As the controversial 2019/20 football season closes its curtain in a not so popular fashion where some results are force majuere due to the novel coronavirus resulting in boardroom champions, relegations, play offs or no fans cup parade, some clubs fate has always been on the wall. They threaded on a thin lining of a wielded dreaded axe to lower divisions respectively.
As some pundits always narrates that football has no therefore, the spectators are the one that endure bitterness and disarray as once their mightier clubs are faced unforeseen consequences and end up close to non existence. Consequently, after supporting a certain club almost a lifetime and abruptly becomes a once upon time is disgruntling.
Amongst factors that may lead to relegation followed by another until a club fade may range from community teams malfunction management, debts, change of ownership amongst many. Not so long ago, came Ecco City Greens with all the prospects, challenging the status quo of South and North dominance over the latter in the elite Botswana Premier league. Thirteen seasons later, they find themselves in the dusty Francistown’s Manaka streets trying to find their relevance again in the 2nd division. How the mighty Mamoja Diski has fallen, after giving the football community talents such as Malepa Bolelang, Mandlaenkosi Sibanda, Ontse Ntesa, Zeco Makafiri amongst their creme dela creme of the yesteyears.
However, this story is scripted across almost every region, Botswana Umplugged looks at the ‘once mightier clubs’ that had to face the wrath of the relegation. Some even went further down.
Moroka Swallows – South Africa
If it wasn’t for Maccabi FC to sell their National First Division (NFD) status to former Absa Premiership giants Moroka Swallows, the Dube Birds could be in the third tier of South African leagues. It was during the beginning of the season when Maccabi owner Norman Allan accepted a bid around R8 million for the club. Swallows commanded the respect of SOWETO, just outside Johannesburg.
Back-to-back relegations saw Swallows drop out of the Absa Premiership in 2014/15 season and in the following season they failed to survive the NFD cut and were relegated to the second division. Since then, several attempts have been made to return Swallows back to top-flight football. In 2016 the club was close to securing Free State Stars’ Premiership status. A consortium in charge of the club revealed that Swallows were looking to buy their way back into Premiership after settling their massive debts.
Leeds United – England
The 2003–04 season saw Leeds United relegated from the Premier League after 14 years in the top flight, in the aftermath of the club’s financial crisis. This came three years after reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Having also won a league title and four League Cups between 1978 and 1990, they had been relegated at the end of the first Premier League season in 1993, promoted back at the first attempt, gone down again in 1997 and achieved an instant return to the Premier League in 1998, only to be relegated a year later.
The club gotten the African flair because of their iconic defender Lucas Radebe of South Africa, infact his heroic display earned other of his compatriots bay to sign with other Premier league teams such as Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy, OldJohn Mabizela, Bongani Khumalo, Quinton Fortune among them.
Parma – Italy
If one mentions names such as Fabio Cannavaro, Hernan Crespo, Gianluigi Buffon, Lillian Thuram – massive award winning players. They could easily walk into a starting berth of any club in any league. These are just some of the names that used to don the Parma shirt in the 1990s, a period which saw the club win eight trophies.
However, the collapse of the Parmalat parent company in 2004 triggered their demise and they never reached the heights of their previous glory days. Consistent financial troubles eventually led to bankruptcy, causing them to re-enter Italian football at Serie D, where they currently top a regional league.