Leicester City breakdown — the little engine that could, until it couldn’t

Leicester City breakdown — the little engine that could, until it couldn’t
Harvey Barnes, Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison of Leicester look dejected after being relegated after their Premier League match against West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on 28 May, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

After an incredible ride at the highest level of European soccer, Leicester City have unceremoniously tumbled to the second tier of the English game.  

Life can come at you very quickly. One moment you’re on top of the world, the next you’re hitting the ground with a thunderous thud. One example of such is recently relegated English Premier League side Leicester City.

The fate of the Foxes was sealed on the final day of the 2022/2023 season, ending their nine-year stay in the English top flight. This in spite of the club claiming a rare win to end a disastrous campaign.

Those precious three points were not enough as the other team which had the threat of relegation hovering over it — Everton — was also victorious. 

Thus, ensuring they finished two points above the Foxes, who joined already relegated Southampton, as well as Leeds United in plunging to the second tier of English soccer.    


Leicester, who miraculously clinched the league title seven years ago (in just their second season after being promoted to the top flight) became only the second former Premier League champions to be relegated as a result.

They share that undesirable record with Blackburn Rovers. The latter were crowned English champions in 1995, only to tumble to the Championship four years later.

Incredibly, the Foxes finished in the top 10 for five consecutive seasons before this latest fall from grace. In that period, they won the FA Cup and also managed to reach the semifinals of the Uefa Europa Conference League — the first time ever in their history that they had reached the last four in European competition.

In 2017, following their qualification for the Uefa Champions League on the back of their domestic league triumph, the Foxes trotted to the quarterfinals after finishing at the summit of their group. Their group included two-time European Champions Porto, as well as Club Brugge of Belgium and Danish giants Copenhagen.

These returns and performances over the last nine years make their unceremonious exit from the English top tier even more shocking.  

Nevertheless, the club was simply not at the required level this past season. It’s not easy to survive relegation having lost 22 matches and won just nine.

Licester City, Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas of Leicester City in action during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on 28 May, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Rodger that?

Former Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers sounded the alarm bells months before the season even commenced. With the club tightening its purse strings due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the finances of their Thai owners, movement on the transfer market was limited.

Belgian defender Wout Faes, who cost them around £15-million, was the club’s most significant piece of business in the transfer market prior to the 2022/2023 season. This worried Rodgers, who had been at the club since 2019 before being shown the door due to the team’s struggles.

These tough times included a run of seven defeats from their first 10 matches of the season. The theme of defeats would continue throughout the team’s beleaguered season. A five-game winless run prior to that last-gasp win against West Ham — which included a draw with Everton — sealed the team’s descent to the second tier.  

Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

Jamie Vardy of Leicester looks dejected after being relegated after his team’s Premier League match against West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on 28 May, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“Clearly, we have to do some business before we can get players in. We just are not in the same position as some of the other clubs. Until that changes, I will keep working with the players we have. We try to maximise their abilities. If the club can do something in the market to help the team, we would want that,” Rodgers told the Leicester Mercury in July 2022.

“Of course, I want to improve the squad. I want to develop the squad, I said that midway through last year. But if it’s difficult financially, I really respect the club. So, I don’t go to war with them,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate. We have to do some work and if we can do that, then hopefully we can affect the squad. Because if we are going to compete anywhere near where we have been [in recent seasons], then we need to be able to do that. If not, then it’s a different expectation.”

In hindsight, the words of Rodgers (who left the club in April) will probably feel like salt to the wound for Leicester’s faithful. 

However, he has been proven right. Though, to be fair, a team with players such as James Maddison and Youri Tielemans should have done better.  

The last time Leicester dropped out of the Premier League was 19 years ago. It took 10 tough seasons for them to make a return to the top tier of English football. All those closely associated with the club will hope their absence is not as long this time.

“Next season is going to be tough, but it will be a year for collaboration and unity. We will come together and fight to return to the Premier League,” Leicester City chairperson Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.