For the select few in football, the chance to win silverware or qualify for the prized continental competitions is the goal each season.
For many others, avoiding relegation is the key, while those lower down English football’s food chain have the chance to ascend up it if they can secure promotion.
At the culmination of the 2021/22 campaign, there were some familiar faces celebrating/commiserating promotion and relegation, while for others long old stints in their former division came to an end – for better or worse.
Premier League: Relegation
Burnley’s lengthy stay in the Premier League came to an end following a final game of the season loss to Newcastle United.
The Clarets, who were promoted to the top-flight at the end of the 2015/16 season, could have survived, but lost to the Magpies on the final day while Leeds United, their closest rivals, won at Brentford.
The disappointment of relegation is a familiar feeling for Watford and Norwich City, who have tasted demotion a combined seven times in the past 20 years of Premier League action.
|4th (Playoff)||Nottingham Forest||80|
Promotion to the Premier League is worth an estimated £150 million to each club, so Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest will be laughing all the way to the bank after ascending from the Championship in 2021/22.
Fulham bagged 106 goals on their way to the title, with a record-breaking 43 of them notched by prolific striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Bournemouth secured automatic promotion after gaining 88 points, while what a story it is for Nottingham Forest fans – the former European champions return to the Premier League after 23 years in the doldrums.
|23rd||Derby County||34 (12pt deduction)|
Newly-promoted Peterborough went immediately back from whence they came after finishing in 22nd position in the Championship in 2021/22.
Barnsley’s relatively short stay in the second tier – they were promoted to the Championship in 2018/19 – also came to an end, but the big story was the demise of former Premier League outfit Derby County.
They will be playing in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1986, owing largely to the 21-point deduction they were handed due to their financial regularities – without it, they would have comfortably survived.
At the time of writing, the Rams still hadn’t found a buyer to put their sordid recent history behind them.
League One: Promotion
Two former Premier League giants finally had reasons to be cheerful after they secured promotion from League One in 2021/22.
For Wigan, it was a remarkable turnaround. Relegated from the Championship with financial difficulties of their own in 2019/20, they avoided a second successive demotion to League Two by just one point.
The Latics got it together in 2021/22 to win the title by two points from Rotherham, whose stay in League One would last just a single season.
Joining them on the promotion trail was Sunderland, who ended their four-year stint in League One courtesy of victory in the play-off final over Wycombe Wanderers.
League One: Relegation
A fascinating final day of the season in League One ended in heartbreak for Gillingham, Doncaster Rovers and AFC Wimbledon – all of whom could have stayed up but for negative results on a titanic day of ups and downs.
As for Crewe Alexandra, their two-season stay in the third tier ended as they finished bottom of the table, eleven points from safety.
League Two: Promotion
|1st||Forest Green Rovers||84|
|5th (Playoff)||Port Vale||78|
Bristol Rovers’ promotion to League One made headlines all around the world – needing to win by seven clear goals to finish in third place, Joey Barton’s men wrapped up an astonishing 7-0 victory over Scunthorpe United to achieve exactly that.
Both Forest Green and Exeter City went into the final game of the season knowing they could win the League Two title – the latter’s shock defeat to Port Vale was enough for the former, who could only muster a draw at Mansfield Town, to take top spot on goal difference.
Port Vale used their win over Exeter as a springboard into the play-offs, where they defeated Mansfield in the final at Wembley.
League Two: Relegation
Scunthorpe’s 0-7 loss to Bristol Rovers was a fitting epitaph for a dismal campaign – they were relegated from League Two after winning just four games all-season long.
They will be joined in the fifth tier by former Premier League team Oldham Athletic, who dropped out of the Football League for the first time in an astonishing 115 years.