English Premier League Preview: Meet Your… Relegation Fighters

Everyone’s favorite fictional philosopher, Rust Cohle, once said, “Time is a flat circle”. This is all too prevalent for Premier League teams that are relegated. More often than not, at least one team who gains promotion is immediately relegated back down to the Championship division. Whether it be financial limitations or simply just crap players, I believe these are the teams most likely to struggle to stay in the EPL going forward. I am not included a section on where to watch these teams in Chicago, because let’s face it, they’re not going to be on national TV.

Location: Burnley
Stadium (capacity): Turf Moor (22,546)
Nickname: The Clarets
Last EPL title: none (Division 1 title in 1959-1960)
Biggest Rival: Blackburn Rovers
History: In 2009, Burnley ended a 33 year drought of not playing in England’s top soccer division when they achieved promotion. Though the drought ended, they were promptly relegated but are making yet another return to the EPL. Probably the most surprising of the promoted teams, Burnley looks to avoid another immediate relegation. They are only one of three teams to have won all top four professional divisions of English soccer.
You may like Burnley if… you were a Montreal Expos fan. Both teams are playing (or played) in a league where they didn’t quite belong and their stays were cut short. Leave it to the French-Canadians to ruin baseball.

Crystal Palace
Location: South London
Stadium (capacity): Selhurst Park (26,255)
Nicknames: Eagles, Glaziers
Last EPL title: none (third place in 1991)
Biggest Rivals: Brighton and Hove Albion, Millwall
History: Being that Crystal Palace finished fifth but still gained promotion into the EPL two years ago, Crystal Palace managed to turn heads last year by finishing 11th. Crystal Palace is another club that perpetually flounders around the various tiers of English soccer. Though they have been predominately within the first two tiers of English Soccer, Crystal Palace’s lack of resources and inability to crack a larger fan base in London has hindered any long-term stays in the EPL.
You may like if Crystal Palace… any kind Tampa Bay fan. With the exception of a few sprinkled moments in the sun, Tampa Bay sports teams are mostly crap. Unenthused fan bases have hindered Tampa teams from increasing ownership pocket books and providing sustained success. Both Crystal Palace and Tampa cannot break through ceiling of being second-tier quality in their respective geographies.

Hull City
Location: Kingston upon Hull
Stadium (capacity): KC Stadium (25,400)
Nickname: The Tigers
Last EPL title: none
Biggest Rival: Leeds United
History: Hull City is a team who hasn't had any tangible success to show over the years outside of claiming the title of runners-up in last year’s FA Cup. Hull has spent a majority of its life switching between the third and fourth tiers in England. In 2014-2015, Hull will compete in the Europa League, as well, for their finish in the FA Cup.
You may like Hull City if… you liked the 2000s Detroit Tigers. These are sets of teams with little hope to go off of with lingered moral victories. Kingston upon Hull and Detroit aren't exactly road trip stops either. Oh, and you know, they’re both called the Tigers.

Leicester City
Location: Leicester
Stadium (capacity): King Power Stadium (32,262)
Nickname: The Foxes
Last EPL title: none (runners-up in 1928-1929)
Biggest Rival: Nottingham Forest
History: Leicester City is making its return to the EPL after a ten year hiatus. They were the champions of the League Championship division last year, gaining them automatic promotion to the EPL. The club has seen an increase in success Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took the team over in 2010. Look for Leicester to be the “kid-with-a-new-rich-uncle” contender in years to come.
You may like if Leicester City if… like the Brooklyn Nets. With the combination of very marginal success and stupid-rich owners taking over the team at the turn of the decade, the Nets and Foxes make a pretty cute couple. Both teams have had brief brushes with championship opportunities in the past but, for the most part, have been underwhelming franchises.

Queens Park Rangers
Location: West London
Stadium (capacity): Loftus Road (18,489)
Nicknames: The Hoops, The R’s
Last EPL title: none (runners-up in 1975-1976)
Biggest Rivals: Chelsea, Fulham
History: QPR is back after a one year hiatus. But out of all the relegation fighters, QPR is loaded with the most talent, washed-up or otherwise. QPR is another team that has seen an influx of Asian-based money but has failed to identify the line between over-bearing ownership and sane soccer management. They follow the trend of other low-level EPL teams in respect to its inconsistency to stay in the EPL for a given amount of time.
You may like QPR if… you like the Florida Panthers. Both teams have the exceptional taste or signing players past their prime for way too much money (Dave Bolland, meet Rio Ferdinand). It appears the only purpose QPR and the Panthers serve is to provide retirement benefits for players who no one really wants. They’re very much the Islands of (really rich) Misfit Toys.

Swansea City
Location: Swansea, Wales.
Stadium (capacity): Liberty Stadium (20,750)
Nickname: The Swans
Last EPL title: none
Biggest Rival: Cardiff City
History: Swansea has the uncanny ability to hang out in the fourth tier of English soccer just before making a meteoric rise into the EPL. They’ve accomplished this feat twice, once in the 80s and once just at the turn of the millennium. Swansea is now the only team from Wales in the EPL after their fallen brother, Cardiff City, was relegated at the end of last season.
You may like if Swansea City… you like the Toronto Raptors. It can be hard being the only team outside of the league’s home country. Both the Raptors and Swans know this. Lackluster seasons and somewhat blasé fan bases are results of being the international child of the league.

West Bromwich Albion
Location: West Bromwich
Stadium (capacity): The Hawthorns (26,445)
Nickname: The Baggies
Last EPL title: none (Division 1 Title in 1919-1920)
Biggest Rival: Aston Villa
History: West Brom is one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888. They have spent most of their time in the top tier of English soccer but have found it difficult to stay in over the past few decades. It’s speculated that their nickname stems from the supporters baggy pants worn to protect themselves from iron in the factories in the part of the country.
You may like if West Bromwich Albion if… you like the Baltimore Orioles. To be blunt, I chose this mostly because of the ornithological connection between the two. They are more loosely tied by being a secondary team in their respective geographies saturated with better teams (Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, Aston Villa in the Midlands).

Filed under: EPL Soccer

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