The history of football has played host to several clubs that rose to fame but fell short after a few decisions that proved detrimental and contributed to their fall from grace.
Since then, some of the clubs have found their feet, but the others are yet to come out of the proverbial grave that they dug for themselves. Here are six football clubs that fell from grace after a mass exodus.
The Mass Exodus of Six Elite Clubs
One of the more recent falls is of the French club Monaco, who defied the odds by pipping the highly dominant Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016/17 season. To highlight the task, PSG had won the last four Ligue 1 league titles consecutively. The team consisted of youngsters with enormous untapped potential, like Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Tiémoué Bakayoko, and more. The tenacious team was also comprised of Radamel Falcao, a player who was signed for a club-record €60 million but was seemingly past his goal-scoring days at Porto and Atletico Madrid. Without a winning pedigree or a mere glimpse of a trophy previously, Leonardo Jardim’s men stepped up to the plate and handled the competition by the scruff of the neck.
After the title win, most players left the club in favour of other opportunities due to uncertainty about the club’s ambition and future. While the eight-time Ligue 1 winners made a sizeable profit on player sales in the next couple of summers, they were left short on quality in 2018/19. They finished 17th in the league. Since the unfortunate turn of events, Monaco has stabilized but is still some way off from the top.
The English club experienced plenty of domestic success, with their last English league title coming in the 1991/92 season. A team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2000/01 season. A 3-0 demolition in the return leg of the semi-final against potential finalists, Valencia ensured their elimination from Europe’s most prestigious competition. Despite the loss, the team had left a mark.
After finishing fourth in the Premier League, the three-time league title winners followed it up with a fifth-place finish in the 2001/02 season. The subsequent season saw a meltdown unfold, and relegation was not far off.
The sudden dip was due to some high-profile departures, including Rio Ferdinand‘s move to Manchester United in a record transfer deal. The 2003/04 season ended Leeds United’s top-flight run. To exacerbate the matter, the team fell to the Football League One, the third tier of English football, where they spent three years. Since then, the Whites have successfully returned to the top-tier but are still not the formidable side they once were.
Deportivo de La Coruña
The club is famous for producing the Ballon D’or winner, and former Barcelona legend Rivaldo lifted the Spanish La Liga title in the 1999/20 season. They predominantly experienced success during the nineties. The club finished runners-up in the years 1993-94 and 1994-95 in the La Liga before they finally fulfilled their title-winning dream at the end of the century, despite the loss of their talisman Rivaldo. The initial parts of the 21st century enabled Javier Irureta’s men to grow further as they continued competing for the title in the seasons 2000-01 and 2001-02.
But thereafter they demise continues as they dropped to eighth place in the following season and were static around the bottom half of the table until the 2010/11 season when their top-flight run came to an end. A quick return to the top-flight in the 2011-12 season was short-lived, and they entered a period of further decline, which resulted in multiple relegations. As of this season, they are in group one of the Segunda B division; the third tier of Spanish football.
Being the third-largest city in Spain after Barcelona and Madrid, the club possesses a rich footballing culture and a partizan fanbase. The club has six La Liga titles and eight Copa Del Reys to their illustrious name. They captured two top-flight league titles in the seasons 2001-02 and 2003-04. During this burgeoning growth, the Mestalla added a Europa League title to its collection in the 2003/04 season.
While Valencia eventually stepped back into the shadows, they remained in the top half of the table and managed two consecutive third-place finishes. By the year 2010, the club had accumulated enormous debt. The departures of Juan Mata, David Silva, and David Villa helped pay off the debt. But after selling off star player after star player, ownership of Valencia eventually changed hands with businessman Peter Lim being the owner since 2012. Under the new regime, the Spanish giants have accumulated €323 million in losses. The club still occupies a position in the La Liga, but it is far from best.
Olympique de Marseille
As of this season, Marseille still holds the record for being the only Champions League winners from France. They achieved their crowning moment in the 1993/94 season when they knocked out the legendary A.C. Milan in the Champions League final. Hailed as one of the best-supported clubs, Marseille is a historic club and established dominance in the late eighties and the early nineties in the French Ligue 1.
After four consecutive league title wins between years 1989 and 1992, the Olympians were stripped of their league title in the subsequent campaign due to an infamous bribery scandal. In the aftermath, they did not lift another league title till the 2009-10 season. In the following seasons, Paris Saint Germain rose to prominence due to a takeover bankrolled by the Qatar Sports Investments group. During this time, the nine-time League winners faced financial difficulties, and the impending takeover further dented their hopes of reclaiming the throne.
The Portuguese giants had a significant foothold in the footballing world in the 1950s and the 1960s, with their leading marksman being the late great Eusébio. A prolific goalscorer, and a Ballon D’Or winner, he scored over 473 goals in his illustrious Benfica career. His presence coincided with the most lucrative years in Benfica’s history. With 37 Premiera Liga titles under their belt, the Lisbon-based club is the most successful in Portuguese football.
In their heyday, they won the Champions League and were a threat across Europe. While their grip over Europe gradually withered out, they continued dominating Portugal. The success was down to their eye for talent and the ability to turn them into stars. As of 2021, the club has fallen below usual standards, and this is a result of recent high-profile departures like Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Carlos Vinicius, Joao Felix, and more. Their model of making and selling stars has left them dry, and only time will if they will be back.