A few weeks ago I read an article on the Mirror about how long it takes to get re-promoted to the Premier League. Aston Villa will probably be playing in Championship next year, so the paper was looking to the historical data to see how long it took other teams to come back to the top competition.
The article inspired me and I decided to do a similar analysis for other leagues, starting with Spanish La Liga, so I should thank Mirror’s journalist David Dubas-Fisher for giving me the idea.
The chart above is based on the data provided by the Mirror and it shows that most comebacks take place in the first two seasons after relegation. If you stay longer…you might never return to the Premier League. That’s what happened to some big names like Leeds, Derby or Nottingham Forest.
In Spain the trend is quite similar. Almost half of the teams return to La Liga in the following 3 seasons after their relegation, in fact, the median is just 2 seasons. Nevertheless, almost 40% (38% to be accurate) are still in lower competitions.
But hey, if your team has been relegated and it hasn’t returned yet, don’t despair. In Spain there are a few examples of teams that remained many years playing in ‘La Liga Adelante’ (Spanish second division) and eventually got promoted. Have a look to the chart below, you will notice a very different distribution compared to the Premier League.
There are some teams (not many) that were able to return to La Liga after 7, 8 or even 13 seasons. Think for instance in UD Las Palmas. They are currently playing in La Liga but they have been playing in lower categories since season 2002/2003. In fact, they spent two seasons in 2B, Spanish third division, but they managed to return to the top category.
The last chart of this post shows the teams that, since 1992, spent the longest periods in lower categories before returning to La Liga. The top position is shared between UD Las Palmas and Hércules CF, a team from Alicante currently playing in 2B that played in La Liga for the last time in season 2010/11.