Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds no closer to ending decade long wait, but Leicester...

Sheffield Wednesday - The Owls

Tim Hook looks at the falls of varying former top flight clubs - and wonders which will make their comeback.

Unwelcome visitors, unchartered territory and homecomings. 

Whilst eyes are firmly planted on the ever-changing events of the Premier League, in the Championship, the promotion race is really taking shape.

Leicester City are currently looking favourites to make a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, sitting 8 points clear at the top of the league.

QPR, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Derby County and Reading currently make up the remainder of the top 6 with The Hoops looking to cement themselves in the top 2 automatic promotion spots.

Of those teams, Forest have a particularly successful past when it comes to domestic and European competition. They won back to back European Cups in the late 1970’s and have also won the FA Cup on two occasions throughout their history.

Forest take their place as the 9th most decorated club in the history of English football, alongside Wolverhampton Wanderers who currently ply their trade in League 1. They belong to an array of historically successful clubs that now compete outside of England’s top tier.

In more recent years, Leeds United and Portsmouth have had particularly dramatic falls from grace. Leeds were competing in a Champions League semi-final in 2001, only to see themselves drop out of the Premier League just 2 years later. 

Portsmouth, currently sitting 18th in League 2 lifted the FA Cup in 2008 but subsequently succumbed to multiple relegations. Both clubs suffered heavily from overwhelming financial misdealing’s.

But it is not just in England that the rise and decline of a football club can occur in quick succession.

Deportivo de La Coruna - now competing in Spain’s Segunda División - won La Liga just 13 years ago and were in a Champions League semi-final in 2004.

In Germany, 1. FC Kaiserslautern currently compete in the second tier of German football having won the Bundesliga just 16 years ago.

However, it is not always doom and gloom; not so long ago there was a circumstance in which a club achieved a Wimbledon-esque movement up the leagues.

Fulham, who were playing in the 4th tier of English football in 1997 took just 4 years to make their way to the Premier League and even managed to take Atletico Madrid to extra time in the final of the UEFA Europe League in 2010.

Another attribute to being a successful club is the fan base, and it is surprising to see how many clubs with big stadiums and support have not competed in the Premier League for quite some time.

In fact, Brighton & Hove Albion are the team with the biggest ground to have never even played in the Premier League. They drew in an average attendance of 26,373 in the 2012-13 season – the 67th highest average in European football.

Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United both play at grounds which can hold nearly 40,000 people, yet neither of them have played Premier League football for a decade. 

However neither club look any closer to making their comeback. Sheffield Wednesday will see Championship survival and consolidation as success, with a hope to making a challenge in coming seasons.

For Leeds, talk of a promotion challenge has petered out after a terrible run of results in January, although given the openness of the division, it isn't impossible to see them making a run at the play-offs, if they can arrest the slide which has seen no wins in their last seven league games.

Middlesbrough and Derby occupy 35,000-seater stadiums whereas Sheffield United, Coventry City, Leicester, Wolves, Blackburn, Ipswich, Birmingham and Bolton all have stadiums in and around the 30,000 capacity.

It is not just the presence of big clubs and their big stadiums which make the Premier League interesting and entertaining. Rivalries and derbies add a spice to league fixtures which can fire up even the neutral spectator.

This year saw the first ever top flight meeting between Swansea City and Cardiff City in the South Wales derby.

This fixture stands out as one of the fiercest rivalries in British football and the chance for the two teams to finally meet in the Premier League was eagerly anticipated by many fans.

Rivals? Premier League debutants? Big clubs making their long awaited return? The 3 teams that step into the Premier League next season may bring about many talking points; unwelcome visitors, unchartered territory or homecomings.

The following clubs to have featured at least once in the Premier League are:

Championship

Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers, Blackpool, Birmingham City, Burnley, Derby County, Leeds United, Leicester City, Middlesbrough, QPR, Reading, Nottingham Forest, Watford

League 1

Sheffield United, Bradford City, Coventry City, Wolves, Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town, MK Dons (previously as Wimbledon FC)

League 2

Portsmouth

Did you know?

A total of 46 teams have played in the Premier League. Preston North End and Huddersfield Town are the only former top-flight First Division champions to have never played in the Premier League. 

image: © Niki Odolphie

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