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Six Teams You Forgot That Played in the EPL

| April 24, 2022 12:00 pm PDT
EPL logo, soccer stadium background, images of soccer players/coaches

The English Premier League is regarded worldwide as one of the very best – and the players who play for the top teams are usually the most highly paid.

Clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United have been ever-presents since the formation of the EPL in 1992. But, with 50 teams competing in the English top flight at some point over the last 30 years, there might be a few that you have forgotten ever made it.

We’ve taken a trawl through the archives to find six that you may be surprised ever challenged for the Premier League title.

Reading – 2006-2008 and 2012/13

You could have made a killing at the top EPL betting sites back in 2006. Reading easily won the Championship that year, losing only twice in 46 games and recording an incredible 106 points, to promote the English top tier for the first time in the club’s history.

Although it may be difficult to remember the Royals playing in the Premier League, under Steve Coppell, they finished a very creditable eighth – just one point away from qualifying for European competition.

The following season began poorly, and although Reading fought well to stay up, the club was relegated at the end of the campaign. There would be another four seasons in the Championship before Reading made its only other appearance in the EPL. This time there was much less to shout about.

There were only two wins before the New Year, and after a brief flurry of positive results in January, the inevitable sacking of the manager came in March. That didn’t help matters, and Reading finished eleven points from safety and was condemned to the lower tiers.

A third-place finish in 2017 has been the only high point since then, as the club has flirted more with relegation than challenging for promotion again.

Swindon Town – 1993/94

The Robins had won promotion to Division One (as the Premier League was called pre-1992) three years earlier, but that had been overturned due to financial regulations. But in 1993, Glenn Hoddle led Swindon to the promised land once again, and everything looked good.

However, that didn’t last as Hoddle departed for Chelsea in the summer, leaving John Gorman as the new manager of one of the smallest clubs ever to play in the EPL.

Swindon’s only season in the Premier League began poorly – with five straight defeats – and never recovered. Conceding goals was a real problem, and Gorman used four different keepers to fix the issue during the season. That didn’t help either, and Swindon finished the season at rock bottom of the league with just five wins to its name.

There was another relegation the season after, and Swindon has turned into a yo-yo club between Leagues One and Two. As with many clubs its size, there have been further financial problems and even an administration spell.

The Robins are currently back in League Two and unlikely to ever play league fixtures against the likes of Arsenal and Spurs again.

Premier League Teams – Most Goals Conceded
Team Games Conceded
Swindon Town (1993/94) 42 100
Ipswich Town (1994/95) 42 93
Derby County (2007/08) 38 89
Fulham (2013/14) 38 85

Bradford City – 1999-2001

Bradford had knocked around the lower reaches of the English league pyramid for the majority of its history before rising through the divisions in the late 1990s. All that culminated in promotion to the Premier League in 1999 under manager Paul Jewell, the club’s top goal scorer just four seasons previously.

The Bantams struggled in their first year in the EPL and the second half of the season slumped looked like it would make for a brief visit to the top flight. But three wins in four games – including a final day victory over Liverpool – kept Bradford up.

After somehow qualifying for the Intertoto Cup, they even had a European competition to look forward to after somehow qualifying for the Intertoto Cup. But the second season blues hit hard.

Jewell had left for Sheffield Wednesday in the summer, and Bradford went through three managers during a campaign that saw it score just 30 goals in 38 games.

The club remained in the bottom three for most of the season and finished a dispiriting 16 points from safety. Since then, it has been back to moving between Leagues One and Two, and no sign of a return to loftier climes.

Oldham Athletic – 1992-94

Oldham had been a mainstay of the second tier for most of the 1970s and 80s before club legend Joe Royle performed a miracle and led the club to the old First Division in 1991.

The formation of the Premier League was just two years away, and the Latics just managed to stick around long enough to become founder members before dropping back down the divisions.

Oldham had made it to the semifinal of the FA Cup and lost the League Cup final to Nottingham Forest in 1990, so there were hopes that it could at least compete in the top tier. Oldham stayed up to play in the first season of the Premier League and then won its last three games to remain in the division for another year on goal difference.

There was another FA Cup semifinal trip the season after, but a collapse towards the campaign saw Oldham relegated from the Premier League, never returning.

Unfortunately, this is another club that unscrupulous owners mistreated in recent years, and now the Latics are more used to fighting to stay in League Two than climbing the pyramid.

Barnsley – 1997/98

Barnsley is a Yorkshire club surrounded by teams that have been regular members of the Premier League over the years. But in 1997, the Tykes took their place at the summit of English soccer and enjoyed every minute, even though they remained in the bottom three for virtually the entire season.

The club spent a lot of money in the offseason, in relative terms, on players that had turned out for other surprise top flight teams.

But Barnsley found the EPL a step too far, conceding 82 goals in 38 games and finishing next to bottom – above only Crystal Palace. There were high points, such as beating Liverpool at Anfield and overcoming local rivals Sheffield Wednesday. But relegation was inevitable.

Since then, Barnsley has spent most of its time in the second tier, where its smaller budget than its rivals has made it difficult to hope for anything but survival.

There have been further relegations, although the club has tended to bounce back quickly. The bounce back up to the Premier League would seem too much to ask.

Blackpool – 2010/11

There seems to be a familiar story about these ‘forgotten’ EPL teams in that they have usually endured some terrible owners in the years since playing in the top flight.

Usually, that will have to do with desperation to take an unfashionable club back to the moneyed land of the Premier League – and Blackpool knows all about those kinds of woes, unfortunately.

Blackpool had been one of England’s biggest clubs in the years after WW2, with the likes of Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen enthralling the fans and delivering trophies. But the glory years were part of a faded past when the Tangerines won promotion to the EPL just a few years after winning a playoff to come up from the third tier.

There was a curiously quiet offseason for the club before a flurry of signings just before the campaign began. Although the season ended in relegation back down to the Championship, Ian Holloway’s side was rarely in the bottom three. But just one win in the last 11 games saw the club finish in 19th, just one point from safety.

Since then, it has been a tumultuous time – thanks to the club’s former owners – but Blackpool has now made it back to the Championship and happier times.

Blackpool Victories in 2010/11 Season
Team Result Team
Wigan Athletic 0-4 Blackpool
Newcastle United 0-2 Blackpool
Liverpool 1-2 Blackpool
Blackpool 2-1 West Brom
Blackpool 2-1 Wolves
Stroke City O-1 Blackpool
Sunderland 0-2 Blackpool
Blackpool 2-1 Liverpool
Blackpool 3-1 Spurs
Blackpool 4-3 Bolton

Premier League Minnows

With so much money to be made from the EPL, plenty of clubs have pushed things to the limit to be a part of it – if only for a moment. These six clubs show that sometimes it is difficult to remember that a team had even made it at all.

There will always be the big clubs in England’s top flight, with six teams having played in every single Premier League season since its formation in 1992. But there are still clubs gaining promotion that has rarely featured in the top tier – like Brentford this season – that may have to do something special to be remembered.

Hopefully, that doesn’t mean conceding the most goals or winning the fewest points like some of these. Be sure to check our soccer blog for more posts like this.

Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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