FW flashback: All three promoted teams relegated in ’98

The last time all three promoted teams were relegated from the Premier League was in the 1997/98 season, when Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley and Crystal Palace were all relegated having all been promoted from the EFL Championship in the previous campaign.

With history repeating itself 26 years on, as Luton bowed to their inevitable fate and joined Burnley and Sheffield United through the relegation trapdoor, we take a look back at the last time all three promoted teams were relegated from the Premier League, and what ultimately went wrong for those three teams.

Palace were relegated from the Premier League just eight years after reaching the FA Cup final in 1990 – Photo by Icon Sport

FW flashback: All three promoted teams relegated in '98

20th Crystal Palace – P38 W8 D9 L21 F37 A71 GD-34 PTS33

The unfortunate Palace finished bottom of the Premier League, after being promoted via the play-offs in the Championship, finishing in sixth place in the league season. In England's top flight, the Eagles won the fewest games of any team, while they also lost and conceded the second-most.

Steve Coppell was in charge at the start of the term, before he was promoted to the club's director of football in March, as Attilio Lombardo took over as caretaker manager. He then resigned in April, with caretakers Ron Noades and Ray Lewington seeing out the rest of the season. That lack of stability in the dugout, especially towards the business end of the campaign, ended up costing them dearly.

Atrocious form post-Christmas also saw Palace quickly slip down the table, although a rare consolation for them was that they managed to qualify for Europe via the Intertoto Cup. Nonetheless, the Eagles swooped back down to the Championship.

Barnsley have struggled to get back to the Premier League after just one season in it – Mark Cosgrove/News Images/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon Sport

19th Barnsley – P38 W10 D5 L23 F37 A82 GD-45 PTS35

Barnsley lasted just one season in the Premier League, after winning automatic promotion via finishing in second place in the Championship the season before. They finished second-from-bottom in the table, recording the most losses and conceding the most goals of any team, finishing with the worst goal difference.

Ultimately, Barnsley conceded far too many goals to have any chance of staying up, as heavy defeats such as 5-0 to eventual champions Arsenal, 6-0 to Chelsea and West Ham United and 7-0 to Manchester United contributed to their poor goal difference.

The 23 defeats in total meant they had very little opportunity to actually win matches, and so it was not a surprise to see them fall straight back down after their one and only season in the Premier League.

Bolton recently lost the League One play-off final to Oxford United – Photo by Icon Sport

18th Bolton – P38 W9 D13 L16 F41 A61 GD-20 PTS40

Bolton suffered the ultimate heartbreak as they were only relegated on the final day on goal difference. The 1996/97 Championship winners finished on the same points as 17th-placed Everton, but had a -5 inferior goal difference to the Toffees.

Howard Kendall's men had lost 4-0 to Arsenal at Highbury the week before, giving the Gunners the title, while Bolton thrashed Palace 5-2 at home to go into the final day with survival in their own hands. Despite a spirited first-half performance in which they dominated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, they would go on to lose 2-0. Meanwhile,

Everton were held to a 1-1 draw by Coventry City at Goodison Park, but after a nervy ending after they were pegged back having taken the lead, a point proved to be enough for the Toffees, who went level on points with Bolton but leapfrogged them out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Nonetheless, the Wanderers would also return to the Championship after just one campaign of top-flight football. Could Luton provide the great escape that Everton did? At this stage, it looks highly unlikely.


Adam is a lead writer on Football Whispers. He is a big Arsenal fan, and also follows his local club Wealdstone, made famous by The Wealdstone Raider, of whom he has interviewed. Adam also follows darts, boxing, cricket and tennis, among many other sports.