Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town are gearing up for life in the Premier League after their successful promotion bids at the end of the Championship campaign. At the start of May, Brighton missed out on the Championship title but they happily took their place as runners-up to Newcastle United, while at the end of the month, Huddersfield emerged victorious on penalties from their playoff final with Reading. They will both now receive a reported figure of £170m for securing a place in the Premier League for the first time in their history, but how do clubs usually fare during their opening period among the elite of English football?
Bournemouth are the most recent example of a club defying their stature and reaching the promised land when they won the Championship title during the 2014-15 campaign. It meant that despite possessing a ground with a capacity of 11,464 and competing as low down as League Two in 2010, Eddie Howe was able to take his squad into a division which may have only previously seemed achievable by the most patient of players on Football Manager. An immediate return to the Football League was expected but the Cherries were never really in trouble of being relegated and they eventually ended the year in 16th place, five points above the dropzone. Twelve months later, the fairytale continued with ninth spot being registered and they now find themselves being linked with a whole host of big-name players.
Online casinos offering a lot of money for winning, the newest sites even offer more, but as far as football is concerned, sleeping giants Cardiff City won the jackpot by securing the second-tier title back in 2012-13. However, they were only able to keep company with Welsh rivals Swansea City for 12 months. The Bluebirds began the season relatively well with two wins and two draws coming from their first half-a-dozen outings, but the magnitude of their task soon became apparent when only two victories followed in their next 17 games. During that period, a managerial change took place as Malky Mackay was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it did little to improve results as they finished seven points adrift at the bottom of the table with just 30 points to their name.
Swansea had initially become the standard-bearer for Welsh football after their promotion through the playoffs in 2010. Like Bournemouth, they had completed the route up the Football League pyramid before claiming their spot in the top flight. They had been expected to struggle but although it took them time to acclimatise to the step up in standard, a number of wins and draws either side of Christmas effectively took relegation out of the equation and they would finish 11 points above the bottom three. Despite having several different managers, they have remained in the top flight for the past six seasons and under Paul Clement, they should only improve after a miraculous escape which was instigated by the former Bayern Munich assistant.
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The most famous newcomers to the Premier League were arguably Blackpool who, like Bournemouth and Swansea, defied the odds to take their place among the best teams in the country. The progress was orchestrated by Ian Holloway, who guided the Seasiders to 19 points from their last eight league matches to see them snatch the final playoff spot before they edged out Nottingham Forest and Cardiff to claim the most unlikeliest of promotions on a minimal transfer budget. Another chapter was written when they thrashed Wigan Athletic on the opening day of the season after a squad had been put together by small fees and free transfers but despite making it to the end of the year with 25 points, they could not maintain their efforts and they would be relegated on the final day of the season with defeat at Manchester United.
There have been other new additions to Premier League history over the past 15 years but generally speaking, most clubs have required relegation and a return to the top flight in order to properly establish themselves in the division. Swansea and Stoke City have been exceptions to that rule but it highlights the task in front of both Brighton and Huddersfield. While the riches on offer are higher than they have ever been, it also means that mid-table clubs have a greater spending power and they are using that to move closer to the top 10, rather than being sucked into a relegation battle. The two debutants may have to rely on their team spirit to make any sort of an impact but even though the betting odds will suggest they have little chance of remaining at the top tier, do not be surprised to see them make a mockery of the bookmakers.