Which team has avoided relegation from the Premier League with just 34 points?

The Football Association (FA) Premier League was established in 1992 with 22 inaugural members and, at the end of the 1994/95 season, reduced to 20 members ‘to promote development and excellence at club and international level’. Since 1995/96, conventional wisdom has it that 38 points or, in other words, an average of one point per match, is the threshold for avoiding relegation to the second tier of English football, the Championship.

Of course, the bottom three clubs in the Premier League table at the end of the season are relegated, but, since 1995/96, the club finishing fourth from bottom has amassed a fraction over 35 points, such that, more often than not, 36 points has been sufficient to secure safety in the top tier. In fact, since 2000/01, just four clubs – West Ham United in 2002/03, Sheffield United in 2006/07, Birmingham City in 2010/11 and Newcastle United in 2015/16 – have been relegated with 37 or more points.

The team that managed to retain Premier League status with a relatively paltry total of 34 points was West Bromwich Albion in 2004/05. Newly promoted, The Baggies were bottom of the Premier League table over Christmas, having already replaced manager Gary Megson with former ‘club hero’ Bryan Robson. Albion remained rooted at the foot of the table until February 22, 2005, but won three and drew three of their next seven matches, lifting them, temporarily, out of the relegation zone.

However, a 4-0 defeat by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium halted their progress and, heading into the final round of fixtures on May 15, 2005, they were bottom again. On the final day, a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth proved sufficient, though, with relegation rivals Southampton and Norwich both losing and Crystal Palace only drawing, to leave West Bromwich Albion in a precarious, but safe, sseventeenth place.

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