‘Only ONE team has ever gained promotion back to the top flight within three years of relegation as the Premier League’s bottom side, after failing at the first attempt.’
As the season closed out for Aston Villa and they finished up 13th in the Championship table, the echo of apologists to Steve Bruce’s failure got louder.
‘We were never going to get promoted in the first season, anyway’, became a view that was seen more and more frequently on social media. Whether it was fans being revisionist and conveniently covering Bruce’s tracks or not, it matched the sentiment of MOMS readers polled at the start of the season, a majority of 45.7% thought it would take Villa two seasons to get promoted, against 42.4% that thought they would bounce straight back.
The problem is history doesn’t support such reasoning.
Since the start of the Premier League, 35% of the teams finishing bottom of the league have managed to bounce straight back from the Championship the next season.
They were the lucky ones.
After a winless nine-game run at the start of 2017 there was a fear of Villa possibly joining the nine per cent of teams that suffered consecutive relegations after finishing bottom of the Premier League.
After avoiding that disaster though, the fact that Villa were below the average finish of 9th that the bottom Premier League team manages the following season in the Championship, is cause for concern.
Few would have predicted a lower half finish for Villa in the Championship, yet there surprisingly still seems to be an overall lack of concern and fear from supporters (and the local press) that Villa has transformed into an average Championship team.
It doesn’t matter how many supporters we take on our travels or if we beat the Blues 1-0 in a scrappy derby game, or even if people are giddy because they have an owner who speaks to them on Twitter, these are soggy comfort blankets to the fact that Villa are currently in a precarious position.
If there’s a fact that should wake such supporters up to the reality of the situation, it’s that only ONE team has ever gained promotion back to the top flight within three years of relegation as the Premier League’s bottom side, after failing at the first attempt.
That team was Sunderland, who finished 20th in the Premier League in 2002/03 but secured promotion two seasons on (2004/05).
That is one scary statistic and it’s no coincidence.
Buoyed by parachute payments, most relegated teams will invest in the first season after being relegated, while also maintaining some of their PL waged players, to have a crack at going straight back up. Failure to be one of the 35% of teams that do so, means a change of mindset in the following season.
First of all, FFP means you have to keep one eye on the possibility of missing out on promotion again and having to financially operate with diminishing income. Not only will parachute payments evaporate, sponsorship income potential will shrink, and supporter apathy will increasingly set in and hit the gate receipts and merchandise sales.
Key players that might be able to stomach one season in the Championship, will start to give their careers serious thought, as they become in danger of being classed as a ‘Championship standard player’ (for example, don’t expect James Chester or Jonathan Kodjia to start the 2018/19 season as a Championship player).
As financial spend is reined in and the team loses their better players, the prospect of promotion gets even tougher.
Villa’s situation isn’t as simple as having more time to sort out their promotion push, as there are too many shifting factors involved. If Villa spent a third season in the Championship, it would become increasingly harder to gain promotion than the upcoming second.
There’s only one rule of thumb when it comes to promotion to the Premier League – the sooner the better!
No More Excuses
Making excuses has become increasingly common place amongst the Villa faithful (and managers). After Villa finished on 17 points in the Premier League, some said it wasn’t possible to turn it around within one season due to the changes in ownership and management.
Yes, they were proven right, but Sunderland who in the 2005/06 season finished on a then record low 15 points, also had new owners the following summer and had a change of management after the season had commenced (from Niall Quinn to Roy Keane), but the Mackems still managed to win the Championship title at the first time of asking.
Next season, it’s time for Villa to have a ‘can do’ attitude, they need to finally ditch the ‘transitional season’ tag and bin all excuses to defy recent Premier League relegation history.
Check out the latest MOMS podcast episode below (new one incoming)