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Leicester City FC

Despite high expectations, Leicester City had a disappointing campaign in 2021/22 after missing out on European qualification which might be a blessing in disguise for the new season. The club is set to feature in its 9th straight outing in the English Premiership, its longest streak at the top-flight in over 50 years.

Leicester City FC comes from the urban area in the non-metropolitan East Midlands county of Leicestershire. The club became the latest addition to the list of English champions when it shocked the world by winning the Premier League in 2016/17. It has also picked up 3 League Cups and an FA Cup.

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Identity

Leicester City uses royal blue shirts and white shorts as its home colours. An image of a fox first adorned the crest in 1948 as Leicestershire is well known for foxes and fox-hunting. Since 1992, the badge has depicted a fox-head overlaid on a Cinquefoil which resembles the city coat of arms. Hence the team is nicknamed the Foxes.

While Leicester City played at various grounds during the early years, it has used two stadiums as its home-venue for more than 125 years. It acquired Filbert Street in 1891 and stayed there until moving to a new 32,500 capacity arena in 2002. Originally called Walkers Stadium, it was renamed King Power Stadium by the new owners.

The biggest rival for Leicester City supporters is widely considered to be Nottingham Forest, which lies just 24 miles away. Its other long-term rival club from the region is Derby County. Leicester also shares a big rivalry with West Midlands side Coventry City, known as the M69 derby because of the motorway connecting the two cities.

History

The birth of Leicester City is attributed to a group of boys from the Wyggeston School in 1884. It was originally known as Leicester Fosse as it played on a field by Fosse Road and it joined the Football Association in 1890. It used 5 separate grounds before settling at Filbert Street in 1891 when it also joined the Midlands League.

The Early Decades

Leicester Fosse was elected to the Football League after finishing in 2nd position of the Midlands League in 1893/94. Therefore it appeared for its first season in the Football League Second Division in 1894/9 and narrowly missed out on a promotion opportunity after finishing in 4th position.

The club remained in the Second Division until the end of the 19th century after getting close to a promotion once more in 1898/99 when it claimed 3rd spot at the end of the season. But Leicester dropped into the bottom-half at the start of the 20th century before managing to claim 3rd position again in 1906/07.

In the following 1907/08 campaign, Leicester secured its first promotion by finishing as runners-up behind Bradford City in the Second Division. In 1908/09, it began its maiden season in the top-flight of English football but was immediately relegated after ending at the bottom of the First Division in 20th spot.

Leicester could not earn a quick return to the top-tier after finishing the 1909/10 season in 5th position of the Second Division. However, the club dropped down to the lower-end in the following years and finished in the bottom-3 at the end of 1913/14 and 1914/15 but managed to get re-elected on both occasions.

World War I would halt the Football League for the next 4 years before it resumed with the 1919/20 campaign in which Leicester ended in 14th position of the Second Division. The club finished in 3rd spot at the end of 1922/23 when it lost out on promotion to the top-tier due to a lower goal-average.

After disappointing results in the next campaign, Leicester managed to gain promotion to the top-flight by winning the Second Division title in 1924/25. It appeared for its 2nd outing at the First Division in 1925/26 and was able to retain its status for another season by scraping through to 17th position.

Yet Leicester jumped up to 7th position in the following campaign before going to finish 5 points behind the First Division champions Everton in 3rd place. In 1925/26, Leicester City ended as runners-up after losing the title by a single point to Sheffield Wednesday which remained its highest-ever finish for almost a century.

But within a couple of years, Leicester quickly fell to the bottom-end of the table. It was able to dodge relegation in 1931/32 and 1932/33 despite ending in 19th position. In 1934/35, the club finished in 21st position of the First Division standings and was thus relegated from the top-tier for the 2nd time.

Leicester spent the next couple of seasons in the Second Division before winning the title in 1936/37 to secure its return to the top-flight. The club returned to the First Division for 1937/38 and avoided the drop after taking 16th spot. But in 1938/39, it ended in 22nd position and was relegated once again.

The Post War Era

At this time, World War II began in Europe and the Football League was suspended for 7 years. It resumed with the 1947/48 campaign which Leicester City began in the Second Division. The Foxes occupied a mid-table spot in the 2nd tier for the next few years but reached its first FA Cup final in 1948/49 but lost 1-3 to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

In 1953/54, Leicester City won the Second Division title for the 3rd time to secure another promotion to the top-flight. The club returned to the First Division after 15 years but suffered an immediate relegation after finishing the 1954/55 campaign down in 21st position.

Leicester City challenged for an instant promotion in 1955/56 but ultimately missed out after ending the campaign in 5th spot. In the following 1956/57 season, the Foxes cruised away with the Second Division title once again to register another promotion to the top-tier of English football.

On its return to the First Division in 1957/58 Leicester had to battle long and hard to escape relegation on the final day by finishing in 18th position. In 1958/59, the club had to once again wait until the last day of the season to ensure its survival in the top-tier after ending in 19th spot.

However, Leicester was able to make steady progress in the next couple of seasons as it claimed 6th place at the end of 1960/61. The Foxes also entered its 2nd FA Cup final but lost 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur. In 1962/63, it took 4th spot in the First Division and reached the FA Cup final once again where it was beaten 1-3 by Manchester United.

Despite falling back into the mid-table in 1963/64, Leicester was able to clinch its first major silverware by lifting the League Cup with a 3-4 victory on aggregate over Stoke City. The Foxes had dropped to 18th spot in 1964/65 although it had reached the League Cup final once again but lost its title 3-2 on aggregate to Chelsea.

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Up & Down

While Leicester could not reach any more cup-finals in the next few years, it did manage to get away from the drop-zone and end up in the mid-table. But in 1968/69, it was relegated from the top-flight after finishing in 21st position. Still the Foxes had reached the FA Cup final but lost the match 0-1 to Manchester City.

After 12 years at the top-flight, Leicester competed in the Second Division for 1969/70 and fell short of an immediate return by just a couple of points to finish in 3rd position. In 1970/71, the club picked up the Second Division title for the 5th time to earn another promotion to the top-tier.

Leicester returned to the First Division in 1971/72 and ensured its survival with a 12th place finish. The Foxes hung around in the mid-table for the next 5 years, finishing as high as 7th place in 1975/76. But it ended at the rock-bottom of the league in 1977/78 and was relegated once again.

On moving back to the Second Division in 1978/79, Leicester City nearly dropped further down to 3rd tier after ending in 17th position. Nevertheless, the team delivered a strong comeback in the subsequent 1979/80 campaign and sealed promotion by winning the league on the final day after an open title-race.

But once again, its return to the First Division proved to be a short one as Leicester was relegated at the end of 1980/81 having ended the campaign in 21st position. After being unable to get an immediate promotion, Leicester took 3rd place in the Second Division for 1982/83 to move back to the top-flight.

In 1993/84, Leicester was back in the First Division and managed to avoid the drop by finishing in 15th position. However, it was unable to get out of the lower-half in the next few years and escaped relegation by a single point in 1986/87. At the end of 1987/88, it finished in 20th spot and was dropped down to the 2nd tier.

The Contemporary Period

Far from securing a swift promotion, Leicester City lagged at the lower end of the Second Division for the next few years and almost went down to the 3rd tier after ending the 1990/91 season in 22nd spot. Yet it was able to secure 4th spot in 1991/92 to earn a promotion-playoff berth but lost in the final to Blackburn Rovers.

The Premier League Era

For the 1992/93 campaign, Leicester moved into Division One with the creation of the Premier League as the new top-flight of England. The Foxes took 6th place but failed to earn promotion through the playoffs. In 1993/94, it finished in 4th position and went past Tranmere Rovers and Derby County in the playoffs to seal promotion.

Leicester City started its maiden Premier League campaign in 1994/95 but ended up a whopping 19 points behind safety to suffer a swift relegation back to the 2nd tier. But the Foxes were able to get back up immediately after taking 5th spot of Division One in 1995/96 before defeating Stoke City and Crystal Palace in the playoffs.

On its return to the Premier League in 1996/97, Leicester City finished the season inside the top-half in 9th position. The Foxes had earlier lifted the League Cup with a 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough in the replay of the final to earn its maiden qualification to the UEFA Cup for the upcoming season.

Leicester remained at the edge of the top-half and ended the next couple of seasons in 10th position. The Foxes reached the League Cup final in 1998/99 but went down 0-1 to Tottenham Hotspur. It went to the final again in 1999/2000 and this time was able to notch a 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers to lift the trophy for a 3rd time.

However, Leicester dropped out from the top-half of the Premier League after ending the 2000/01 campaign in 13th spot. And in the following 2001/02 season, Leicester City was once again relegated from the top-flight after ending at the very bottom of the league-table in 20th position.

After dropping down to the 2nd tier, Leicester managed to secure a direct promotion by finishing as the runners-up of Division One in 2002/03. Therefore the Foxes made an immediate return back to the Premier League but it turned out to be a short stay after the club ended 2003/04 down in 18th place.

So for 2004/05, Leicester was back in the 2nd tier once more which was renamed as the Football League Championship and ended the season in a disappointing 15th position. It dropped further down the table in the next couple of years before getting relegated at the end of 2007/08.

And therefore Leicester City featured in the 3rd tier of English football for the first time which thankfully for its supporters turned out to be its only campaign at that level. The Foxes comfortably picked up the League One title in 2008/09 to secure an immediate promotion back to the 2nd tier.

Having returned to the Championship in 2009/10, Leicester came close to earning successive promotions after finishing the season in 5th spot but lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs. It earned another shot after taking 6th spot in 2012/13 but went out at the semi-finals once again.

A Fairy Tale Rise

In 2013/14, Leicester City secured a direct route back to the top-flight by winning the Championship with a record haul of 102 points. It returned to the Premier League after 10 years in 2014/15 although it looked to be heading towards certain relegation until it produced a late run of brilliant form to make a miraculous escape.

Therefore, Leicester was among the relegation favourites in 2015/16 with ludicrous 5000 to 1 betting-odds to win the Premier League. Yet the impossible turned into reality as the top-dogs failed to muster any form while the Foxes remained the most consistent side and successfully completed its fairy-tale run to the Premier League title.

Leicester City made its UEFA Champions League debut in 2016/17 and progressed up to the quarter-finals in what is still its only appearance at the competition before bowing out to Atlético de Madrid. But domestically it was pitted in serious relegation strife even though it avoided the drop with a strong end to the season.

After going through many different highs and lows over the past few years, Leicester City had developed a somewhat maverick image. Nevertheless, it was able to establish itself into the upper mid-table of the Premier League with consecutive 9th place finishes in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Leicester took another step forward by finishing in 5th spot of the Premier League at the end of 2019/20. In 2020/21, the Foxes reached the FA Cup final after more than 4 decades and produced a 1-0 victory over Chelsea to finally lift the trophy. But the team lost its last couple of league-games which denied it a top-4 spot by a single point.

So expectations were high for Leicester City in 2021/22 and it made a bright start by bagging the FA Community Shield. But it produced a somewhat inconsistent league campaign and had to settle for an 8th place finish. The Foxes did reach the semi-final of the new UEFA Conference League where they lost against eventual winners AS Roma.

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Author: Keith Brown