Seasons in English Top Flight

There’s more at stake this season than Aston Villa just staying in the Premier League in the here and now. In a historical context, Villa have a top tier reputation to maintain, a status which took a denting after recently spending three seasons in the Championship. Before their relegation in the 2015/16 season Villa were clearly the second most present side in the English top flight.

History has tended to favour Aston Villa, when you look back over the record books. Liverpool may have been recently crowded European Champions last season and Premier League Champions this season, but Villa have played in more top tier seasons.

Of course, Villa had a head start in terms of their year of formation – 1874 to 1892, but still you have to stay on the wicket to bat, so to speak, and Villa have been a top tier team for 88% of their existence, since the league season of 1888-89.

Relegation this season for the club though, would see Liverpool arrive on level terms, with another extended period in the Championship for Villa, seeing them relinquish second spot to the Merseyside club, whose rivals Everton currently have top spot in the table.

Back Where They Belong?

The seasons in the top tier table below is of extra interest when considering clubs that feel they belong in the top tier. The Top 20 all-time top tier of English football clubs only has 12 teams in the current Premier League top tier.

A number that will remain or increase next season depending on West Brom confirming promotion and the destiny of Villa’s relegation battle.

You could argue only eight teams outside the current Premier League have legitimate claims to ‘belonging’ in the division, when you consider the history of top tier football.

Surely those eight clubs must include Leeds United, who will return to the top tier next season?

Well, no. Leeds United in their 101 season history have spend over half of their time outside England’s top flight and rank 25th in terms of most seasons in the English top division. It is actually the two Sheffield clubs that have been Yorkshire’s most frequent representation at the top table of English football.

The eight clubs that if they were promoted could can claim to historically belong in the current English top tier would be:

Sunderland, West Brom, Bolton, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Stoke City and Middlesborough.

Aston Villa of course should be in the Premier League, but historical nepotism counts for nothing this week, when they must get points from two of the top 20 all-time top tier teams to make sure they stay where they belong.

UTV

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Total Number of Seasons spent in Top Flight of English Football

Based on 121 seasons from 1888-89 to 2019-20.

* denotes currently in the Premier League

  1. Everton – 117*
  2. Aston Villa – 106* – 88%
  3. Liverpool – 105*
  4. Arsenal – 103*
  5. Manchester United – 95*
  6. Manchester City – 91*
  7. Newcastle United – 88*
  8. Sunderland – 86
  9. Chelsea – 85*
  10. Tottenham Hotspur – 85*
  11. West Bromwich Albion – 81
  12. Bolton Wanderers – 73
  13. Blackburn Rovers – 72
  14. Sheffield Wednesday – 66
  15. Wolves – 65*
  16. Derby County – 65
  17. West Ham United – 62*
  18. Stoke City – 62
  19. Sheffield United – 61*
  20. Middlesborough – 61

Notable Outsiders:

21. Burnley – 57*

22. Birmingham City – 57

23. Nottingham Forest – 56

24. Leicester City – 53*

25. Leeds United – 50

27. Southampton – 41*

36. Norwich City – 26*

39. Crystal Palace – 20*

43. Watford – 13*

50. Brighton – 7*

54. AFC Bournemouth – 5*

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