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Can relegation ever be a good thing in football?

Can relegation ever be a good thing in football?
Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Ben Kelly
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The impact of relegation could go as far as to threaten the very existence of a club. But is it all bad news, or are there actually times when going down could be a good thing? In partnership with Media City Qatar.

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In the world of football, the word ‘relegation’ is dreaded by all.

If you're a fan of the sport, there's a good chance that you'll have seen your team locked in a battle at the bottom desperately trying to stay up, or even worse, suffering the very fact that sees them move into the division below.

Relegation almost definitely means less income for clubs, their top players deciding to leave, and less supporters attending games.

"Well, being relegated is the biggest blow any club can get,” explained Manuel Terradillos, journalist for Euronews Español.

“It's worse than losing any final, and it hits the club in two different ways. First of all, you won't be competing against the best in the country anymore. We've seen it happening to be collapsing Europe like Juventus, like Atlético Madrid. And then you have the second side, the economic side, the fact that you will lose money in terms of sponsors to win money, in terms of TV, broadcasting rights and all these two things will combine and make it difficult for any club, even if you are a really good club, to go back to the first division next year."

Martin Meissner/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
Relegation is a disaster for football clubsMartin Meissner/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.

Despite all of this, there are times when relegation could be considered a good thing. The Burnley Football Club story is a prime example. The Premier League side was relegated to the second division of English football just last year after being in the top tier since 2016. Burnley was known for its physical style of play under Sean Dyche's stewardship. However, all of that changed when Dyche was sacked, and ex-Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany was appointed as the new manager. Kompany had mixed managerial success in his first coaching role at Anderlecht in Belgium, but one year later, Burnley look a totally unrecognisable side to the one in the Premier League all thos years, and the fans are reaping the benefits.

"Look, we just had to get a complete reset in this football club and for us, fortunately it's completely worked out, so we are enjoying it,” revealed Liam Waddington, Burnley fan and YouTube content creator.

Jon Super/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Burnley have been transformed under KompanyJon Super/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

“Going to games has been so enjoyable. In the Premier League got boring. It got really boring because you knew exactly what every game would be like. You know, the line up for every Sean Dyche team would be the exact same. So as a fan base and as a community, really, you know, we’re reaping the rewards of our current situation and the way that we're doing things. It's giving us real hope that next year, when we’re back in the Premier League, it should be a new experience and it brings new life into the club."

There have been some famous examples of some of the world’s biggest clubs suffering the drop. Italian giants Juventus suffered relegation after being found guilty of match-fixing. They were stripped of two serious titles and relegated to Serie B.

In Germany, Schalke 04's fanatical supporters had to deal with the heartbreak of relegation. The 2021 relegation came ten years after the Gelsenkirchen side made the Champions League semifinal.

This season, it’s Valencia, one of Spain's most famous clubs and arguably the biggest outside of Barcelona, Atlético, and Real Madrid, who could be shock relegation victims. The club currently finds itself languishing towards the bottom of the table. Relegation for a club of Valencia's stature could prove catastrophic.

“We're speaking about a club that won titles in the past that even played a Champions League final just over 20 years ago,” continued Terradillos.

Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Valencia's Mestalla stadiumEmilio Morenatti/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

“They are currently going through a difficult situation. Supporters are not happy with the performance of the team. They are even facing some economic troubles and all the supporters are not happy at all with the management. So, relegation will amplify all these troubles that they are going through. The impact, in my opinion, will be bigger than in any other given club. So if Valencia is finally relegated, they will have a really turbulent summer.”

Relegation is clearly something to be afraid of football clubs, but in rare cases, it can turn out to be a blessing, not a curse. It will be interesting to see if Burnley can maintain their rejuvinated form upon their promotion back to the Premier League, and whether Valencia can save themselves from the dreaded drop this season.

Journalist • Ben Kelly

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