Premier League Yo-Yo Sides

As the latest season of English football draws to a close, we already know that Leicester will be going up from the Championship to the PL and Sheffield United will be going down the other way. There is a very small chance that Leeds and Southampton will join the Foxes, and a larger chance that Luton and Burnley will head the same way as the Blades.

If that does happen, then all three of the promoted sides from last season will have been relegated, whilst all three of the demoted clubs will have bounced straight back. This all relies on a fairly unlikely series of results but if it does occur then 2023/24 will have to go down as the ultimate yo-yo campaign in the top two tiers of English football.

When we talk about Premier League yo-yo teams, we are referring to ones which seem to bounce up and down between the top two divisions. Not quite good enough to survive for long in the mega-rich PL, they are often too strong for the Championship, aided and abetted by the generous parachute payments clubs exiting the top tier receive. Since the PL began back in the 1992/93 campaign we have seen several teams fall into this category. Let’s take a look at the biggest yo-yo clubs the Premier League has ever seen!

Norwich – 6 Separate Spells in the PL

Norwich City FCThe Canaries can make a very decent claim to being the Premier League’s best (or worst if you prefer) yo-yo side. They have had six different spells in the Premier League and, currently in the Championship, have been relegated from the rebranded top flight a record six times.

The Norfolk outfit were founder members of the new league in 1992/93 but sadly for them, things have been all downhill since… well, at least half the time. They finished third back then, challenging for the title until a very poor run in April where they collected just three points from 12. That is their highest-ever league finish but following the 1994/95 campaign they were relegated.

They then spent one season in the PL in 2004/05 but, via the third tier in 2009/10 were back in the Premier League for the 2011/12 campaign. They lasted three seasons but were relegated in 2014, bouncing straight back up in 2015… and then straight back down in May 2016. Much like a yo-yo!

They won the Championship title in 2018/19 but finished bottom of the Premier League in 2019/20, a trick they repeated exactly in the next two seasons! They couldn’t rebound in 2022/23 or this season but don’t be surprised to see them in the mix for promotion in 2024/25!

Leicester – 5 Separate Spells in the PL

Leicester City FCIncluding 2024/25, given the Foxes have won promotion at the time of writing in 2023/24, Leicester will be on their fifth spell in the Premier League. Their yo-yoing has been less dramatic and marked than Norwich but even so, they have bounced up and down the divisions far more than their fans would have liked.

The East Midlands side first played in the rebranded top tier for a single season in 1994/95. They went down but came up at the first attempt in 1996/97 and then enjoyed something of a golden era, staying in the top flight until relegation at the end of the 2001/02 campaign and winning the League Cup twice.

Some serious yo-yo action followed, with relegation in 2002, promotion in 2003 and then demotion again the following year. Like Norwich, they also spent time in the third tier before making it back into the PL for the 2014/15 season. The following season they somehow won the top-flight title and when they added an FA Cup in 2020/21 fans must have been dreaming big.

They shouldn’t have been though, as the Foxes were relegated to the Championship after the 2022/23 campaign. As said, they have bounced straight back though, as title winners, and so will look forward to another crack at the PL in 2024/25.

West Brom – 5 Separate Spells in the PL

West Bromwich AlbionThe Baggies were also founder members of the Football League and made their PL bow in 2002. They were relegated straight away, bounced back up at the first attempt, then had two seasons in the top flight, two seasons in the Championship, one in the Premier League, one in the Championship and then returned to the PL in 2010/11. As such, between 2001/02 and 2010/11 they changed division seven times!

They survived in the top flight until 2018 when a bit more yo-yoing saw them relegated that year but promoted again two seasons later. Sadly their last spell with the big boys lasted just 38 games.

Crystal Palace – 5 Separate Spells in the PL

Crystal Palace FCPalace are another team to have been in the top flight on five separate occasions, this current one by far the longest having started in 2013/14. They also enjoyed PL status in 2004/05, 1997/98, 1994/95 and 1992/93, making them perhaps the original Premier League yo-yo club. Eagles fans will hope those days are a thing of the past.

Burnley – 4 Separate Spells in the PL

Burnley FCBurnley were founder members of the Football League in the late 19th century but did not enter the Premier League fray until 2009/10. That stay lasted just 38 games, as did their one in 2014/15, though they bounced straight back to claim top-flight status again for the 2016/17 season.

They then cemented their place as a PL side until relegation in May 2022, but stormed to the Championship title 12 months on. At the time of writing they are 19th in the Premier League table with three games to go so time will tell if they continue their boinging around the divisions!

Sunderland – 4 Separate Spells in the PL

Sunderland FC logoThe Black Cats are another side to have hopped between the divisions and another to have dropped to the third tier, doing so in 2018/19 just two seasons after their longest stay in the PL. They first played in the Premier League in 1996/97, lasting just a single season. They were back in the promised land between 1999/2000 and 2002/03, collecting a meagre 19 points in the year they went down again.

They then had another single-season stint with the top clubs in 2005/06 and outdid even their own horrific performance, mustering just 15 points. They bounced straight back to win the Championship the following season before a decent stay until relegation after the 2016/17 campaign (with a highly respectable – by their standards – 24 points).