The history of promotion and relegation in the Premier League era

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Premier League clubs have often had trouble reclaiming top-flight status upon relegation, especially given the playoff route determining the third promotion spot each season in the Championship.

But this season appears to be different, with Norwich City on the brink of sealing promotion and Watford not far behind. Bournemouth is on the edge of the playoff picture, too, three points back of sixth with a match-in-hand, and fellow rivals won’t want any part of the Cherries.

Last season, Fulham was the only club to bounce back to the Premier League in just one second-tier year after consecutive seasons saw zero teams go down and come right back up.

What will be the stories when Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion, and (probably) either Fulham or Newcastle United are relegated from the Premier League this season? Using either of the aforementioned teams as templates shows the mercurial swings of the top flight, as Sheffield United has twice left the PL for 12 seasons each absence while West Brom has been relegated four times but spent a total of six seasons in the Championship.

Then there are the 26 teams who’ve been relegated and are yet to return to the Premier League, 14 of which have now spent at least 10 seasons in the second-tier or lower.

That includes Swindon Town and Oldham Athletic, relegated from the second season of the Premier League and now in League One and League Two, respectively.

When have at least two teams bounced right back?

Never have all three relegated teams have come right back to the Premier League the next season, and only five times in 27 seasons have two teams bounced back after just a single Championship season.

We did not measure 1992-93, the first season of the PL, but we did include 1995-96. That’s the year after four teams were relegated and only two promoted to shrink the table from 22 to 20 teams.

Here are the clubs who’ve come up together after just one year in the second tier.

2015-16: Burnley and Hull City
2009-10: Newcastle and West Brom
2006-07: Birmingham City and Sunderland
1997-98: Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough
1993-94: Nottingham Forest and Leicester City

Newcastle United v Sheffield United
NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM РAPRIL 05: Newcastle manager, Chris Hughton celebrates with Fabricio Coloccini  (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

How long relegated?

All told, 22 of 82 teams relegated between 1992-93 and 2018-19 returned to the Premier League after just one season.

Eleven times, however, no one made it a blip and came right back to the Premier League.

So how long have clubs stayed down? And where are they now?

+ = Premier League
++ = Championship
+++ = League One
++++ = League Two
*Wimbledon suffered a sort of schism, renamed MK Dons in 2004 after moving 50 miles north. A group of supporters started AFC Wimbledon in 2002. Both clubs are currently in League One.

Yet to return
++Cardiff City (2019-20 – present)
++Huddersfield Town (2019-20 – present)
++Swansea City (2018-19 – present)
++Stoke City (2018-19 – present)
+++Sunderland (2017-18 to present)
++Middlesbrough (2017-18 to present)
+++Hull City (2017-18 to present)
++Queens Park Rangers (2015-16 to present)
++Reading (2013-14 to present)
+++Wigan Athletic (2013-14 to present)
++Bolton Wanderers (2012-13 to present)
++Blackburn Rovers (2012-13 to present)
+++Blackpool (2011-12 to present)
++Birmingham City (2011-12 to present)
+++Portsmouth (2010-11 to present)
++Derby County (2008-09 to present)
+++Charlton Athletic (2007-08 to present)
+++Ipswich Town (2002-03 to present)
++Coventry City (2001-02 to present)
++++Bradford City (2001-02 to present)
*Wimbledon (2000-01 to present)
++Sheffield Wednesday (2000-01 to present)
++Nottingham Forest (1999-2000 to present)
++Barnsley (1998-99 to present)
++++Oldham Athletic (1994-95 to present)
+++Swindon Town (1994-95 to present)

One season in Championship
+Fulham (2019-20)
+Newcastle United (2016-17)
+++Hull City (2015-16)
+Burnley (2015-16)
++Norwich City (2014-15)
++Queens Park Rangers (2013-14)
+West Ham United (2011-12)
+Newcastle United (2009-10)
+West Bromwich Albion (2009-10)
++Birmingham City (2008-09)
+++Sunderland (2006-07)
++Birmingham City (2006-07)
+West Bromwich Albion (2003-04)
+Leicester City (2002-03)
+Manchester City (2001-02)
+++Charlton Athletic (1999-2000)
++Middlesbrough (1997-98)
++Nottingham Forest (1997-98)
++++Bolton Wanderers (1996-97)
+Leicester City (1995-96)
+Crystal Palace (1993-94)
++Nottingham Forest (1993-94)

Two seasons in Championship
+West Brom (2018-19 and 2019-20)
+West Brom (2006-07 and 2007-08)
+West Ham United (2003-04 and 2004-05)
+++Sunderland (2003-04 and 2004-05)
++Blackburn Rovers (1999-2000 and 2000-01)
+++Sunderland (1997-98 and 1998-99)
+Crystal Palace (1995-96 and 1996-97)
++Middlesbrough (1993-94 and 1994-95)

Three seasons
+Aston Villa (2016-17 to 2018-19)
++Norwich City (2016-17 to 2018-19)
+++Hull City (2010-11 to 2012-13)
++++Bolton Wanderers (1998-99 to 2000-01)
+Crystal Palace (1998-99 to 2003-04)

Four seasons
+Fulham (2014-15 to 2017-18)
++Cardiff City (2014-15 to 2017-18)
+Burnley (2010-11 to 2013-14)
++Reading (2008-09 to 2011-12)
+Manchester City (1996-97 to 1999-2000)

Five seasons
+Wolves (2004-05 to 2009-09)
++Derby County (2002-03 to 2006-07)
+++Ipswich Town (1995-96 to 1999-20)

Six seasons
+Wolves (2012-13 to 2017-18)
++Norwich City (2005-06 to 2010-2011)
++Watford (2000-01 to 2005-06)

Seven seasons
++Middlesbrough (2009-10 to 2015-16)
+Southampton (2005-06 to 2011-12)

Eight seasons
++Watford (2007-08 to 2014-15)
+Crystal Palace (2005-06 to 2012-13)

Nine seasons
++Norwich City (1995-96 to 2003-04)

Ten seasons
+Leicester City (2004-05 to 2013-14)

Twelve seasons
+Sheffield United (2007-08 to 2018-19)
+Sheffield United (1994-95 to 2005-06)

Fifteen seasons
++Queens Park Rangers (1996-97 to 2010-11)

Sixteen seasons
+Leeds United (2004-05 to 2019-20)