The relegation battle in the English Premier League came to an end last night as it was confirmed that Newcastle and Norwich City would be joining Aston Villa in the Sky Bet Championships come next season.
Sunderland beat Everton 3-0 to maintain their place in the Premier League next season, while Newcastle was relegated for the second time since 2008. Aston Villa’s place in the lower league was confirmed weeks ago after a remarkably poor season.
Newcastle United made a statement through its managing director, saying that it was a devastation for everyone at the club. He wrote:
“Tonight we are devastated at our relegation from the Premier League, as I know every single person connected to this football club will be. I want to thank all of the fans for the support you have shown for the club you love throughout the season, in spite of this massive disappointment and under-achievement. Your support throughout has been magnificent, but I want to pay particular thanks for the incredible backing you have given to Rafa and the team during the latter part of the season. Nothing more could be asked of you and I am truly sorry we have not given you the outcome you deserve.”
For the £80million spent in the transfer market this season, Newcastle United are the most expensive club to be relegated in Premier League history. Current Manager and former Real Madrid and Liverpool boss, Rafa Benitez, has a release clause in his contract allowing him to leave if the club is relegated. It is not known whether he would choose instead to stay with the club in the Championship next season. Reports abound of the club’s intent to offer him £5 million a year to keep him at the club.
It was a fourth straight season of relegation battles for Sunderland. Sunderland secured their Premier League survival with a comfortable victory that sparked wild scenes of celebration at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland’s win, which came courtesy of two goals from surprise hero Lamine Kone, moved them up to 38 points with one match remaining, four points clear of Norwich and Newcastle.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce, a known master of steering teams clear of the relegation zone danger, gave the Sunderland fans a reason to celebrate. He said:
“There were a long few winter months. We became a team that was difficult to beat, who did not like losing and continued the run constantly for the last few months.”
He however challenged the club to work harder at moving up the coming season.
Cameroonian defender Sebastian Bassong, recorded his 6th relegation with Norwich despite the club winning Watford 4-2. “It is a severe disappointment,” Norwich manager Alex Neil said after the match. “We had it in our hands five matches ago, but we came up short.”
He thanked the club and took responsibility for the club’s predicament. “We have not given them too much to shout about and that makes it harder for me to accept letting them down.”
Home fans sang in support of Neil in the second half and during a lap of appreciation following the final home game of the season. Neil said:
“That, for me, was really, really humbling. For them to respond in that way, I didn’t expect. I think it’s really unusual. I can only thank them for that.”
As to his future and the future of the club, he pointed out:
“There’s a lot of soul searching and discussions to be had to decide which way the club is going to move forwards. My future doesn’t really concern me at this moment in time.”