Football's 5 Most Shocking Relegations


In English football there's a popular saying that a particular side is "too big to go down". This is often uttered by fans or commentators when a club runs into a horrific run of form and is teetering on the edge of the dreaded 'drop zone'.
If football history has taught us anything though, even the mighty can fall. The following are five big clubs that for one reason or another plummeted into their country's second tier.

River Plate - 2010/2011


Anyone with a passing knowledge of club football could probably tell you that the two biggest clubs in Argentina are Boca Juniors and their bitter rivals River Plate. What a lot of people that don't follow the Primera División know though is that River Plate, after suffering through a financial crisis that left the Buenos Aires club over $75 million in debt, were dumped into the Primera B Nacional after finishing at the bottom of the top division and then losing a two-legged playoff against promotion hopefuls Belgrano de Córdoba at the end of the 2011 season. River bounced back from this catastrophe by winning the Primera B Nacional title the following season. They have since captured their record 36th Primera División title in 2014 to reestablish themselves as one of Argentina's top sides.

Juventus - 2005/2006


One of Italy's biggest sides, with a team packed with stars like Alessandro Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pavel Nedved, Juventus romped to their 20th league title in 2005/2006. However, before they could uncork the champagne, the club was sensationally embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in the history of Italian football. Found guilty of influencing refereeing appointments, as part of the Calciopoli scandal, the club was dumped into Serie B for the 2006/2007 season. They were also stripped of two Serie A titles. Juventus would return to the top division after one season and eventually reassert themselves as one of Italy's giants.

Manchester United - 1973/1974


Six years earlier Manchester United had won the biggest prize in European club football after defeating Benfica 4-1 on a marvelous night at Wembley Stadium, but following manager Sir Matt Busby's retirement in 1969 the club began to gradually slide down the table. However, a club the size of United would never have expected relegation. In 1973-1974, following the mercurial George Best exiting the club on New Year's Day, and an awful start to the season that they never recovered from, United were dumped out of the old First Division after 29 seasons. The fact that Manchester City, and former United hero Denis Law, drove the final nail into their coffin didn't help matters. United would rebound to win the Second Division in 1974/1975 and reestablish themselves in the top tier. It would take nearly another twenty years though before the Red Devils would win another league title.

Corinthians - 2006/2007


In an effort to bring in significant investment, Corinthians signed a lucrative deal with Media Sports Investments in 2005 that allowed them to splash the cash on players like Carlos Tevez. Within two years though the money had run out and they were forced to sell off many of their top players and were thrown into a relegation battle. Needing to beat Gremio on the last day of the 2006/2007 season, Corinthians could only draw and were dumped into the second tier for first time in their illustrious history. It took two seasons for Corinthians to return to the top flight, but by 2011 they had reasserted themselves as one of Brazil's best, by winning the Serie A title and then following it up with a win in the 2012 Copa Libertadores over Boca Juniors in the final.

Leeds United - 2003/2004


The phrase "living the dream" has often been attached to the chairmanship of Leeds United's Peter Ridsdale, whose financial ambition had helped build a side that made it all the way to the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final in 2000/2001. The club invested heavily, bringing in players such as Mark Viduka, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler and Robbie Keane as they pushed for honours, but after two successive failures to reach the Champions League the club struggled to pay the bills and the squad was eventually broken up. Relegation followed in 2004 and after a few seasons in the Championship, the club eventually sank into the third tier of English football. The former Yorkshire giants, now in the second tier again, are yet to return to the Premier League after eleven long years.
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