The fate of promoted clubs in the Premier League has varied greatly over the years, with the likes of Reading, Birmingham City and Ipswich Town in particular struggling after their debut season.

General view before the game – St Andrew’s Birmingham City

Second season syndrome is a term that was coined a long time ago, and applies to teams who experience a solid first year in the Premier League before crumbling under the expectation the year after and often being relegated in their second campaign. It has happened to a number of different sides with varying levels of severity, but these three are the biggest and best examples of them all.

Birmingham City

Back in 2009, the Blues were promoted after finishing 2nd in the Championship. In their first season back in the top flight they managed a 9th place finish, going on a 15-game unbeaten streak along the way. With such a successful year there were high hopes for the future, however they went on to be relegated the following season on the final day.

David Edgar of Birmingham City celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal

A League Cup victory earlier in the season could be seen as a detriment when looking back, with their results following the triumph being extremely poor. Birmingham haven’t played in the top flight since and as they lie mid-table in the second tier, they’ll forever be wondering if more could’ve been done to prevent relegation.

Ipswich Town

With probably the most extraordinary of all the cases, Ipswich gained promotion in 2000 as play-off winners and went on to finish 5th in their inaugural season. It was a phenomenal accomplishment, but it didn’t last as a poor campaign in 2001/02 saw them return to the Championship.

Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick (C) celebrates scoring their second goal from the penalty spot with Freddie Sears

The drastic decline that the Tractor Boys endured once again brought up the argument of European competitions providing too much of a distraction for clubs, and ever since then Ipswich haven’t returned to the Premier League.


After winning the Championship, Reading enjoyed an extremely positive debut year in the Premier League as they ended up in 8th position, only missing out on the UEFA Cup by a matter of points. It seemed as if they would manage to solidify themselves as a top side, however it all went downhill just a few months later.

Reading captain Graeme Murty lifts the Championship trophy 2006

Manager Steve Coppell actually stated in the media that he felt his side were suffering from second season syndrome, and that worry came to fruition when Reading were relegated on the final day despite defeating Derby County 4-0.

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