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The main mistakes that caused Leicester City to be demoted from the Premier League

James Madison is hugged by Dean Smith.
Leicester’s third manager of the year, Dean Smith, was unable to retain them in the Premier League.
Following a miserable season in which they had three different managers and dropped 22 of their 38 league games, Leicester City will compete in the Championship.

A team that stunned the footballing world by winning the Premier League in 2016 and the FA Cup just two years prior has seen a dramatic fall from glory.

Victory over West Ham was meaningless on the penultimate day because Everton narrowly defeated Bournemouth, taking control of their destiny from them.

Where then did everything go so wrong?

The main mistakes that contributed to the club’s Premier League failure are evaluated by BBC Sport.

issues with ‘different expectations’ before the season
Preseason indicators that a turbulent campaign was about to start were present.

Since taking over as manager in February 2019 after signing from Celtic, Brendan Rodgers has done a fantastic job, leading the team to domestic cup triumph two years later as well as winning the Community Shield.

His squad had twice finished in the fifth spot, narrowly missing out on a return to the Champions League, before finishing eighth last season and making it all the way to the semifinals of the first Europa Conference League.

The Northern Irishman desired a squad refresh at that time in order to push for the top six once more, letting go of players who were no longer needed and bringing in new players with more zeal and vigor.

Rodgers sent the decision-makers a list of players he wanted to offload before departing for vacation last summer, which included attacker Ayoze Perez and midfielder Nampalys Mendy.

He took the time to meet with the players he wanted to sign, notably the Chelsea defender Levi Colwill, who ultimately signed a loan deal with Brighton.

But Rodgers was shocked to see individuals he wanted out of the club still there when he came back for the start of preseason.

The owners of the club had been heavily impacted by Covid since the aviation industry’s shutdown had forced a halt to their King Power Duty Free operation. That required tightening the purse strings at their other businesses, including Leicester.

“I want to strengthen the squad, of course. In July of last year, Rodgers stated, “I want to develop the team. “I said that in the middle of last year, but if it’s financially challenging. I don’t wage battle with the club because I have a lot of respect for them.

“It’s regrettable. We need to put in some effort, and if we can, we might be able to influence the squad. This is necessary if we want to compete at a level that is even remotely comparable to where we have been.

If not, a different expectation should be made.

The club didn’t make a substantial summer signing until the last hours of the transfer window, with center-back Wout Faes moving from Rennes for roughly £15 million.

Management blunder
Only one of Leicester’s first 10 games were victories, but the team rebounded to finish the season in 12th place, four points above the relegation zone, before the World Cup.

After the restart, however, it was virtually constant suffering as they only managed four more victories for the remainder of the season.

There is a general consensus that it would have been exceedingly expensive to delay firing Rodgers.

Despite supporters flying a “Rodgers Out” banner following a 2-1 loss to Chelsea at home on March 11 and a 1-1 tie at Brentford the following game, he was originally supported.

After the international break, Rodgers continued in his position, and the board only took action after a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace pushed them into the bottom three.

But it didn’t appear that there was any serious strategy for a replacement.

Adam Sadler, the club’s interim manager, presided over home losses to Aston Villa and Bournemouth as the organization searched for a replacement.

BBC Sport is aware of Graham Potter’s representatives were contacted by Leicester after he had recently been fired by Chelsea, but the Englishman preferred to hold off on making a decision until the end of the current campaign.

After Jesse Marsch, the previous manager of Leeds, impressed during his interview, a three-year deal was then offered to him. However, the American turned it down because he believed it was not the proper time.

The installation of Dean Smith, along with former Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare and former England captain John Terry, with eight games remaining was too little, too late.

After the discouraging 5-3 loss against Fulham, during which fans yelled “You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” James Maddison questioned the “hunger” of his team-mates. They then sang “We are going down” during the appalling 3-0 loss to Liverpool at home.

There was no escape route.

not taking over for leader Schmeichel
On the list of costly errors, signing no suitable replacement and allowing club veteran and captain Kasper Schmeichel to join Nice after 11 years and 479 games of distinguished service ranks very high.

Both on and off the field, Schmeichel was a strong voice. Additionally, in October 2018, he was the one who dashed toward the chopper carrying club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after it crashed in front of the King Power.

The Dane, who was 35 at the time, declined a one-year contract extension in favor of a three-year offer on the French Riviera.

As the third choice behind the new starter Danny Ward and the backup Daniel Iversen, Alex Smithies was brought in from Cardiff on a free transfer.

Welshman Ward, who served as Schmeichel’s understudy for four years, did enjoy a run of six clean sheets in eight games, but he was never very effective and gave up an average of 1.8 goals per game before being replaced by Iversen.

Amazingly, their first clean sheet since November came in their penultimate game at Newcastle, breaking a streak of 21 games without a shutout.

This season, they have allowed 68 league goals. Only Leeds (78), Southampton (73)—both of which were also demoted—as well as Bournemouth (71) gave up more goals.

The phrase “the most expensive team to be demoted”
Leicester would initially seem to be in a respectable position to make a quick return to the Premier League.

The club’s prized playmaker Maddison and winger Harvey Barnes, who is valued at £60 million, are slated to go but should bring in a respectable sum of money.

They are expected to immediately rise again because of the “parachute payments” that come with relegation, right? Wrong.

If Leicester’s quest for Rodgers’ replacement was ridiculous, their players’ lack of a game plan is even worse.

Seven players, including internationals Youri Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu, who would have demanded high transfer fees if moved last summer, have contracts expiring in June.

Eight more players have contracts that expire in the next year, and given that contract clauses forbidding reductions in salary of up to 50% should the team be demoted, a significant staff shakeup is inevitable.

With a salary bill of £180 million, Leicester has the highest outside of the top six teams. Maddison, Jamie Vardy, and Ricardo Pereira are just a few of the players that make more than $100,000 per week.

In its accounts through May 2022, the club reported revenues of £214 million, although this will drop to around £70 million in the Championship.

Their biggest problem is a loan that they entered into with the Australian bank Macquarie for advance payments on player amortization and television revenue.

Given the TV revenue, it is extremely possible that the club won’t receive any of the “parachute payments” because those funds will be used to cover the loan’s quarterly interest, which was £19 million last year.

Leicester’s total debt is $344 million, although a large portion of that is due to the owners, who wrote off $194 million earlier this year.

Sport finance expert Kieran Maguire stated on Radio Leicester’s When You’re Smiling podcast that Leicester would be the most costly team in Premier League history to be relegated. They would also have the highest pay bill.

Many people will have to tighten their belts. The players won’t be leaving, but there will be a retrenchment.

Some players will be under extremely lucrative contracts that lack relegation provisions, which will make them a big financial burden.

They will need to remove the valuable players first. You will still receive respectable numbers, but fewer than you anticipated when playing in the Premier League.

When suitors do arrive, “the club will be in a much weaker position.”

When Leicester last left the Premier League at the conclusion of the 2003–04 season, it took them ten seasons to make it back, including one in League One.

Players, fans, and the club will all be hoping that a further arduous climb back to the top is not in store.


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