Last season’s champions of England currently find themselves floundering in 17th place, one point above the drop zone and staring the threat of relegation squarely in the face. To make matters worse, the team that lost just three league games last season are winless in 2017 and haven’t registered a single goal since December. This alarming drop in form has lead to bookmakers slashing their odds on Leicester becoming the first side in Premier League history to plummet into the Championship at the first time of asking.
Despite their Premier League win being labelled as a once in a lifetime, freak result, Sky Bet priced Claudio Ranieri’s men at 33/1 to retain their title and 11/2 to land a place in the top four for the second season running. Unthinkably, odds of 22/1 were offered on the Foxes becoming only the second Premier League winning team to be relegated, following in the footsteps of Blackburn Rovers in 1999, four years after the Lancashire side topped the table. Those odds have since nose dived and now sit at 7/4, while a title-winning price of 5,000/1 can once again be found firmly stamped next to the Midlands team’s name.
The instant decline of the champions may be unprecedented in the Premier League, but it certainly isn’t a new phenomenon in football. FC Nürnberg narrowly pipped Werder Bremen to the Bundesliga title in 1968, before entering into a downward spiral that eventually saw them relegated at the end of the 1968/69 season. Just over three decades later, a near-identical fate met Danish side Herfølge BK. Following a glorious title winning campaign in the 1999/00 season, the Superliga champions were brought back down to earth with a bump, eventually finishing the season second bottom of the division.
As with their unlikely title triumph last season, the risk of relegation for Leicester threatens to cost some bookmakers a hefty sum. Bet365 had offered odds of 50/1 on the team from the King Power Stadium going down this term, a price which many bettors lapped up, so much so that the company could lose up to £1 million should the unthinkable actually happen. “Punters could be celebrating another big-priced Leicester winner, albeit at a fraction of the odds of last season's title success," Bet365 spokesman Steve Freeth told reporters.
With just 13 games of the season left, the months ahead are starting to look bleak for Leicester, especially with the likes of Sunderland and Hull City seemingly capable of picking up points in the fight to avoid the division’s trap door. Squeaky bum time certainly seems to have set in for fans of the Foxes, not to mention the bookmakers who could be out of pocket come May.