WLB 2015/16 Preview: How Will The Promoted Premier League Sides Fare?


WILL Dyer (@W2Dyer) takes an analytical approach to determine how well the promoted sides will fare in the Premier League this season.

How Will The Promoted Sides Fare

The three newly-promoted sides in the 2014/15 Premier League season; QPR, Leicester and Burnley, followed a similar well-trodden path to their predecessors. There are a few trends that have applied to many promoted sides in the Premier League era and I’m going to investigate and highlight them here with the hope of successfully predicting how to back and oppose Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich in the coming season. At the end I’ll recommend a bet for each side that reflects the trends analysed.

Consistent Line-Ups

In the run-up to last season, QPR (10) made about the same amount of signings as Burnley (10) and Leicester (nine) but they released 11 players whereas Burnley only let six go and Leicester just three. Sean Dyche kept his squad completely British and Irish whilst Nigel Pearson maintained the spine of his side for the start of the 2014/14 season. Only Esteban Cambiasso and Leonardo Ulloa featured regularly for the Foxes and for Burnley they rarely started any of their new players bar George Boyd.

The same could not be said for QPR who played Mauricio Isla, Steven Caulker and Leroy Fer week-in-week-out and regularly featured Emmanuel Vargas, Rio Ferdinand and Sandro. All of those players made at least 11 Premier League appearances last season with the first three featuring 24 times or more.

What I am trying to get at here is that making wholesale changes to a team when promoted to the Promised Land doesn’t necessarily reap success. You could argue that QPR needed to make those signings or they would have been relegation fodder but I’m not sure that was the case. The morale of the changing rooms must be sky high after winning promotion to the Premier League, especially through the play-offs and often after a period of settling in results start to come.

Being promoted through the play-offs often makes people think that the team is desperately out of their depth and ill-prepared for Premier League football. That belief is accentuated when the play-off winner comes from fifth or sixth place in the final standings.

Managers & Stability

We often talk of ‘togetherness’ in team sports. I’m under the impression that psychology has a lot to do with these kind of things. If a player has the support system around him and his manager has instilled belief and passion as well as a rapport with teammates then he will likely play to the best of his ability.

The opposite could be said about a player who seems to be in the doldrums, hanging his head and completely disbelieving in the chances of his side staying up; probably thinking of his next move rather than three points at the weekend. QPR were a prime example of this halfway through last season when fans started heckling the players, which promoted a reaction from Clint Hill.

All was not well at Loftus Road and Harry Redknapp departed. Managerial changes can make an instant impact, a breath of fresh air. West Brom and Crystal Palace opted for this tactic and Sunderland followed suit installing Dick Advocaat as new boss. The change had an instant impact under Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew respectively. On the other hand, Hull committed to Steve Bruce and it backfired.

When looking at who’s going to be relegated next season I think we have to seriously consider the effect of the manager. There’s no doubt in my mind that Eddie Howe and Alex Neil will garner more patience from their club’s respective owners.

Quique Flores is the seventh Hornets manager since July 2012. The Spaniard has undoubted pedigree but he will have to adapt to English football quickly and with Watford’s approach to managerial instalments I have to think that he is the most likely man to be shown the door, and the bookies agree with me.

Champions, Runner-Ups & Play-Off Winners

Since the start of the Premier League in 1992/93 of the 69 promoted teams, only 27 have been relegated the next season. Quite often there’s a sizeable gulf in class and a good few points separating the champions and runners-up and an even bigger gap back to the play-off winners who regularly come from fifth or sixth place. I thought I’d investigate into where those sides end up in their following Premier League Season.

This table illustrates where each promoted side concluded their first season in the Premier League.

ChampionsRunners-UpPlay-Off Winners
92/93 Ipswich - 16th92/93 Middlesbrough - 21st (RELEGATED)92/93 Blackburn - 4th
93/94 Newcastle - 3rd93/94 West Ham - 13th93/94 Swindon - 22nd (RELEGATED)
94/95 Crystal Palace - 19th (RELEGATED)94/95 Nott'm Forest - 3rd94/95 Leicester - 21st (RELEGATED)
95/96 Middlesbrough - 12th95/96 Reading (N/A)95/96 Bolton - 20th (RELEGATED)
96/97 Sunderland - 18th (RELEGATED)96/97 Derby - 12th96/97 Leicester - 9th
97/98 Bolton - 18th (RELEGATED)97/98 Barnsley - 19th (RELEGATED)97/98 Crystal Palace - 20th (RELEGATED)
98/99 Nott'm Forest - 20th (RELEGATED)98/99 Middlesbrough - 9th98/99 Charlton - 18th (RELEGATED)
99/00 Sunderland - 7th99/00 Bradford - 17th99/00 Watford - 20th (RELEGATED)
00/01 Charlton - 9th00/01 Man City - 18th00/01 Ipswich - 5th
01/02 Fulham - 13th01/02 Blackburn - 10th01/02 Bolton - 16th
02/03 Man City - 9th02/03 West Brom - 19th (RELEGATED)02/03 Birmingham - 13th
03/04 Portsmouth - 13th03/04 Leicester - 18th (RELEGATED)03/04 Wolves - 20th (RELEGATED)
04/05 Norwich - 19th (RELEGATED)04/05 West Brom - 17th04/05 Crystal Palace - 18th (RELEGATED)
05/06 Sunderland - 20th (RELEGATED)05/06 Wigan - 10th05/06 West Ham - 9th
06/07 Reading - 8th06/07 Sheffield Utd - 18th (RELEGATED)06/07 Watford - 20th (RELEGATED)
07/08 Sunderland - 15th07/08 Birmingham - 19th (RELEGATED)07/08 Derby - 20th (RELEGATED)
08/09 West Brom - 20th (RELEGATED) 08/09 Stoke - 12th08/09 Hull - 17th
09/10 Wolves - 15th09/10 Birmingham - 9th09/10 Burnley - 18th (RELEGATED)
10/11 Newcastle – 12th10/11 West Brom - 11th10/11 Blackpool - 19th (RELEGATED)
11/12 QPR - 17th11/12 Norwich - 12th11/12 Swansea - 11th
12/13 Reading - 19th12/13 Southampton - 14th 12/13 West Ham - 10th
13/14 Cardiff - 20th13/14 Hull - 16th13/14 Palace - 11th
14/15 Leicester – 14th14/15 Burnley – 19th (RELEGATED) 14/15 QPR – 20th (RELEGATED)

So as you can see of the promoted teams since the 1992/93 Premier League season:

  • 7 champions were relegated in their first Premier League season.
  • 7 runners-up were relegated in their first Premier League season.
  • 13 play-off winners were relegated in their first Premier League season.

As the stats show, the chances of relegation are almost doubled if you are promoted having been promoted via the play-offs compared to one of the two automatic positions. It might surprise you to learn that Burnley were the first runner-ups to be relegated in seven years since Birmingham City in 2007/08.

Further analysis finds that eight of those 13 play-off winners that were relegated finished the season bottom of the pile. The odds were not in QPR’s favour last year with 56.5% of play-off winners relegated the season after and 34.7% finishing bottom of the Premier League. On the other hand, the stats were in Burnley and Leicester’s favour with less than a third of teams in their circumstances being relegated straight away.

Watford (8/11 Bet365) Norwich (11/10 Bet365) and Bournemouth (6/5 bet365) all make up the shortest prices for relegation next season but with only 27 of 69 promoted sides relegated since the beginning of the Premier League, I wouldn’t be lumping on any of those prices and I also wouldn’t be that surprised if all three stayed up.

Top-Half Finish

It’s not all about relegation. Fifteen of 69 promoted sides (22%) have even managed to finish in the top-half in their first season after promotion and surprisingly, the distribution of where they finished in the second tier the season before is completely level.

Five of 23 champions, five of 23 runners-up and, incredibly, five of 23 play-off winners have also managed to record a top-half finish. In fact the most recent promoted side to achieve this was West Ham in 2012/13, promoted as play-off winners.

So, lower ranked promoted sides actually have the upper hand in this respect in the last 10 years. Perhaps the fact champions are so used to winning means that when they face tougher teams and when the winning habit ends they find it harder to grind out results.


Bournemouth scored goals for fun last season – 115 in fact – more than any other side in the top four English Leagues. Will they carry that over to the Premier League? is a question that remains to be seen. Eddie Howe has discussed how they might change their tactics but I expect them to continue to press high and exploit the channels with Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh excelling in that respect.

See how they go but I think the Cherries will be fearless of most sides and look to outscore teams once again so Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score bets may well be the way to go. None of the last six champions have been relegated the season after so 4/6 (Bet365) on them to Stay Up looks generous if you ask me.

Watford were another side in last season’s goal-laden Championship that scored plenty at home. With three good strikers in Matej Vydra, Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo they have plenty of firepower in that respect. As already mentioned though, they have been rattling through their managers and even sacked Slavisa Jokanovic despite the fantastic efforts that the Czech made to hoist Watford into the Premier League.

It’s an odd decision and really hasn’t received much criticism for one reason or another. Either way, I think they will take the longest to settle and Quique Flores could be at more risk than the players.

Norwich traversed the play-offs as many predicted and in fact won the most points in 2015. Alex Neil was a wonderful appointment and their side is littered with previous Premier League experience so I expect them to adapt pretty swiftly and I think they could finish higher than Bournemouth and Watford as a result.

The Canaries boast the most Premier League experience of the three promoted sides. Indeed, Bournemouth have never been in the top flight in any form. I expect them to be involved in more tighter and low-scoring games than the other two sides.

Best Bets

Premier League – Norwich top-half finish (10/1 Bet365)

Premier League – Quique Flores to be Next Manager To Leave Post (13/2)

Premier League – Bournemouth to stay up (4/6 Bet365)

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About Author

Will's an avid supporter of his local team, Swindon Town. He got into betting after a serious case of beginners luck landing a 14 fold BTTS accumulator. Whilst mostly transfixed to the English Leagues, he can't get enough of football and can regularly be found watching more obscure matches from around the globe. Will has a growing interest in American Football after watching the Atlanta Falcons in the States a few years ago. Outside of betting he loves nothing more than snowboarding, travelling the world and a weekend with his pals.

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