The Regular ‘Yo-yo’ Teams in the Premier League

8 Min Read
Premier League

Several Premier League clubs have been relegated and promoted almost instantly more frequently than the others.

Competing in the Premier League has always been the major goal for all English teams, including those from the lower tier. Some managed to gain promotion and stay in the top flight for years. Yet, some others have to go down and bounce back to promotion several times. Such led to the emergence of the ‘yo-yo team’ term.

Since the inaugural season of the Premier League, several teams have been nicknamed such by the fans. In the 2023–24 campaign, Leicester and Southampton could be the next ones on the list, should they not be able to stay in the EPL. Staying in the top division is never easy. The Foxes and Soton, which sealed their return to the top flight last season, know well how tough it is to do so. They had been in the first tier for years before suffering their last relegation in 2022. The former might have a better squad to survive, but the latter would have to struggle to avoid the ‘yo-yo’ period next season. Otherwise, Southampton tickets would no longer be in high demand. Meanwhile, other clubs like Burnley have been entering their ‘yo-yo era as they were relegated twice in two years and promoted once in between. They are not yet to be called the regular ‘yo-yo’ team unless such a trend carries on.

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Here are the regular ‘yo-yo’ teams, which have a high record of going down and up between the Premier League and Championship over and over again within a short period.

Crystal Palace

The Palace is one of the earliest ‘yo-yo’ teams in the Premier League era. They first gained promotion in 1993 but then went down to the second tier in 1995, despite finishing 19th out of 22 teams with 45 points, which was the highest record in point collection for relegated sides. It was because the EPL decided to reduce the number of teams in the top flight from 22 to 20 clubs.

Crystal Palace returned to the top division in 1997 but went down again in 1998. The team, which used to share their home ground with Wimbledon FC back in the 1990s, secured another promotion in 2004 before once again slumping to another relegation a year later. They just bounced back in 2013, when Ian Holloway was in charge.

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Two notable managers involved in that ‘yo-yo’ tenure were Alan Smith from 1993 to 1995 and the former player, Ian Dowie, who was in charge of the team from 2003 to 2006. Some of their players who went through such uncertain times were the former England goalie in the 1990s, Nigel Martyn, the former Wales boss in EURO 2016, Chris Coleman, and the current England manager, Gareth Southgate.


Watford was once a ‘yo-yo’ club in two spells, in the 2000s and almost recently. In 2000, they were relegated just one year after getting promoted in 1999. Watford then returned to the top flight in 2006 before going down again in 2007. After a while, the Hornets finally made their way back in 2015 and even reached the FA Cup final four years later before their lacklustre form against Manchester City. It was an uneven game and they were hammered 6-0. 

One Watford manager who was at the helm of the team during the promotion and relegation era was Aidy Boothroyd. The former England youth head coach was leading the Hornets from 2005 to 2008. He had some notable players in the squad when they gained promotion in 2006. England international Ashley Young and veteran striker Les Ferdinand were some of them.


Another early ‘yo-yo’ team in the Premier League was Sunderland. The Black Cats first gained promotion in the EPL era back in 1996, but were soon relegated in the following season. They once again bounced back in 1999 before falling to the second tier in 2003 and another one in 2006. Sunderland’s promotion years were in 2005 and 2007, during which they managed to stay in the top tier until 2017.

Sunderland had two experienced bosses who had gone through such a turbulent period: Peter Reid, who once was at the helm of the Thailand national team, and former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, who won the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, the notable players in Sunderland’s yo-yo era were the towering Irish striker, Niall Quinn, and two ex-Ireland internationals, Gary Breen and Daryl Murphy.

West Bromwich

The Baggies are one of the Premier League clubs with the most frequent promotion-relegation record. They have been promoted and relegated five times each during the EPL era. They went up to the top tier in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2020, whereas their dismal campaigns leading to the championship were in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2018, and 2021. 

WBA had three managers who have experienced such ups and downs. Gary Megson was the first. He took charge of the Baggies from 2000 to 2004. Next, there was the ex-Celtic boss, Tony Mowbray, who was at the helm of the team from 2006 to 2009, and the Italian boss who then helped Chelsea win their first Champions League title, Roberto Di Matteo. The former midfielder was leading Chris Brunt and Co. back to the EPL in 2010. 


The Cottagers are the next most frequent yo-yo side. Surprisingly, they have been tagged with such status since a couple of years ago. Fulham gained promotion to the top flight four times: in 2001, 2018, 2020, and 2022, whereas their relegation years were in 2014, 2019, and 2021.

One of their managers who has gone through such unfortunate times was the former England international, Scott Parker. He was in charge of the team from 2019 to 2021. The most notable figure in his team was Serbian international forward Alexander Mitrovic. His goals helped their campaign back to the Premier League in 2020–21. 

Norwich City

Finally, there is no other team in England that has the most frequent promotion-relegation phase as Norwich City. They have been promoted six times and relegated seven times. The Canaries went down in 1995, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2020, and 2022, and bounced back in 2004, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2021. They have even been tipped as ‘the perennial yo-yo club.

Norwich had two managers who had experience switching between the top two divisions instantly: Alex Neil (2015–2017) and the current Leeds United boss, Daniel Farke. The German boss was at the helm of the team from 2017 to 2021.