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5 football clubs in decline and the reasons why

You could probably argue that, in Premier League terms, the 2010s were Manchester City’s decade. But whilst new clubs are fighting to the top of the football pyramid, certain traditional clubs seem to be on the way down. In this article we look at a 5 football clubs in decline.


Kaiserslautern won the Bundesliga at the end of the 1997–98 season, only one year after winning the title in the 2nd German division. Just 8 seasons later, Die roten Teufel ended the season in 16th position and were relegated to the Bundesliga 2. They won the title in the 2nd German division in 2010 but would be relegated back only 2 seasons later. The club from Western Germany would never recover and are currently playing in the 3rd division after finishing last in 2018.

Their relegation to the third division marked the first time in their history that they would play at that level. The team that was founded in 1901 is not likely to return to the highest level anytime soon. Though Kaiserslautern won the German championship on four occasions and the German Cup twice, the club can now be considered a football club in decline.

The demise of the club can be traced back to the World Cup of 2006, when Germany hosted the event. The Kaiserslautern’s Fritz-Walter-Stadion was chosen to host four group stage matches and one round of 16 match. The city of Kaiserslautern, with a population of just under 100,000, was always one of the smallest Bundesliga cities and didn’t need its stadium to be expanded. With the owner of the stadium asking of a higher annual rent, the decline of the club hastened.


Monaco’s peak came in 2016-17 when they were praised all over Europe for reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Kylian Mbappe, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Tiemoue Bakayoko all were in the starting 11 in the game against Juventus in the Champions League semi-final second leg in 2017 but were eventually sold over the coming two years for more than £300m.

Monaco did use the money from the outgoing transfers to invest in new players, but the majority of the money ended up being wasted. After Monaco won the French championship in 2017, the club was still able to end in second place the year after. But in 2019, Les Rouges et Blancs finished in 17th position, narrowly avoiding relegation that year. The worst position since 2011.

Monaco have the lowest home attendances in the Ligue 1 and exist in a principality where a big amount of the population are millionaires. This makes it so that they often attract players who want to live a pleasant lifestyle, instead of the desiring to win trophies. The club from the principality doesn’t have the same passionate supporters as the likes of PSG, Marseille and Lyon, for example. That’s something that can’t be created artificially.

Manchester United

Between 1993 and 2013, Man United were by far the dominant force in English football. During these 20 years, they won an incredible 13 Premiership titles while adding the League and FA Cup double on three occasions, as well as landing a League Cup / FA Cup / Champions League treble in 1998-99. But the mighty have fallen since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013.

Since Ferguson went, United have had four managers. David Moyes was picked by Ferguson as his predecessor but failed to make an impact at United. Dutchman Louis van Gaal survived two seasons and was able to win one trophy with Manchester United, the FA Cup 2016. Two days later, Van Gaal and the Dutch members of his staff were sacked by the club.

Though José Mourinho was able to finish in 2nd place with Man United at the end of the 2017-18 season, Man United hasn’t won a Premier League title since 2013 and only made it to the top-4 in 2 occasions. Former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær is now in charge but is struggling to get the Red Devils back on the rails. Executive vice-chairman of Manchester United Ed Woodward is likely going to spend a lot of money next summer, in the hopes of reverting the course of what is currently a football club in decline.


With no European football for the first time in 56 years and unrest off the pitch, the Belgian club hired club legend Vincent Kompany as player-manager at the beginning of the 2019-20 season. It was the perfect alibi to hide the mismanagement of the club since it was taken over by billionaire and self-made man Marc Coucke, who left another first division club Oostende for the Brussels giant.

Even though Anderlecht acquired big names such as Landry Dimata, Samir Nasri, Nacer Chadli and of course Vincent Kompany himself, the club is doing even worse than the previous season. Anderlecht are likely not going to make it to the play-offs this season, which would be the first time since the system was introduced over a decade ago. With Anderlecht being a football club in decline, competitor Club Brugge has now taken over as the biggest club in Belgium.

AC Milan

AC Milan won the Serie A championship in the 2010-11 season, finishing second the following season and third in the campaign after that. But now that we are entering a new decade, the club has failed to finish in the top four since 2013. The long absence from the Champions league automatically decreased Milan’s chances of winning a silverware any time soon and I Rossoneri is now not able to attract big names anymore.

Though Milan have been investing a ton of money on mediocre players, the club with seven European Cup/Champions League titles (Italian record) hasn’t been able make a comeback as a top performing team in both Italian and European football. AC Milan are a football club in decline, and at this moment they’re far closer to dropping into Serie B than they are to competing with Juventus or their crosstown rivals Inter Milan.

During the January transfer, the football team in decline acquired former striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, 38 years old, in hopes of restoring its former status. But the ex-Sweden international is currently in the winter of his career and Milan will need to invest in young talents in the coming years if the club wants to make it back to the Champions League in the coming years.

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