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A yo-yo club is a sporting side that is regularly promoted and relegated. The phrase is most typically used in association football in the United Kingdom, especially in reference to promotion to and relegation from the Premier League.
The name is derived from the toy yo-yo which goes up and down a string. In Germany the equivalent term is Fahrstuhlmannschaft, in Greece it is ομάδα ασανσέρ, in Spain it is equipo ascensor and in Russia they often say команда-лифт, all four of them literally meaning "lift team" or "elevator team". In the Netherlands the term is heen-en-weer club (to-and-fro club). In Polish, yo-yo clubs are referred to as wańka-wstańka, which translates to "roly-poly toy". In Romanian, clubs oscillating between the first and second tier are called ABBA, in reference to these leagues' former names, Divizia A and Divizia B.
In England the phrase has been used to describe, among others, Birmingham City, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion.
West Brom were an archetypal yo-yo club throughout the first decade of the 21st-century, during which time they were promoted four times and relegated three times. This was seen by some to be a direct result of the policies espoused by the club's chairman Jeremy Peace, who refused to allow the club to spend beyond its means and has insisted on sound financial management. This tended to leave the club at a disadvantage in the Premier League, when other similarly-sized clubs have tended to spend beyond their means, but strongly placed in the second tier (The Championship) due to the parachute payments received on relegation from the Premier League. West Brom has recently been relegated yet again from the Premier League, proving themselves as a yo-yo club. Likewise Crystal Palace reached the Premier League five times, were relegated the following season on the first four occasions, but have now survived since 2013.
Birmingham's longest period in one division has been 18 years in the First Division, from 1921 to 1939. Their next longest was 10 years, also in the First Division, between 1955 and 1965.
Elected to Division Two in 1892, Birmingham were promoted to Division One in 1894 and relegated in 1896. Their next promotion came in 1901, and was followed immediately by relegation in 1902 and a third promotion in 1903. This time they lasted five years in the First Division, before relegation in 1908.
The following seventy years (which included breaks for the two world wars) were comparatively stable, with only three relegations and four promotions. After their seventh relegation, in 1979, they were promoted at the first attempt; the same happened in 1984 and 1985, but after their ninth relegation, in 1986, they spent 16 years out of the top flight.
During these 16 seasons Birmingham had two separate spells in the Third Division: from 1989 to 1992 (three seasons), and from 1994 to 1995 (one season).
They were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 2002. Their first spell in this league lasted four years, but in the four years from 2006 to 2009 they were relegated twice and promoted twice.
In 2011 they were relegated again, and this was the eighth time since 1979 that this had happened to Birmingham. Six of these relegations were between the top two divisions, and two were between the second and third. They have remained in the Championship since.
Brighton & Hove AlbionEdit
Brighton & Hove Albion have had only, until 2017, one brief spell in the top flight of English football, from 1979 to 1983, but in the 53 years since 1958 they have been relegated nine times and promoted ten times.
Founder members of the Football League Third Division in 1920, they remained at that level (Third Division South from 1921) for 31 seasons (38 years, including the break for World War II). Since 1958, the longest period they have spent in any one division has been seven years in the Third, from 1965 to 1972.
After winning promotion to the Second Division for the first time in 1958, they suffered consecutive relegations in 1962 and 1963 to reach the Fourth Division for the first time. (The Fourth Division was created in 1958.) Sixteen years later (in 1979) they reached the other extreme when they won promotion to the First Division for the first time, but 17 years after that (1996) they were back in the fourth tier of English football (now known as the Third Division).
In the six years from 2001 to 2006 Brighton experienced three promotions and two relegations, leaving them in the third tier (now known as Football League One), and in 2011 they were promoted to the Championship for the first time.
In 2017, Brighton finally achieved promotion back into the top flight for the first time in 34 years, finishing 2nd and gaining automatic promotion.
Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League in 2008, 2013 and 2016, with relegations to the Championship in 2010, 2015 and 2017.
Leicester City had three separate spells in the Premier League between 1994 and 2004. The second lasted six years (1996 to 2002), but the other two only one year each (1994-5 and 2003-4). After each of the first two relegations they returned to the Premier League after only one season, but after being relegated in 2004, they were out of the top flight for ten seasons, until their promotion in 2014. In 2008 they were relegated to League One (the old Third Division) for the first time, but they were promoted back to the Championship at the first attempt. The team eventually was promoted back to the Premier League in 2013–14, making a total of five promotions and three relegations in 20 years. They have remained in the Premier League ever since their last promotion, including winning the title in 2015–16, the first league trophy overall for Leicester.
Of the 107 seasons that Manchester City have spent in the English Football League, only 25 have been outside the top flight. But in the 18 years from 1983 to 2001, they were relegated from the top flight four times; and they even spent one season in the third tier.
Founder members of the Football League Second Division in 1892, City gained promotion to the First Division for the first time in 1899. They spent 63 of the following 73 seasons in the First Division (the top tier), despite suffering relegation six times – of their six spells in the Second Division over this period, the longest was three years, from 1963 to 1966. But they were relegated twice in the 1980s, and two years after another relegation in 1996 they dropped into the Third Division (then known as the Second Division) for the first time in their history – their only season at that level, to date, being 1998–99.
City have now been back in the Premier League since 2002 and, since being bought by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family, have won four Premier League titles (2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019) in the last 8 seasons.
Middlesbrough changed divisions ten times in the sixteen years from 1982 to 1998.
After regaining their First Division place in 1974 they were relegated again in 1982, and in 1986 they dropped into the Third Division again. This time they almost went out of business, but they quickly recovered and two successive promotions took them back into the First Division by 1988. They lasted only one season, and spent three more years in the Second Division before winning promotion to the newly created Premier League in 1992.
They stayed there for only one season, but regained their Premier League place two years later as First Division champions. Two years later, despite investing over ten million pounds in transfer fees for famous international players, a three-point penalty for failing to fulfil a fixture cost Boro their Premier League status. This time they regained it at the first attempt, and they held on to it for eleven years, but played seven consecutive seasons in the Championship following relegation in 2009. Middlesbrough gained promotion as Championship runners-up in the 2015–16 campaign only to suffer another relegation in the following season.
Millwall have yo-yoed between the second and third tier of English Football throughout their 92 consecutive seasons in the Football League. They have spent two seasons in the top tier, 42 in the second, 43 in the third and five in the fourth tier. They have been promoted eleven times (five as champions) and relegated ten times. They've been promoted a record eight times from the third tier, and relegated six times from the second tier.
When the regional divisions were scrapped in 1957, the club was placed in Division Four. The 1960s proved to be a remarkable decade for the club.
Promoted in 1961, Northampton were Division Three champions in 1963 and in 1965 they won promotion to the First Division. Having risen from the Fourth to the First Divisions, their decline was equally spectacular.
Relegated after one season at the top, by 1972 they were applying for re-election to the Fourth Division.
In 1971–72, Norwich City won the second tier and reached the top flight for the first time. In the next 23 seasons the club was relegated to the second tier three times (1973–74, 1980–81, 1984–85) but they always bounced back to the top flight at the first attempt (1974–75, 1981–82, 1985–86). Since being relegated in 1994–95, the club has been promoted a total of five times (2003–04, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2014–15, 2018–19) and relegated five times (1994–95, 2004–05, 2008–09, 2013–14, 2015–16), with one of those seasons (2009–10) spent in the third tier.
Managers of the team that have celebrated promotion in the Premier League era are Nigel Worthington (2003–04), Paul Lambert (2009–10, 2010–11), Alex Neil (2014–15) and Daniel Farke (2018–19), whereas managers in the same era suffering relegation have been Gary Megson (1994–95), Nigel Worthington (2004–05), Bryan Gunn (2008–09), Neil Adams (2013–14) and Alex Neil (2015–16).
Officially, Notts County are the biggest yo-yo club of the lot – switching divisions a total of 29 times in their history; with 13 promotions and 16 relegations.
Promotion years: 1897, 1914, 1923, 1931, 1950, 1960, 1971, 1973, 1981, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2010
Relegation years: 1893, 1913, 1920, 1926, 1930, 1935, 1958, 1959, 1964, 1984, 1985, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2004, 2015, 2019.
Notts County have spent a total of 30 seasons in the top flight of English football, all of which were in Division 1. They have never played in the Premiership, as they suffered relegation from the old First Division the season before it became the Premiership. They have spent a further 37 seasons in the second tier, 31 in the third tier, and 15 in the fourth tier. After the 2018–19 season, they dropped into the National League for the first time in their history.
Prior to World War II, Sheffield Wednesday were one of England's most successful clubs; they won their fourth Football League title in 1930, and they won the F.A. Cup for the third time in 1935. But they were relegated to the Second Division in 1937, and after promotion in 1950 they experienced three more relegations in the next eight years: in 1951, 1955, and 1958. Each time they won promotion at the first attempt, and it was their manager Eric Taylor who referred to this period as "the yo-yo years".
After their fourth promotion in nine years, in 1959, Wednesday remained in the First Division until 1970 (and came close to winning their fourth F.A. Cup in 1966, when they lost a memorable final to Everton). But in 1975 they dropped into the Third Division for the first time, and in 2010 they began their third spell at this level. However, in May 2012, they were promoted back to the Championship. Since 1970 they have had two periods in the top flight – totalling 14 seasons – but they have never yet repeated the frequent ups and downs of the 1950s.
Following promotion from the Southern League at the end of the 1919–20 season, Watford spent their existence in the Football League's basement Third Division South, restructured to the Fourth Division for the 1958–59 Season, before achieving their first promotion within the Football League structure, to the Third Division, at the end of 1959–60. Watford spent nine seasons at this level before a further promotion to the Second Division at the end of 1968–69. However, their stay at this level was short-lived and they were twice relegated, at the end of the 1971–72 and 1974–75 seasons, to sink back to the Fourth Division.
Under the auspices of Chairman, Elton John and Manager, Graham Taylor, Watford achieved promotions in consecutive seasons between 1977 and 1979 to reach the Second Division once again. This was followed by three seasons at that level, culminating in achieving runners-up position in 1981–82 and promotion to the First Division.
Watford were league runners-up in their first season as a First Division club, and were F.A Cup losing finalists a year later. But they were back in the Second Division come 1988–89, and slipped into the third tier of the league (by then the new Football League Division Two) at the end of the 1995–96 season. They were promoted back to Division One two years later after winning the Division Two title, and a Division One playoff triumph the following year earned them promotion to the Premiership.
Watford were unable to adjust to the pace of Premiership football and were relegated at the end of their first top-flight season in more than a decade. They won the Championship playoff in 2005–06, but last place in the Premiership the following season ensured their 11th movement in 25 seasons. After finishing runners-up in the Championship in 2014–15, Watford were promoted once again and competed in the Premier League in 2015–16. The club finished 13th, thereby maintaining Premier League status for the first time, and subsequently finished 17th and 14th in its next two Premier League seasons.
West Bromwich AlbionEdit
Since 2002, West Bromwich Albion have provided a classic example of the yo-yo. Between 2002 and 2010 they were promoted to the Premier League four times and relegated back to Division One (known since 2004 as The Championship) three times, and 2011 was the first year since 1999 that they were not involved in either a promotion or a relegation battle, in most cases right up to the last match of the season.
Albion were promoted in 2002, relegated in 2003, promoted in 2004, achieved what has become known as "The Great Escape" in 2005 when they became the first ever club to avoid relegation from the Premier League after being in bottom place at Christmas, relegated in 2006, lost the 2007 play-off Final to Derby County, promoted in 2008, relegated in 2009 and promoted in 2010. They have remained in the Premier League until the end of the 2017–18 season when the club was relegated to the Championship once again.
In 2000 Albion had been in real danger of relegation to Division Two right up to the last day of the season, and in 2001 they reached the Division One play-offs, losing in the semi-finals to Bolton Wanderers. Albion had also spent two years in the Third Division between 1991 and 1993, after being relegated from the top tier in 1986.
Wolves were one of the most famous yo-yo clubs during the 1980s. They began the decade on a high by winning the League Cup in 1980, only to suffer relegation to the Second Division and narrowly avoid bankruptcy two years later. They regained their First Division status at the first attempt, only to endure successive relegations over the next few seasons and slip into the Fourth Division for the first time in 1986. Fourth Division championship glory came two years later and the following year Wolves were Third Division champions and promoted to the Second Division. During the 1980s, Wolves had moved divisions seven times in eight seasons. They have spent all but one of their 17 subsequent seasons in the league's second tier (Second Division, Division One and now the Championship), having been in the Premier League during the 2003–04 season. Wolves won the Football League Championship title in 2009, but were relegated in 2012 after three seasons in the Premier League and relegated again a year later. Wolves finally returned to the Championship at the first attempt as League One champions in 2013–14, and were promoted to the Premier League following the 2017–18 season.
The table below shows the total number of relegations and promotions (of select clubs) between the top four tiers of English football as of the beginning of the 2016–17 season.
|8||West Bromwich Albion||9||9||18|
In German, yo-yo clubs are referred to as Fahrstuhlmannschaften (lit. lift teams or elevator teams). 1. FC Nürnberg has been promoted or relegated 16 times between the first-tier Bundesliga and the second-tier 2. Bundesliga. Arminia Bielefeld (14 moves), VfL Bochum, Hertha BSC (both 12), Karlsruher SC and MSV Duisburg (both 11) each are also considered to be yo-yo clubs in German club football, as well as Hansa Rostock (16 moves) and Union Berlin (12) if the league system in the former East Germany is included in the statistics.
Bofoakwa Tano have been promoted or relegated nine times since finishing bottom in 1979. They were promoted back to the top flight in 1982, but were relegated again in 1985. The club reappeared in the top division in 1989–90, by which time the league had switched to winter. They were relegated again in 1990–91, promoted back in 1994–95, relegated in 1996–97, promoted in 1997–98. In 1999 they finished third from bottom, but avoided another relegation by winning a play-off. However, they were relegated again in 2006–07.
Hong Kong Football Club has won many titles in the second-tier competition in Hong Kong Soccer League history, however, they have rarely enjoyed success when playing against the professional sides in top-tier competitions. Therefore, they have the local nickname the lift (Chinese: 升降機), which is the equivalent of the term Yo-yo club.
Irish club Finn Harps are known as a yo-yo club due to the regular frequency of the club's relegation and promotion to and from the League of Ireland Premier Division and League of Ireland First Division. Drogheda United swapped Divisions every season between 1993/94 and 2000/01.
Dutch football club FC Volendam are known as the Heen-en-weer club (The to-and-fro club): they won promotion from the Eerste Divisie to the Eredivisie in 1959, were relegated in 1960, were promoted in 1961, were relegated in 1964, were promoted in 1967, were relegated in 1969, were promoted in 1970, were relegated in 1972, were promoted in 1977, were relegated in 1979, were promoted in 1983, were relegated in 1985, were promoted in 1987, were relegated in 1998, were promoted in 2003 and were relegated in 2004. In 2008 FC Volendam promoted once again, only to finish last and be therefore relegated the following year. For the 2009–10 season, the club is playing in the Eerste Divisie.
The Polish club Wisła Płock is often referred to as a yo-yo club (wańka-wstańka in Polish). They were promoted to the Polish First League in 1994 (known as Petrochemia Płock at the time), but were relegated after one season. Promoted again in 1997, they again were relegated after one season. Their next promotion came (after shortening their name to Petro Płock) in 2000, and this time they managed to avoid relegation after one season. However, the next season (known now as Orlen Płock) they were again relegated. In 2002, reverting to the original name Wisła Płock, they were promoted to First League, and finally enjoyed relative stability, even reaching the Polish Cup final in 2003 and winning it in 2006. However, relegation was again in order in 2007. After that, they spent 3 years in the second tier before being relegated to the third in 2010. They immediately got promoted to the second tier, but got relegated from it again in 2012. They were once again promoted to the second tier the following season, spending 3 years in it, before finally returning to the Ekstraklasa in 2016. In spite of this "yo-yoing," Wisła have avoided the fate of other relegated clubs in Poland, such as bankruptcy (e.g. Szczakowianka Jaworzno) or further relegation to lower divisions (e.g. Raków Częstochowa).
In Turkey, these kinds of clubs are called asansör takım (elevator team). Karşıyaka S.K. relegated from first level in 1964, 1967, 1972, 1991, 1994 and 1996. Karşıyaka also played in third level between 1973–1980 and 2001–2003. Also Sakaryaspor has an interesting statistic. They promoted in 1981, relegated in 1986. But they promoted again after the 1986–87 season. However they could only stay in first level for three seasons and relegated again in 1990. They came back to first level for a single season in 1998–99. They were back again in first level in 2004–05, but relegated same season. They won the 2005–06 play-offs and promoted to first level again, just to relegate after one season. They almost repeated same thing when they reached play-offs in 2007–08 but this time they lost and finally "stayed" in second level for a second season in row. Sakaryaspor later relegated to once to third level in 2008–09 season. Sakaryaspor returned second level after play-offs in the 2010–11 season but this return was brief due to money shortage. After two successive relegations between 2011 and 2013, they were placed in fourth level. all in all, Samsunspor was promoted to first level in 1969, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1991, 1993 and 2011 and relegated from first level in 1975, 1979, 1983, 1990, 1992, 2006 and 2012. Samsunspor currently plays in the First League, which is second tier in the Turkish league system.
Adanaspor is one of the most yo-yoed teams. They were promoted to first league in 1971, relegated in 1984, promoted again in 1988, relegated again in 1991, promoted in 1998, relegated in 2001 and promoted to first league last in 2002. They suffered from financial difficulties between 2003–2006 and were relegated to Third League, which is fourth level of Turkish league system in 2006 after three successive relegations. They also didn't win any match at third level in the 2005–06 season. But they recovered to Bank Asya First League in 2008 after two successive promotions.
Kasımpaşa S.K. is one of the recent yo-yo clubs, having been relegated from Süper Lig in 2008 and 2011, and promoted in 2007, 2009 and 2012. They also moved to and fro between Bank Asya First League, the second tier of Turkish football, and TFF Second League, the third level, before being promoted to Süper Lig. They also played in amateur level between 1979 and 1984 and fourth level between 2001 and 2005.
Other yo-yo clubs in Turkey are below:
1st Level: 1967–1974, 1976–1978, 1980–1981, 1982–1983, 2011–2013, 2014–
2nd Level: 1963–1967, 1974–1976, 1978–1980, 1981–1982, 1983–2001, 2002–2006, 2009–2011, 2013–2014
3rd Level: 2001–2002, 2006–2009
1st Level: 1960–1961 (Played home matches in Ankara), 1973–1984, 1987–1990, 1991–1992, 1994–1995
2nd Level: 1963–1973, 1984–1987, 1990–1991, 1992–1994, 1995–1999, 2002–2004, 2012–
3rd Level: 1999–2002, 2004–2012
Amateur Level: 1958–1960, 1961–1963
Antalyaspor (since 2010 as Medical Park Antalyaspor due to sponsorship agreement)
1st Level: 1982–1985, 1986–1987, 1994–2002, 2006–2007, 2008–2014
2nd Level: 1966–1982, 1985–1986, 1987–1994, 2002–2006, 2007–2008, 2014–
Diyarbakırspor (It was dissolved due to enormous unpaid debts in 2013)
1st Level: 1977–1980, 1981–1982, 1986–1987, 2001–2006, 2009–2010
2nd Level: 1976–1977, 1980–1981, 1982–1986, 1987–2001, 2006–2009, 2010–2011
3rd Level: 1968–1976, 2011–2012
4th Level: 2012–2013
Şekerspor (Also played as Şekerhilal, Etimesgut Şekerspor, Akyurt Şekerspor, Beypazarı Şekerspor and Çamlıdere Şekerspor, now is Polatlı Şekerspor)
1st Level: 1959–1963, 1964–1966, 1967–1969, 1972–1973, 1997–1998
2nd Level: 1963–1964, 1966–1967, 1969–1972, 1973–1992, 1994–1997, 1998–2003
3rd Level: 1992–1994, 2003–2005, 2006–2013
4th Level: 2005–2006, 2013–
1st Level: 1958–1977, 1978–1980, 1981–1982, 1999–2000, 2001–2003
2nd Level: 1977–1978, 1980–1981, 1982–1999, 2000–2001, 2003–2004, 2011–2013
3rd Level: 2004–2005, 2009–2011, 2013–
4th Level: 2005–2007, 2008–2009 (Göztepe took place of Aliağaspor in 2008)
Amateur Level: 2007–2008
Kayseri Erciyesspor (Kayserispor before 2004–2005 season)
1st Level: 1973–1975, 1979–1980, 1985–1986, 1992–1996, 1997–1998, 2005–2007, 2013–
2nd Level: 1966–1973, 1975–1979, 1980–1985, 1986–1989, 1991–1992, 1996–1997, 1998–2007, 2007–2013
3rd Level: 1989–1991
Çaykur Rizespor (Rizespor before 1990–1991 season)
1st Level: 1979–1981, 1985–1989, 2000–2002, 2003–2008, 2013–
2nd Level: 1974–1979, 1981–1985, 1989–1993, 1994–2000, 2002–2003, 2008–2013
3rd Level: 1968–1974, 1993–1994
1st Level: 1971–1977
2nd Level: 1967–1971, 1977–1978, 1979–1986, 1988–1991, 1993–1995, 1997–2000, 2007–2012, 2014–
3rd Level: 1977–1978, 1986–1988, 1991–1993, 1995–1997, 2000–2001, 2005–2007, 2012–2014
4th Level: 2001–2005
Manisaspor (Before 1965 Manisa Sakaryaspor, aka Vestel Manisaspor twice)
1st Level: 2005–2008, 2009–2012
2nd Level: 1964–1978, 1980–1983, 1985–1986, 1991–1993, 1994–1995, 2002–2005, 2008–2009, 2012–
3rd Level: 1978–1980, 1984–1985, 1986–1991, 1993–1994, 1995–2002
Amateur Level: 1958–1964, 1983–1984
Quilmes Atlético Club is the club with most promotions and relegations in Argentina, with 8 times each.
Club Olimpo is another yo-yo club, commonly referred to as "el ascensor" (the elevator) in Argentina.
Santa Cruz is traditionally a yo-yo club. Playing from 1971 to 1981 on the top flight, since 1982 the club has spent 9 seasons in the Brasileirão Série A, 18 seasons in the second division, 3 in the third division and 3 in the Brasileirão Série D. The team currently competes in Série C. Other clubs who recently swung between divisions are América Mineiro, Criciúma, Sport Recife, Náutico, Figueirense, Ponte Preta, Portuguesa, Bahia, Vitória, Guarani, Vasco and Botafogo. Most of them are from the Northeastern region of Brazil and from smaller cities of São Paulo state.
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- Yoshida, Guilherme (2015). "Vasco empata e é rebaixado pela 3ª vez no Brasileiro em menos de 10 anos" [Vasco draws and is relegated for the 3rd time in less than 10 years]. Folha de São Paulo.
- "Novo rebaixamento do Botafogo para a Série B foi tragédia anunciada" [New Botafogo's relegation to Serie B was announced tragedy]. Extra-Globo. 2014.