Bouncebackability – Which trends in English football were bucked, and who were the standout performers? 

Earlier on in the season, we analysed the trends of teams playing in new divisions across the English football pyramid, catch up here. Now the season has ended, has the 2023/24 season followed or gone against previous years?

In the past 20 seasons, clubs promoted into the Premier League have managed to avoid relegation 57% of the time. However, this season, all three newly promoted teams have been relegated back to the Championship in their first attempt. This is only the second time in Premier League history this has happened, with the first instance occurring in the 1997/98 season.

There has been a long-standing belief in the "magical" 40-point mark for safety in the Premier League. However, in recent years, it seems that this target is no longer as relevant, as 36 points have been enough to secure 17th place every year since the 2016/17 season. This season, Luton Town accumulated only 26 points, which is the lowest total for an 18th-placed team in Premier League history. Additionally, Nottingham Forest finished 17th with 29 points this season (although they had a 4-point deduction), a total that would have resulted in relegation in every season except for the COVID-affected 2020/21 season.

Relegated teams

Before this season, examining teams relegated from the Premier League, 20.63% were immediately promoted back automatically and 7.94% were playoff winners. This year we’ve seen Leicester City crowned champions bounce back in their first season and Southampton win the playoffs to return to the promised land following one season in the Championship.

In the Championship, Ipswich Town achieved back-to-back promotions from the third tier to the Premier League, joining a select group of teams. Since the 2002/03 season, only 3.17% of teams promoted from League One have been promoted again, making Ipswich's achievement remarkable.

Promoted teams

The league that offered the best chance of back-to-back promotions was League Two. 17% of teams promoted into the EFL had gone on to be promoted again in their first season. This year, Wrexham AFC finished 2nd and got automatically promoted to League One. Notts County’s 14th place finish means no team in the previous 20 seasons had been immediately relegated from League Two after promotion from the National League.

At the other end of League Two, Forest Green Rovers became only the 6th team since 2002/03 to be relegated back-to-back from League One to League Two and then out of the football league to the National League. This put them in the 6.02% of relegated teams from League One, however, they also matched the unwanted records of Luton Town, Stockport County and Chesterfield by finishing bottom of both divisions.

It is evident the threshold to stay in the Premier League is reducing, however, this is not necessarily making it easier for promoted teams to stay up, while the difference in quality in the lower leagues remains close enough that back-to-back promotions are achievable in multiple divisions.

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