The Relegation Zone
March 30, 2012 9:15 PM   Subscribe

When an English Premier League team gets relegated down, what does that actually mean to the players, coaches, and fans. Do salaries plummet? Contracts expire? Do top players get recruited back up? For fans is it easier/cheaper to get tickets? What is the impact?
posted by ecorrocio to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Clubs may reduce prices and tickets get easier to come by due to on average lower overall attendances, but there's not set formula for how different clubs deal with it AFAIK.
One thing that does happen is that relegated sides get the so-called 'parachute payment' to ease the transition into lower earnings, though sometimes that's not enough to counter the combination of lost revenue and players on big contracts, hence the occasional free-fall of former giants down the divisions.
posted by Abiezer at 10:09 PM on March 30, 2012

One of the big problems of relegation is "doing a Leeds". where the club spends money expecting to stay in the Premier League, with all the contracts and revenue, and then suffer a financial meltdown when they go down. Leeds is rebuilding. (I support Sheffield Wednesday who are finally (hopefully) crawling out of this hole created by Sr Dave Richards.)

Managers and coaches are often sacked, but it's also getting pretty ridiculous how often and easily managers are sacked. It's much easier to get rid of them than the complete squad. There are some managers who hover in that area of relegation and promotion (Neil Warnock, is a good example), some are given time, but usually relegation is a good time to change course.

It's quite common for players to have transfer clauses in their contract if their clubs go down. Clubs will often have to sell players to keep afloat. (Look at what Birmingham did during the August transfer window.) The players left on contract will still be paid, but it can be a hardship for the club and unsustainable. Once you go down it's harder to recruit top players, as the Championship or League One don't have the same allure of the Champions League. (What? You don't care that the Spireites won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy? Neither do most footballers.) You get a lot more younger players, older players on the down turn, and the odd high risk player like El Hadji Diouf.

As for tickets, the prices do tend to be cheaper but that's not necessarily always the case. Last year the BBC published a survey on the price of football, where they tracked how much a day out for two would cost. Ticket prices really fluctuate from club to club and from league to league. The Guardian's David Conn has also covered the topic.
posted by kendrak at 11:36 PM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

In my experience, ticket prices don't change much, with the exception of incentives offered to season ticket holders. That's partly because the clubs that go down don't tend to charge anywhere near as much as the top teams in the Premier League to begin with.

The parachute payments go some way towards helping clubs for the first year of relegation, just about: some players may leave in search of top-flight football, which lessens the wage bill.

If a team doesn't get promoted at its first attempt, austerity definitely starts to kick in, and it becomes harder to retain players, or bring in ones who'll play in the lower tier. Existing contracts have to be honoured unless a player can be sold on; many talented products of the youth system have to be treated as potential money-making assets when the transfer window opens, even though they're usually cheaper to keep on the books. The squad that's been assembled for Premier League matches may not adapt well to the lower leagues, where the fixture list is larger and physicality often counts for more than skilfulness on the ball. If your manager is any good, he becomes a target when the inevitable top-league sackings come around. Attendances drop because the part-timers who show up for the big teams won't fancy a wet Tuesday in February against Watford.

As a result, there's a genuine risk of a self-perpetuating decline. Leeds United is an extreme example, ending up in the third tier for three years, but Portsmouth's slide into administration is a more recent one, and the administrator was just quoted on the financial tightrope of Championship clubs:
"The Championship is a scene of carnage with clubs pursuing the Holy Grail of promotion, losing between £5million and £10million a year and a third of them spending over 100 per cent of turnover on wages. That’s why the Championship are looking to bring in financial fair play rules. Crowds are down, sponsorship levels are down and clubs are suffering on corporate hospitality as well, down by 20-30 per cent in certain areas, but if you are successful on the pitch you will be successful off the pitch."
There's historically been a silver lining of sorts in following a club that gets relegated, because it means you're likely to have a season with significantly more victories than the previous one -- and those victories don't feel hollowed out because they take place in a lower league. As a follower of a club that has bounced between the first and second tier throughout its history, I'm able to appreciate how it's nice to have Manchester United show up at your place so that you can tell Wayne Rooney exactly how he's rubbish, but it's not so nice to go home after a 4-0 tonking. Conversely, it may not be the pleasantest away trip to Coventry, but it doesn't feel half as bad if you're celebrating a win on the train home.

I think that's starting to change, and the Pompey administrator's right: at the moment, there are at least ten clubs competing for three promotion spots, and all of them are, to some degree, gambling their long-term futures on going up. They look at clubs like Preston North End (now mid-table in League One) and appreciate that it's no financially sustainable to challenge for more than a couple of years at a time.
posted by holgate at 11:48 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Salaries don't plummet, but they will sell off a lot of players or loan out their contracts. I suggest that you read the Birmingham Mail's coverage of the resolve of Birmingham City Football Club's relegation in the 2010-2011 season, the arrest of the owner for money laundering in Hong Kong, and the hiring of Chris Hughton as head coach. The Blues won the FA Cup in 2010-2011 and so not only played in the Championship (where they are now in the play-offs to seek promotion) but also played in Europe in the Champion's League. I am a Villa fan, but I really do respect Chris Hughton's short time as coach of the Blues and think that he could make a great coach down Villa way. McLiesh is a good for nothing prat and a total wanker. We were lost when Martin O'Neill quit. OK, now I am ranting.
posted by parmanparman at 5:58 AM on March 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

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