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Fallen From Grace: The Big Clubs Who Faced The Drop

October 07, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Chelsea’s descent to the bottom half of the EPL table has been the major talking point so far this season, with the majority of pundits primed for the Londoner’s seemingly inevitable surge up the table. While we would all expect Chelsea to recover however, history tells us that not even the greatest superpowers in football are immune to the threat of relegation. Some of Europe’s most dominant teams have experienced this heartache in the last 20 years, while more are sure to follow in the next decade and beyond.

With plenty of shocks to choose from, here are three of Europe’s big boys who have slipped down the football pyramid…

Juventus, 2006

The decline of Juventus in the mid-noughties was as unique as it was incredible, as the club went from Serie A champions to relegation in just three months. Implicated in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal that tainted the Italian top flight and ended in humiliation for the Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, the Old Lady were stripped of their title and demoted to the second tier. Juventus overcame this and a nine-point deduction to return to the top-flight at the first attempt, and have reestablished themselves as the nation’s leading force once again.

Leeds United, 2004

Leeds United has a proud footballing history, with the 1970’s a particularly golden era that was laden with titles and success. The club looked set to emulate this success at the turn of the century, as chairman Peter Risdale and manager David O’Leary led Leeds to the promised land of the Champions League semi-finals in 2001. The club fell short of qualification for the competition a year later however despite heavy investment which ultimately ruined the club. Relegated in 2004 and stricken by administration in 2007, the club plumbed the depths of the third-tier before finally cementing a place in the Championship.

Atletico Madrid, 1999

It is fair to say that Atletico Madrid experienced a topsy-turvy decade during the 90’s, which started when the club were nearly relegated in 1995. Los Rojiblancos rebounded to win the league the following year, while also completing an impressive domestic double.  Despite this, a subsequently large investment failed to deliver a return, as numerous managerial changes and boardroom unrest resulted in the clubs’ relegation in 1999. While the club has recovered since and is a staple feature of the Champions League in the modern age, these days are dark reminders of how tenuous success can be.

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