lowest ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season, whereas the top-ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the upcoming season.
For example, The bottom three teams in an EPL season are relegated to EFL Championship (Second level division), while the top two teams in the EFL Championship are promoted to the next EPL season. One more team will be promoted by conduction playoffs between next four teams.
There are some leagues in which the playoffs or qualifying rounds are used to determine rankings. This ranking process is carried over through few levels of divisions, with clubs being transferred between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on.
How Does the Relegation work?
The English Premier League follows a set of rules in order to promote or relegate clubs for the next season. The rules are being categorized based on levels using which the clubs are either promoted or relegated. Listed down below are the rules that have been followed so far:
Level 1 – Premier League
The topmost football league at the English football league system has 20 teams. The three teams that are at the bottom are relegated. The relegated teams move to the EFL Championship.
Level 2 – English Football League Championship
A Total 24 teams will participate in EFL Championship every year.
Top two teams at the end of the EFL Championship are automatically promoted, whereas the next four teams compete in the playoffs, with the winner of the playoffs gaining the third promotion spot.
On the EFL Championship table, the teams that are at the bottom three are relegated. The relegated clubs move ahead to the next level.
Level 3 – English Football League One
Football League One has 24 teams and the same process is carried forward!
Promotion & Relegation:
The top two teams at the end of the English Football League One are automatically promoted, while the following next four teams compete in playoffs, with the winner of the playoff moving ahead to the third promotion spot. The bottom four teams are relegated.
Level 4 – English Football League Two
Like Football League One, the 4th level league (Football League Two) also has 24 teams.
The process continues as the top three teams with the highest points at the end of the English Football League Two are automatically promoted. The next four teams participate in playoffs and the winning teams get an advantage of the fourth promotion spot. Promotion aside, the bottom two teams are relegated.
Level 5 – National League
The National League has a total of 24 teams. The champions (top team) are promoted, whereas the next six teams fight against each other in playoffs. The winning team has an advantage of grabbing the second promotion spot.
The four teams at the bottom level are relegated to either North or South division as appropriate.
The level 6 contains two leagues and both of them has 22 teams each. They are:
- National League North
- National League South
Since there are two divisions, the champions in each division are promoted, while the next six teams in each division compete in playoffs. The winner of the playoff in each division gets the second promotion spot. The bottom three teams in the relegation zone in each division are relegated to either Northern Premier League, Southern League or Isthmian League as appropriate.
In case after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in the North and South divisions is not equal, transferring of one or more teams between the two divisions is made in order to even them up again.
The level 7 contains four leagues and each of them has 22 teams. The four leagues at level 7 are:
- Northern Premier League Premier Division
- Southern Football League Central Division
- Southern Football League South Division
- Isthmian League Premier Division
Each league in this division has 22 teams each and the champions in each division are automatically promoted, whereas the next four teams in each division compete in the playoffs. For a further match, the four playoff winners are paired off to decide two more promoted teams.
In each division, the bottom three teams are relegated to a suitable league in the next level (Level – 8). If at all after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in each division do not tally, then one or more teams are transferred between the four divisions to even them up again.
The following leagues are in level 8 with 20 teams in each of them.
- Northern Premier League Division One North
- Northern Premier League Division One South
- Southern Football League Division One East
- Southern Football League Division One West
- Isthmian League Division One North
- Isthmian League Division One South Central
- Isthmian League Division One South East
Under 7 divisions, the champions in each division are promoted to a higher level league, while the next four teams in each division compete in playoffs. The five best play-off winners in accordance with the points per game are being promoted.
The two teams that are present at the bottom in each division are relegated to a Level 9 division as appropriate which follows till Level 20. After promotion and relegation if the number of teams in the divisions is not equal, then in such a scenario one or more teams are transferred between the divisions to tally the count.
Which EPL Clubs have never been Relegated?
There are 6 clubs in the Premier League that have never been relegated since the inception of the English Premier League in 1992.
- Manchester United
- Tottenham Hotspur
Each and every team has been relegated from the top flight/division at least once. Team Arsenal currently holds the longest streak of not being relegated. Arsenal was relegated for the first and last time from the top division in the 1912-13 season. Since the Premier League was formed in 1992, there are six teams until this 2017-18 season that has not been relegated.
Least Relegated EPL Teams
In EPL, there are clubs that have never been relegated and there are also teams that have been relegated just once. Listed down below are the Premier League teams that have been in the relegation zone just once, as of 18 January 2019.
- Aston Villa – (2015-16)
- Southampton – (2004-05)
- Fulham – (2013-14)
- Cardiff City – (2013-14)
- Leeds United – (2003-04)
- Stoke City – (2017-18)
- Coventry City – (2000-01)
- Sheffield Wednesday – (1999-2000)
- Wimbledon – (1999-2000)
- Wigan Athletic – (2012-13)
- Swansea City – (2017-18)
- Portsmouth – (2009-10)
- Oldham Athletic – (1993-94)
- Bradford City – (2000-01)
- Blackpool – (2010-11)
- Barnsley – (1997-98)
- Swindon Town – (1993-94)
Most Relegated Teams in EPL
Clubs in English Premier League have also been relegated for more than one time since 1992. The maximum number of times a club has been relegated is 4 times and the Premier League teams that have been relegated 4 times, as of 18 January 2019 are given below.
- Crystal Palace
- West Bromwich Albion
- Norwich City
Team Crystal Palace is the only team playing in the 2018/19 Premier League season after facing the most relegations in the Premier League (4) with their latest relegation during the 2004-05 season.
The club’s first relegation was at the end of the foundational 1992–93 season, but the team bounced back to the Premier League for 1994–95 campaign, after winning the First Division Championship the following season.
The 1994-95 season was the first Premier League season that had four relegation places, and Crystal Palace finished fourth from bottom to be relegated back to the First Division.
At the end of the 1996–97 season, Palace performed exceptionally well in the playoffs and got promoted to the top flight Premier League once again, yet had to face another relegation the following season (1997-98 season) after finishing bottom.
Palace did not give up and returned back to the Premier League, after winning the playoffs again in 2003–04, but was again relegated to the Championship the following (2004-05 season) season.
For the third time, Palace won the playoffs at the end of the 2012–13 season, and for the very first time was able to avoid relegation the next (2013-14 season) season and have not been relegated so far (As of 18 January 2019).
Do you want to know the teams that have been relegated to various levels in accordance with the English Football League system which is also referred to as ‘Football Pyramid’? If so, we have shared below the clubs that have been relegated from Premier League to Championship and the clubs relegated from Championship to League One.
Relegated teams (from Premier League to Championship)
The relegated clubs since 2004-05 season along with the points earned by them the following seasons are mentioned below (via wikipedia.org). Since the 2004-05 season, the Premier League has been continuously relegating three teams. Aston Villa has been relegated only once during the 2015-16 season with a very low score of 17 points.
|2004–05||Crystal Palace (33), Norwich City (33), Southampton (32)|
|2005–06||Birmingham City (34), West Bromwich Albion (30), Sunderland (15)|
|2006–07||Sheffield United (38), Charlton Athletic (34), Watford (29)|
|2007–08||Reading (36), Birmingham City (35), Derby County (11)|
|2008–09||Newcastle United (34), Middlesbrough (32), West Bromwich Albion (32)|
|2009–10||Burnley (30), Hull City (30), Portsmouth (19)|
|2010–11||Birmingham City (39), Blackpool (39), West Ham United (33)|
|2011–12||Bolton Wanderers (36), Blackburn Rovers (31), Wolverhampton Wanderers (25)|
|2012–13||Wigan Athletic (36), Reading (28), Queens Park Rangers (25)|
|2013–14||Norwich City (33), Fulham (32), Cardiff City (30)|
|2014–15||Hull City (35), Burnley (33), Queens Park Rangers (30)|
|2015–16||Newcastle United (37), Norwich City (34), Aston Villa (17)|
|2016–17||Hull City (34), Middlesbrough (28), Sunderland (24)|
|2017–18||Swansea City (33), Stoke City (33), West Bromwich Albion (31)|
From the table, we can interpret that Derby County is the club with the least points (11) to be relegated and Birmingham City is the highest points scorer (39) since the 2004-05 season to be relegated.
Relegated teams (from Championship to League One)
The clubs that get relegated from the Premier League, compete with the teams in Championship. Teams that reach the bottom spot in the Championship are further relegated to League One. The table below shows the list of clubs as per each season since 2004-05 that have been relegated to League One.
|2004–05||Gillingham (50), Nottingham Forest (44), Rotherham United (29)|
|2005–06||Crewe Alexandra (42), Millwall (40), Brighton & Hove Albion (38)|
|2006–07||Southend United (42), Luton Town (40), Leeds United (36)|
|2007–08||Leicester City (52), Scunthorpe United (46), Colchester United (38)|
|2008–09||Norwich City (46), Southampton (45), Charlton Athletic (39)|
|2009–10||Sheffield Wednesday (47), Plymouth Argyle (41), Peterborough United (34)|
|2010–11||Preston North End (42), Sheffield United (42), Scunthorpe United (42)|
|2011–12||Portsmouth (40), Coventry City (40), Doncaster Rovers (36)|
|2012–13||Peterborough United (54), Wolverhampton Wanderers (51), Bristol City (41)|
|2013–14||Doncaster Rovers (44), Barnsley (39), Yeovil Town (37)|
|2014–15||Millwall (41), Wigan Athletic (39), Blackpool (26)|
|2015–16||Charlton Athletic (40), Milton Keynes Dons (39), Bolton Wanderers (30)|
|2016–17||Blackburn Rovers (51), Wigan Athletic (42), Rotherham United (23)|
|2017–18||Barnsley (41), Burton Albion (41), Sunderland (37)|
From the table, we can say that Rotherham United is the club with the least points (23) to be relegated and Peterborough United is the highest points scorer (54) since the 2004-05 season to be relegated.