Football’s beauty is its unpredictability. You may think that the clubs with a hundred-year history will perform at the highest level forever, but at one moment they ingloriously leave the elite. Football Geeks checked the five biggest European football leagues and found the small group of clubs that have never been relegated from a top division in their entire history. How many English clubs are there? Do not forget to click the subscribe button and let’s kick off.
The undisputed leader among the highest number of unrelegated teams is La Liga. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao are the only clubs that have never suffered relegation since the inception of Spanish Primera División in 1929. You may have expected the first two clubs in our episode, but Athletic Bilbao is a unique example in football history. There were long-forgotten times when Bilbao ruled La Liga, but there were also drastic periods when the club stopped within an ace of relegation. Nevertheless, Athletic remains a member of a very small group of clubs, not only in Spain, but throughout Europe.
Inter Milan is the only remaining club in Serie A that has been playing in the top division for over a hundred years. Some of you may wonder right now, how did the other two giants of Italian football, Milan and Juventus, drop from this list. Well, these clubs would be still present in never-relegated list, but in due time their management decided to break the rules. And the punishment was severe – relegation from the top division. In 1980, the Rome police department uncovered a system of match-fixing and underground stakes, which permeated the entire Serie A. One of the main defendants of this hard-hitting case was A.C. Milan. In result, the third-place winners of that Serie A draw were exiled to lower division. Two decades later, in 2006, a similar punishment overtook Juventus. As it turned out, the management of the The Old Lady, during the two “golden” seasons, sought to appoint the favorable referees for league matches by using various illegal methods. The punishment for the all involved parties was cruel, but fair: Juventus lost gold medals for winning Serie A in 2005 and 2006. They were also relegated to Serie B, in which they started with 7 points taken, while the first three home matches were played at empty stadium.
Sounds hard to believe, but there is no team left in England that has managed to play in the top division since the founding of The Football League in 1888. Moreover, the history of British football has a case when a team with a best attacking line in the league has faced relegation. In 1938, Manchester City was dropped from the top division while scoring 80 goals in one season. Finally, it would be fair to mention the Premier League, which was founded only in 1992. Today, only six out of twenty-two founding clubs of the Premier League have played in it since its inception: Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton. Before its transformation into a top side, Manchester City have been relegated twice.
In the same way as England, France and Germany do not have clubs that would never feel the bitterness of being relegated. However, Germany joined this list only in 2018, when Hamburg flew out of the Bundesliga. Yes, you did hear it right. This is not Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. Hamburg was the club that stood at the origins of German football league, and until 2018, The Dinosaurs had never left the top division.
If we look at smaller European leagues, there, as a rule, local top clubs have always remained in top division. In Scotland, the recent bankruptcy of Rangers left among the unrelegated sides only two teams – Celtic and Aberdeen. In Portugal, there has always been a big three in the top, namely, Porto, Sporting, and Benfica. The same number of lucky teams are in Turkey, Фенербахче́, Галатасара́й, and Бешикта́ш, and in Greece – Олимпиако́с, Панатинáикос, and PAOK. Finally, the Netherlands can boast of four never-relegated clubs – Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord, and Utrecht.