Two big teams going down...

5 famous European clubs we can’t believe have been relegated in 2023-24

With all eyes on the league winners and headline grabbers of the 2023-24 season, there are several major sides whose relegation has flown under the radar.

Unfortunately, a handful of teams must always go down. Well, unless the league in question is undergoing an identity crisis, but that’s a topic for another day.

No matter how damaging it is, we thrive on that sweet, sweet jeopardy as fans, with relegation setting up brilliant comeback stories or crises that clubs have to navigate for the rest of time.

You know about the big clubs to go down, but what about the teams you missed? We’ve scoured around the divisions that have now concluded for the season and picked out five clubs whose relegation has seriously stunned us.


Three years ago, Granada beat Napoli over two legs in the Europa League round of 32 and were only knocked out in the quarter-final by Manchester United, while also finishing ninth in La Liga.

They were relegated in 2021-22, but fought back to the top-flight and returned to La Liga at the first attempt for the 2022-23 campaign. They’ve lasted just two years this time round, however, having won just four times all season and shipped 72 goals, still with a game to play.

Alongside Almeria and Cadiz, it means all three relegated teams in Spain come from Andalucia.

A sudden fall-off for a side punching above their weight not so long ago.

Europa League Clément Grenier ( Rennes ) Aubameyang ( Arsenal ) Les supporters Rennais , fumigène

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A Serie A mainstay for the last 11 years, Sassuolo had picked up a reputation as a giant killer in Italy.

While never quite setting the world alight, the Neroverdi always felt like the perfect banana skin for the traditional big guns in Serie A.

They managed back-to-back eighth-place finishes in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and have made a habit of taking points off the likes of Milan, Napoli, Roma, Juventus and Inter in recent seasons.

They beat Scudetto winners Inter at the San Siro at the beginning of this season and again in May, just weeks after playing out a 3-3 draw with Milan, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop a sudden slide down the table that has proven fatal.

They’ll play in Serie B next season for the first time since 2013.


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Known by some as Vitesse Arnhem and by many as that Dutch club who take all of Chelsea’s youngsters on loan, Vitesse have never been the biggest team in the Netherlands.

But they enjoyed a successful 1990s, have brought through a number of the game’s greatest players and won the KNVB Cup as recently as 2017.

The club has been in the top flight every season without fail since 1989, but will play its football in the second-tier Eerste Divise in 2024-25 after being handed the largest points deduction in the history of Dutch football back in April.

Vitesse were docked an astounding 18 points after an investigation concluded that the club had strong connections to Russian oligarch and former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed: “At least €117m was loaned from two Abramovich-owned companies to Vitesse under the club’s two previous owners, Merab Jordania and Alexander Chigirinsky.”

To make matters more drastic, the club find themselves in a financial hole they cannot escape. Current majority owner – another Russian oligarch – Valeriy Oyf announced his intentions to sell his shares in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has been unable to do so.

It leaves the club heading into the second tier with their ownership in the air, no financial support and the possibility of having their licence revoked as a result, while the KNVB tries to help them towards a solution.

A truly dire situation for supporters and staff.

1. FC Koln

They’ve been a bit of a yoyo club over the last 20 years, but FC Koln’s latest stint in the Bundesliga seemed to be their most promising in a while, finishing as high as seventh in 2021-22 after being promoted back to the top-flight in 2019.

The two-time Bundesliga champions have been relegated after five consecutive seasons in the top-flight, however, finishing six points adrift of VfL Bochum in the relegation play-off spot, who will joust with Dusseldorf to try and keep their top-flight status.

Having won the second tier four times, FC Koln – also known as Cologne – would typically back themselves to return to the top flight, but a transfer ban hanging over their heads complicates matters.

An aerial view of Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany. The stadium will be one of 10 host venues for Euro 2024.

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When you think of the City Football Group, you think of a rather sickening corporate machine tarnishing football worldwide, made more annoying by these ‘well-run’ clubs seemingly justify multi-club ownership models.

Fans of French outfit Troyes will open your eyes to an entirely different, much more bleak reality.

Troyes have now officially faced back-to-back relegations, going from playing in Ligue 1 in 2022-23, to playing in the French third tier for the 2024-25 season after being relegated from Ligue 2.

The main football club of a town in northern France with a population of around 62,000 people, Troyes have never been giants historically, but were acquired by CFG in 2020 and have essentially been used as a merry-go-round for players and staff ever since.

This has led to their sharp freefall from the top flight to the Championnat National.

To put into context how Troyes have been mistreated, Brazilian winger Savio was made their record signing in 2020, but never played a game for the club, having been immediately loaned to PSV and later fellow CFG club Girona.

Savio will join Manchester City this summer, while Troyes continue to struggle.