Whatever happened to these Premier League big boys?

As much as I would’ve loved to have grown up in 1960s and 1970s, where I would’ve experienced England’s World Cup victory and seen the likes of Stan Bowles and George Best play live, rather than through the video archives – I have been quite lucky. Being born in the middle of the Eighties, I have vague memories of Italia ’90 but was old enough to see the formation the English Premier League in 1992. Since then there have been 44 teams that have competed in the top league but what happened to the teams that made up the Premier League back in the Nineties? Join me as I go club-by-club through the teams that have faded away from the top flight…

Norwich City

The Canaries provided a shock in the first Premier League season of 1992/93 by finishing 3rd. City were considered favourites for relegation at the start of the season but surprisingly led the league for the most part before dropping points toward the end of the season that let Manchester United and Aston Villa take 1st and 2nd spot. Finishing 3rd saw qualification to the UEFA Cup the following year which saw them defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Germany which was one of the biggest shocks of the Nineties in Europe. However, the club were relegated two seasons later after the departure of manager Mike Walker to Everton, but City managed one season back in the Premier League in 2004-2005 season but were relegated back to the Football League. Since then, the club suffered further relegation to the 3rd tier of English football but achieved promotion within one season. The club are currently 5th in the Championship table and are outside favourites for promotion back to the Prem under Paul Lambert.

Queens Park Rangers

Much like Norwich, Rangers also impressed during the first Premier League season by finishing 5th which saw them the highest placed London club over the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. Despite finishing in the top half of the table the following season, the club never recovered from the departure of manager Gerry Francis to Spurs and failed to replace striker Les Ferdinand. They were relegated from the Premier League in the 1995/96 season and suffered a further relegation to the 3rd tier of League football in 2001, which also saw the club in financial crisis. Under the leadership of Ian Holloway, QPR spent 3 seasons before returning to the Championship. Today, the West London club sit at the top of the table with promotion to the Premier League looking like a real possibility.

Sheffield Wednesday

The Owls enjoyed 8 seasons in the Premier League before being relegated in the 1999-2000 season. They finished 7th on three occasions during this time as well finishing runners-up in the League and FA Cup during the 1992-93 season losing in both finals to Arsenal. Wednesday had a high calibre of players during this time with the likes of Chris Waddle, Dejan Stefanovic, Paulo Di Canio, Benito Carbone and Wim Jonk, but it was their high wage bill that caused financial trouble on the club and led to their relegation from the league. Since then the Owls suffered relegation to the third tier but were able to gain promotion back to the Championship, however they were relegated back to League One last season where they currently sit in a disappointing 16th place.

Wimbledon

The miracle club from South London spent several seasons in the Premier League before relegation in the 1999-2000 season which played a part in the demise of the club itself. Despite enjoying a 14 year stint in the top flight from 1986, their Premier League experience was under the management of Joe Kinnear with their best achievement finishing 6th in the 1993/94 season. Unfortunately after the club was relegated a proposed relocation to Milton Keynes was materialised despite strong opposition from Dons fans and the football world as a whole. The club were re-named Milton Keynes Dons whilst die-hard supporters formed a new club in AFC Wimbledon which saw the club stay in the South London area. AFC Wimbledon are now one league away from the Football League after achieving three promotions through the Non-League pyramid. Whilst MK Dons are currently 6th in League One.

Coventry City

The Sky Blues enjoyed 34 years in the top flight before relegation in 2000/2001 season. Despite this record their time in the Premier League was full of mid and lower half of the table finishes, as well as several relegation battles. Since their Premier League departure the club has spent a decade in The Championship and in 2005, left their 106 year old home at Highfield Road to a new 32,000 Ricoh Arena, which is one of the better new grounds in football. City are currently 18th in the Championship table and could be dragged into a relegation battle to League One.

Other clubs

Younger readers may be surprised to know that Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town, Barnsley, Watford and Bradford City were all part of the Premier League at some point during the 1990’s although their time in the top flight was brief. I shall be re-visiting this topic focusing on other clubs, most notably the likes of Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, along with Southampton, Charlton Athletic and Leicester City.

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