English Premier League: Former Top Flight Clubs and Where They Are Now
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The English Premier League is considered one of the toughest and most competitive football leagues on the planet. Since it's formation 20 years ago, the EPL has become the highest revenue generating sports league in the world. (The Bundesliga brings in less revenue but is more profitable due to the higher wages earned by players in the EPL).
Top flight status brings with it many financial benefits, including lucrative television deals and the opportunity to attract higher quality players.
A total of 45 teams have enjoyed EPL status since its creation. Of the 25 former league members, some have enjoyed long runs at the top, while others have fallen on hard times.
Clubs that were part of the EPL within the last five years include:
As for the rest, here's a look at what's become of former EPL members that have been away the longest:
Swindon Town fans still believe
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It's been 18 years since Swindon Town was a member of the Premier League. The club won promotion to the top flight by defeating Leicester City via the Division One playoffs in May of 1993.
1993-1994 would be Swindon's only season in the EPL. They finished in 22nd place (the EPL consisted of 22 teams for its first three seasons) with an incredible -53 goal differential. They also set a league record by conceding 100 goals.
Since then, Swindon Town have languished in the lower divisions and are currently sitting in second place of the League Two table.
In May of 2011, former Italian striker Paolo Di Canio became the team's new manager.
Oldham Athletic...pretty in pink?
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Oldham Athletic were founding members of the Premier League, but it's been 18 years since the club were at the top level.
In the league's inaugural season, Oldham finished level on points with Leicester City and only survived the drop due to a higher goal differential.
Unfortunately, the next season would be their last in the EPL. Oldham accumulated just 40 points and were relegated after finishing 21st.
Since 1997, Oldham have been up and down in the third tier of English football. They currently sit in 16th place in League One.
Barnsley fans are still hoping for a return to the EPL
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It's been 14 years since Barnsley spent their one season in England's top flight. The South Yorkshire team won automatic promotion to the Premier League in 1996-1997 after finishing second in Division One.
The Tykes found life in the EPL quite difficult and were relegated with just 35 points and a -45 goal differential.
Since then, Barnsley have spent time in the second and third tiers of the English leagues and are currently sitting in 14th place in the Championship.
Barnsley hold the record for the total number of seasons spent in England's second level of football with 70.
Forest players line up pre-game
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Nottingham Forest currently sit in a regulation spot of the Championship. During the Brian Clough era from 1975-1993, Forest experienced a number of successes. The club won four League Cups and consecutive promotions during the 1977-1978 and 1978-1979 seasons.
Forest's 16 year run of top flight football ended during the Premier League's inaugural season when they finished bottom of the table.
They bounced back the very next season with a second place Division One finish in May of 1994.
Three seasons later and Forest was relegated again.
Their last season back in the EPL followed their Division One title for the 1997-1998 season. Unfortunately for Forest fans, the club went from first to worst with a last place finish and another relegation from the Premier League following the 1998-1999 season.
They have not returned since.
Wimbledon FC in August 2000
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Wimbledon FC was a founding member of the English Premier League and were a part of the EPL for its first eight seasons. They were relegated at the end of the 1999-2000 campaign.
In June of 2003 Wimbledon FC went in to administration. The club was relocated to Milton Keynes and began the 2004-2005 season in League One with the new identity of MK Dons.
MK Dons are currently in fifth place in League One.
Back in Wimbledon, fans of the now relocated club founded AFC Wimbledon. Between 2002-2011, the club played Non-League football. They won promotion to the Football League at the end of last season.
AFC Wimbledon are currently in 15th place in League Two.
The Owls celebrate
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Sheffield Wednesday have a rich history and are the fourth oldest club in the English league.
The Owls were a top flight team throughout most of the 80's and 90's and were a founding member of the EPL. Wednesday remained a part of the Premier League through its first eight seasons.
The club's most successful EPL campaign was 1992-1993 as they made it to the finals of both the FA Cup and the League Cup. (They ultimately lost both finals to Arsenal). During the FA Cup semi-finals, Wednesday defeated their fiercest rivals Sheffield United 2-1.
In May of 2000 Wednesday was relegated to Division One. Since then they have bounced between England's second and third tiers of football. They are currently third in League One, just one point above crosstown Sheffield United.
Bradford City players and Billy Bantam the chicken
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It's been 11 years since the Premier League included Bradford City. Throughout most of the club's 108 years of existence they have played in the lower divisions of English football. The Bantam's won their only major trophy way back in 1911 when they lifted the FA Cup.
When Bradford City won promotion to the Premier League for the 1999-2000 season, it had been 77 years since the club had been in the top flight. Their stay at the top only lasted two years.
Bradford just avoided relegation in 2000 by finishing 17th and just three points above the drop.
The next season was even worse for the Bantams. The club accumulated just 26 points and were relegated after finishing bottom of the table.
Bradford City are currently fighting to avoid relegation from Division Two. Of all the former Premier League teams, Bradford are presently in the lowest position.
Coventry City fans cheer on the Sky Blues
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Between 1967 and 2001 Coventry City were a top flight team. This included the first nine seasons of the Premier League.
Despite the Sky Blues' long stretch in the highest division, the club's only major trophy was the 1987 FA Cup.
After 34 straight years in England's highest football league, Coventry finished the 2000-2001 campaign in 19th place and were relegated. At that time, only Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool had been in the top league longer than Coventry.
Since relegation Coventry has been in Division One/The Championship for 11 straight seasons. At the moment, they are dead last and fighting to avoid relegation to League One.
The Tractor Boys celebrate
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A decade has passed since The Tractor Boys of Ipswich Town were playing Premier League football.
The Suffolk based club have celebrated trophies several times during the team's existence. They were the Football League champions for the 1961-1962 season, won the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA cup in 1981.
Ipswich finished first in the old Division Two for the 1991-1992 season and were automatically promoted to the newly formed EPL.
The team experienced immediate success in the top flight and were in fourth place in January of 1993. Their form soon slipped and Ipswich ended the season in 16th place.
Ipswich's poor play continued into the 1993-1994 campaign. The club just survived relegation when Sheffield United lost in the last game of the season.
Luck ran out for Ipswich in May of 1995. A last place finish led to relegation back to Division One.
Five years later, The Tractor Boys were back in the top flight after winning promotion through the Division One Playoffs.
The club's second stay in the EPL came to an end in May of 2002. Since then, Ipswich have remained a part of England's second tier of football.
Ipswich are presently 19th in the Championship.
Leicester City players
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Leicester City had three spells in the EPL and have been absent from the top flight now for eight seasons.
The Foxes have won the Second Division title six times in their history and the League Cup three times. In the FA Cup, they are the Buffalo Bills of England having been to four finals and losing each one.
Leicester's first EPL campaign in 1994-1995 saw them finish second from the bottom and relegated back to Division One.
The club immediately bounced back and returned to the Premier League after just one season.
Between 1996 and 2002 Leicester were a mid-table EPL team. That run ended in May of 2002 as Leicester finished bottom of the table.
The Foxes again won promotion from the Championship after just one season and were back up top for the last time in 2003-2004.
Leicester currently sit 13th in the Championship.
Jermaine Beckford scores for Leeds versus Man United
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Leeds United's fall from the top flight was perhaps the most unexpected and dramatic of all the teams that have been relegated.
Prior to the formation of the Premier League, Leeds had won three First Division championships and were runners up for the title five times during the 60's and 70's. In fact, Leeds went in to the EPL's inaugural season as Champions having finished four points above second place Manchester United.
Leeds was a core member of the EPL through it's first 12 years. They finished as high as third for the 1999-2000 season. The club also participated in five UEFA Cup competitions and two Champions League tournaments. Leeds went as far as the semi-finals in May of 2001, losing 3-0 to eventual runners up Valencia.
Things went down hill for Leeds under the club's chairman Peter Risdale. Unable to pay back large loans, the club began to sell off star players and other assets during the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons. The teams' on field results soon suffered. The once proud franchise was relegated in May 2004 with a 19th place finish.
Further relegation followed for Leeds to League One in 2007. They were promoted back up to the Championship in 2010 and are currently in the 9th position. Just last week, Leeds fired manager Simon Grayson as the club fights to regain Premier League status.
Crystal Palace players salute their fans
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South London's Crystal Palace have been both promoted and relegated from the Premier League on four occasions. Each of Palace's four spells in the top flight lasted just one season.
The Eagles were a part of the Premier League when it launched in 1992-1993. They were relegated after finishing 20th.
One year later, Palace were crowned champions of Division One and were promoted back to the top flight.
The 1994-1995 campaign was the last season in which the EPL included 22 clubs. To prepare for a 20 team league, four sides were relegated rather than three. Palace landed in that extra relegation spot with a 19th place finish.
Two seasons later, Palace again won promotion to the Premier League. This time it was through the Division One playoffs
It was last place and relegation once again for Palace at the end of the 1997-1998 campaign.
Six seasons in Division One followed before the Eagles again won promotion in the 2004 division playoffs.
Again it was one and done for Palace. An 18th place position sent the club back down to the newly renamed Championship in May, 2005.
Seven years later and Crystal Palace remain a part of the Championship. The team currently sit 14th in the table.
Southampton team photo before the 2003 FA Cup Final
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When the EPL was formed, founding member Southampton had been in English football's highest league since 1978. The Saints remained a part of the Premier League for 13 straight seasons.
Southampton regularly finished in the second half of the table and their only true success was an appearance in the 2003 FA Cup final. The club were runners up to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium following a 1-0 defeat.
The Saints finished last for the 2004-2005 season and were relegated after 27 years in England's top flight.
Southampton are having a successful season in the Championship and are currently in second place fighting for promotion back to the EPL.