Relegation dogfight on the cards

LONDON - Most of the pre-season attention is focused on potential champions yet recent history suggests the most tense - and financially damaging - competition will be at the other end of the Premier League table.

LONDON - Most of the pre-season attention is focused on potential champions yet recent history suggests the most tense - and financially damaging - competition will be at the other end of the Premier League table.

Around £40million (R535million) is the estimated cost of relegation for the three clubs who finish at the foot of the standings and this season, as in most, the three promoted sides are hotly tipped to return to the championship.

Wolves, as champions, Birmingham City and play-off winners Burnley are the clubs who graduated to England's top flight.

A key factor in being able to stave off a swift relegation is the calibre of players recruited by a newly promoted club and, consequently, Wolves and Birmingham will perhaps feel more confident than Burnley, even though all three have broken their transfer records this close season.

Wolves have brought in players such as the experienced forward Kevin Doyle from Reading, as well as midfielder Nenad Milijas from Red Star Belgrade and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, also from Reading.

Birmingham have attracted players such as Lee Bowyer, Joe Hart, on loan from Manchester City, former Scotland captain Barry Ferguson and Christian Benitez. - Sapa-AFP

X