Liverpool FC are undoubtedly one of the top sides in world football, the only team in recent years to have pipped Pep Guardiola’s indefatigable Manchester City to the Premier League title, and the most successful English club in the Champions League.
They are also Premier League ever-presents, having spent a total of 108 seasons in the top flight since they were formed way back in 1892, and last played in the second tier in 1961/62. However, despite these vast successes, the club have actually been relegated from the First Division on three occasions, which we will be rounding up in this article.
- Managers: William Barclay, John McKenna
- Points: 22
- Position: 16th (out of 16)
The 1894/95 campaign was Liverpool’s first ever in England’s top division, following their promotion from Division Two in the previous season, and it unfortunately ended in disaster for the Reds. The club finished dead last (although that was only 16th at this point) and won just seven games all season. Only one of these victories came away from home, and they were then sent on their way by Bury, who they faced in a relegation-deciding “test match”, which finished 1-0 to the Greater Manchester side.
Liverpool’s FA Cup run was also nothing to write home about that term, as the club were defeated 2-0 by Nottingham Forest in the second round. Oh dear. The Reds certainly didn’t take the first division by storm, with the managerial duo of William Barclay, who had actually previously served as Everton manager, and John McKenna, the club’s secretary, forced to rethink their strategy. There was, however, one source of hope: centre-forward Harry Bradshaw, a local lad, managed to score 17 league goals in the struggling Liverpool side, rather in the style of Jermaine Defoe at Sunderland!
- Manager: Tom Watson
- Points: 26
- Position: 17th (out of 18)
Following a period in which Liverpool appeared to have established themselves as Division One regulars, their relegation in 1903/04 must have come as somewhat of a shock. Having immediately been promoted in 1895/96, the club even managed to lift the league title in 1900/01, but just a few seasons later they were back down in the second tier.
The lowest that the club had finished in the nine seasons since their previous relegation was 11th, but in this season they seriously struggled. The club finished second bottom, after winning just nine games all term, and were even embarrassingly beaten 5-2 by Everton at Anfield (ouch!). The Reds’ FA Cup campaign was also disastrous, with the Merseyside club defeated 3-1 by Blackburn Rovers in the first round of the competition. Club top scorer for the season was winger Jack Cox, who managed just nine league goals as Liverpool trudged back to the Second Division for the second time in their history.
Although this season was a bitter disappointment, the club again refused to stay down, managing to immediately achieve promotion back to the top flight in the next campaign, a season that saw them only lose three league games. The Reds then managed to pull off a very impressive feat, one that certainly does not happen in the modern game; in their first season back in the top division, they won the title!
Although Liverpool had been relegated twice in their first 12 seasons as a club, their relegation in 1903/04 was followed by a golden period. For almost 50 years, the Merseyside giants were top flight ever-presents, as they also managed to add another four league titles to their growing collection in this era.
- Manager: Don Welsh
- Points: 28
- Position: 22nd (out of 22)
Last but not least, we have what remains the last time Liverpool F.C. were relegated from the First Division: the 1953/54 campaign. The Reds saw their impressive run of 49 seasons in the top flight end in dismal fashion, as the club finished bottom of the league with a highly disappointing tally of just 28 points.
To make matters even worse for the Merseyside giants, their place in the top flight was taken by local rivals Everton, who had finished second in Division Two. Although the season had started fairly well for Liverpool, who won one and drew two of their first three matches, this was quickly followed by a five-game losing streak that included a crushing 5-1 defeat by Preston North End at Anfield. Manager Don Welsh carries the unfortunate title of being the last coach to get the Reds relegated, and he was quickly sacked after failing to guide the Merseyside club back to the top flight in the next campaign.
This season was nothing short of bleak for the club, who were then unable to return to the First Division until 1961/62. The Reds finished in the top four for all but one of the seasons they endured in the Second Division, but it looked like their promotion back to the big time was never going to happen!
However, since achieving promotion in 1962, the Merseyside giants have gone on to become one of the most successful sides in world football, having increased their league title tally to a very respectable 19, largely thanks to their enormous success in the 1970s and 80s. The club have also added an English-record six European Cups into the mix, and regularly qualify for the Champions League. This enormous success begs the question…
Are Liverpool Likely to Ever be Relegated Again?
The short answer here, as you may have expected, is no. Although the club endured a tricky spell back in the 1950s, it has pretty much been constant success, at least in relative terms, for them since. The Reds did have to wait until the 2019/20 season to lift their first ever Premier League trophy, a wait of 30 years for the title. However, even during those three decades the Anfield outfit won numerous cups, both domestically and in Europe.
In addition, whilst they may not have lifted the league trophy, they have usually been competing somewhere around the top of the table. To put their league “struggles” into context, the lowest that Liverpool have finished in the top flight since their promotion in 1962 is eighth, so it would be utterly unprecedented for them to be relegated.
The club have one of the most star-studded squads in football, with the likes of Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk, and Alisson at their disposal, and have regularly challenged for the title over the past decade. Thankfully, for Liverpool fans, their worries are restricted to the other end of the table, where they are currently (as of May 2023) fighting to get into next year’s Champions League. Oh, how their rivals Everton would dream of such struggles!