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When Manchester City dropped into the third division

May 4, 2017

This day in football history

On 3 May 1998, Manchester City were relegated to the English third tier.

It was their second relegation in three years, as City had just dropped from the Premier League in 1996. They went through a series of managerial changes, sacking manager Alan Ball at the start of the 1996–97 season. He was replaced by Steve Coppell, who resigned just a few weeks later, claiming that the job was too stressful. City then turned to former Nottingham Forest manager Frank Clark, who led them to a 14th-place finish. As City continued to struggle the following season, Clark was sacked in February 1998 and replaced by former Oldham and Everton manager Joe Royle.

City’s battle for Division One survival went down to 3 May 1998, the final day of the season. City started the day in the second bottom position with 45 points, just one point behind Port Vale, Portsmouth, and Stoke City. City defeated Stoke 5–2, but Port Vale and Portsmouth also won their matches, so City finished third bottom, one point away from safety, and were relegated to Division Two.

Royle managed to improve City’s fortunes, earning immediate promotion back to Division One in 1999 and then to the Premier League in 2000, but was sacked in 2001 as City slipped back down to Division One.



Brian Seal


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