Table of Contents
“As a Derby fan this has been a somewhat miserable time,” begins Mark Ward. “With the announcement of our 12-point deduction for going into administration, I was wondering whether any team had weathered a similar punishment without being relegated? If so, with the threat of another nine-point deduction hanging over Pride Park, what’s the biggest penalty given to a club that avoided relegation?”
Let’s start with a tale about a bouncebackable Old Lady. “I suspect Serie B in 2006-07 isn’t quite the reply your reader is looking for, but it’s always interesting to remember Juventus’s brief sojourn in Italy’s second tier,” writes Alan Gomes. “Juve were relegated in the aftermath of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal and deducted a whopping 30 points. That was later reduced to nine points. Juventus didn’t just avoid relegation: they won the league, finishing six points ahead of second-placed Napoli.
“Even if the original 30-point deduction had stood, Juventus would have finished eighth – only four points off promotion, and a comfortable distance away from the relegation zone. That Juventus squad did have the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet.”
Derby are currently 23 points off the leaders, Bournemouth, and sans World Cup-winners, but happily there are some more relatable precedents closer to home. “The best post-deduction performance in the EFL must be Leeds in League One in 2007-08,” writes Matt Robb. “Despite losing 15 points at the start of the season they reached the play-offs with 76 points. The on-pitch total was 91 which would have been enough for promotion.
“Also in League One, Southampton just missed out on a play-off spot after losing 10 points in 2009-10. A year earlier, Rotherham and Bournemouth stayed in League Two despite 17-point deductions. One of them was pretty much guaranteed survival though, as Luton had lost 30 points. Chester were the other relegated side despite a 17-point head start. Grimsby also finished below Bournemouth, while Rotherham ended the season in a respectable 14th.
“Finally, in 2018-19, Birmingham stayed in the Championship despite losing nine points for profitability and sustainability breaches. The bad news for Derby is that all these were achieved by clubs who were out of administration at the start of the season. The record for clubs going into administration during a season is less encouraging.”
It helps if you get off to a good start. “In 2009-10, Crystal Palace went into administration while in the Championship and were deducted 10 points in the January,” writes Martin Jones. “Despite this, and having to sell key players such as future European champion José Fonte and future Premier League-winner Victor Moses, the fact Palace were relatively handily placed in the league at the time of the deduction meant we eventually survived after a last-day draw at Sheffield Wednesday, who went down as a result.” Palace finished 21st, two points ahead of Sheffield Wednesday. Without the deduction, they would have ended up in 13th.
Let’s finish where we started, in Italy. Juventus’s class of 2007 aren’t the only ones to overcome a handicap. “Points deductions are a typical punishment for match-fixing and let’s say Italian football has had its fair share of those,” says Alexandre Chesneau. “In that same 2006-07 season, only this time in Serie A, Fiorentina and Reggina were docked 15 and 11 points respectively. Both teams survived, and Fiorentina even qualified for the Uefa Cup by finishing sixth.” Without the points deduction, they would have come third.
“The other example is Lazio in Serie B in 1986-87, who stayed up after a relegation play-off despite a nine-point deduction,” continues Alexandre. “That was back when a win was worth two points, so it was effectively a 13-point deduction (four wins and a draw) in today’s currency.”
Can any club’s anthem beat Bubbles for longevity?
“West Ham fans have been singing ‘Bubbles’ since the 1920s. Has any other English club such a long standing anthem,” asks Chris Grant.
Let’s be havin’ you then, Norwich fans. “I immediately thought of my beloved Norwich’s ‘On The Ball, City’, which has been sung since the club’s formation in 1902,” writes Will Hedges-Tucker (and fives of other Canaries supporters). “In fact, the song is older than the club itself having been used by earlier Norwich-based teams since the 1890s.”
Declan Rice walks through West Ham’s bubbles. Photograph: Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United/Shutterstock
And they were all yellow
“There are an awful lot of yellow kits in this season’s Premier League,” begins Leon Wilde. “Discounting Manchester United’s fetching yellow shorts seen earlier this season at Southampton the following nine teams all have (predominantly) yellow shirts as part of their lineup of kits for 2021-22.
“Arsenal (away), Brentford (away), Brighton (third), Chelsea (away), Crystal Palace (away), Liverpool (third), Norwich (home), Southampton (away), Watford (home). Is this a record for the English top flight and does this question cut the custard mustard?”
Some of the yellow kit brigade: Ivan Toney of Brentford, Ben White of Arsenal, Danny Rose of Watford, James McArthur of Crystal Palace and Mo Salah of Liverpool. Photograph: Getty Images, Shutterstock
We’ve not been able to find a season with a greater number of yellow outfield playing kits on show. The Premier League had seven in 2013-14 (eight if you allow Swansea’s yellow and blue away kit) but there was a proliferation of yellow goalkeeping tops in the 2019-20 season to match the nine outfield ones this term, perhaps because looking like a six-foot-plus canary has been proven to put strikers off.
“There is a long and embarrassing history of footballers releasing novelty singles (and more), but do any show a deeper commitment to music?” asked James Hampson in October 2013. “Has there ever been a footballer with a music qualification, for example?”
David Rae has an answer, of sorts. “I’m sure I’ll not be the only person to respond to this one with the name James Allan. I’m not sure about the music qualification but James is currently the frontman for an extremely successful, popular beat-combo called Glasvegas but in a previous life he was a professional footballer, playing for such titans of the Scottish game as Cowdenbeath, East Fife, Queens Park, Stirling Albion, Gretna (RIP) and Dumbarton.
“He was recently on BBC Radio Scotland’s irreverent footballing show Off The Ball and stated that he is probably the only person to have scored a goal at Hampden Park when playing for Queens Park in a professional league and to have performed on stage at Hampden when Glasvegas supported U2.”
Can you help?
“After eight matchdays of La Liga’s season, Villarreal, the only unbeaten team left, sit in 11th place. They have played one game less than most teams, but even so, can any other side claim a more disappointing unbeaten start to the season?” asks Eugene Francis.
Looking at the Ukrainian Premier League table, I noticed at least three clubs named after bodies of water (Desna Chernihiv, Vorskla Poltava, Chornomorets Odessa)– Does any other top league have more???
— Drew Pihlainen (@drewpihlainen) October 5, 2021
“Recently, Netherlands’ national team manager and former Champions League winner Louis van Gaal went to manage Telstar, a second division side in The Netherlands, for one match to raise money for charity purposes. Did any other manager ever manage a side for one match only, apart from assistant managers temporarily taking over the job? Or even better: did any other manager ever have such a bizarre double-function?” asks Fausto van Bronkhorst.
With Smalling and Abraham scoring for Roma. When was the last time two English players scored for a non British side in Europe/Top League
— Andrew (@andruuu_d) September 30, 2021
“I had a question that came to me after seeing the call up of Saint-Étienne goalkeeper Etienne Green to the England U21 side this week. Have there ever been any other instances of a footballer whose name incorporates both their club’s name and colour so perfectly,” asks Robert Newman.
Saint-Étienne’s Etienne Green. Photograph: DPPI/Laurent Sanson/LiveMedia/REX/Shutterstock
“Dejan Stankovic represented Yugoslavia at the 1998 World Cup, Serbia & Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup & plain old Serbia in 2010, which technically means he represented three different countries at the World Cup. If we were to throw the youth level tournaments into the mix, can any player beat that?” asks Stephen Toal.