Seven years after the most unlikely Premier League title triumph of all, Leicester were relegated from English football’s top division as Everton staged another last-day escape to extend their 69-year stay .
Leeds were also consigned to defeat at Leicester and were already relegated to Southampton on Sunday as the league season ended.
Everton’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth meant that Leicester’s 2-1 victory over West Ham was finally for naught. Leeds’ dismal campaign ended with a 4-1 defeat at home to Tottenham.
Leicester’s demise stands out because of the dramatic nature of its collapse after experiencing the most spectacular period in its history in recent years.
By winning the title as a 5,000-to-1 shot in 2016, it gave the Premier League its greatest fairy tale yet – being crowned champions two years after being promoted from the second tier.
In 2021, it celebrates victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, a period which has also seen it achieve back-to-back fifth-place finishes.
Relegation has not been seen as a realistic threat this season — even after a summer in which Leicester failed to make big moves in the transfer market.
In the Premier League, however, fairy tales do not guarantee happily-ever-after endings and Leicester now face an uncertain future with interim manager Dean Smith out of contract and a host of star players its likely to leave in the summer.
“The Premier League is where everyone wants to play,” Smith said afterwards. “It feels raw now, it hurts and everybody will be devastated. But with the infrastructure it has it will come back.”
Jon Rudkin, Director of Football looks at Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, owner of Leicester City in the stands during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on May 28, 2023 in Leicester, England | Image Credit: Getty Images
While those words are encouraging, there is no guarantee that Leicester will return to the top-flight anytime soon.
Top players such as James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes could leave and will have suitors from top clubs.
Smith made no guarantees about his own future, saying his temporary deal was up after completing the final eight games of the season.
“There have been a lot (of clubs) over time where you’ve had knocks and your job is to go back and make sure you improve the things that let you down and I’ve no doubt the club will.”
Relegation closes a chapter in a remarkable period in Leicester’s history and it remains to be seen how the club’s chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, will respond to the disappointment.
In March, the club announced a pre-tax loss of 92.5 million pounds ($114 million) for the previous financial year.
Will probably have to spend again to rebuild from here.
Everton escaped relegation
While it was a day of misery for Leicester, Everton once again celebrated as great league survivors.
Having been in the top division since 1954, it made another great escape, having avoided relegation on the last day of the season in both 1994 and 1998 previously.
Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure celebrates scoring the team’s first goal against Bournemouth | Photo Credit: Action Photos via Reuters
The Merseyside club, who narrowly avoided relegation last year, have brought it up again this season.
Abdoulaye Doucouré smashed home a 57th-minute goal to secure the winner which sparked jubilant scenes at Goodison.
Everton’s fate is always in its own hands, starting the day in 17th place, two points above Leicester and Leeds.
It was a triumph for manager Sean Dyche, who was hired in January and tasked with turning the club’s season around.
“I just told the players we can’t be in this state,” he said. “A magical day but at the end of the day we shouldn’t be in this situation.
“You are only a big club if you do big things. It is one and we have to bring it back to being one.”
United finished 3rd
Two cup finals and now a third-place finish in the Premier League. For Erik ten Hag, it has been a strong first season at Manchester United.
United rallied to beat Fulham 2-1 thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes as Newcastle finished in third place. Newcastle could only draw 1-1 with Chelsea.
A run of four straight wins to end the league campaign has set United up for its shot at Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday. United have won the English League Cup.
Villa in Europe
Aston Villa will play in Europe next season for the first time in 13 years after beating Brighton 2-1 to finish in seventh place.
Villa, who lost in the Europa League playoffs in 2010, will feature in the Europa Conference League and will fancy their chances with Unai Emery in charge. Emery won the Europa League with Sevilla and Villarreal.
Villa’s win meant Tottenham finished in eighth place and out of the European positions.
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland ended his first season in English soccer with the Golden Boot award as the Premier League’s top scorer.
He was unable to add to his 36 league goals this season, however, as the Norway international did not come off the bench in City’s 1-0 defeat at Brentford, completing a home-and-away double with the champions.
Harry Kane is second in the scoring charts with 30 goals.
Roberto Firmino ended his eight-year Liverpool career with two goals in a wild 4-4 draw with Southampton. A slew of other scorers on Sunday may have played their last games for clubs as well.
Like Granit Xhaka, who scored two of Arsenal’s second-placed goals in its 5-0 drubbing of Wolverhampton. Xhaka has been linked with a move back to Germany.
Kane refused to comment on his Tottenham future after scoring two of the team’s goals against Leeds.
“I’m focused on this season and helping the team as much as possible,” Kane said. “I’m just looking forward to a good break and a few games in England.”
James Ward-Prowse led Southampton from 2-0 down against Liverpool in what is likely to be his last game for a club where he came through the academy.
As for farewells to managers, Frank Lampard signed off his temporary spell in charge of Chelsea with a draw against Newcastle ahead of the team’s likely appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. Chelsea finished in 12th place, despite the club spending more than $600 million on players in the last two transfer windows.