• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • Remembering Coventry City's Last Premier League Stint

Remembering Coventry City's Last Premier League Stint

Remembering Coventry City's Last Premier League Stint
James Fenton
By James Fenton
Share this article

Ahead of the today's EFL Championship Final, Balls takes a look back at the last time Coventry City mixed it with the Premier League's elite.

It's funny the things you assume when you first get into football.

Back in the mid-1990s, as I was first being exposed to the bright lights of the Premier League, Coventry City were one of the main players in the recently-rebranded English top flight.

In their sky blue jerseys with Peugeot emblazoned across the front, the Midlands club were a mainstay of my sticker albums and weekly Match or Shoot magazines.

Much like a youngster today who might assume that, say, Leicester, will remain in the top flight forever, I never suspected that Coventry would eventually slip away and end up sliding all the way down to the fourth tier of English football.

That solitary season in League Two in 2017/18 appears to be the nadir of the club's stark decline, that has coincided with much-publicised financial issues.

This weekend though, former Manchester United striker Mark Robins has the chance to lead the Sky Blues back to the promised land.


Coventry City on brink of top flight return

Coventry come up against Luton Town, another supposedly unfashionable outfit, in an EFL Championship play-off final that many see as a throwback to a bygone era.

While younger readers may snigger at the idea of Coventry competing in the Premier League, their previous stint at the highest level brought them plenty of high points.

Having achieved promotion from the old Division 2 in 1967, Coventry were actually the fourth-longest serving club in the top flight at the time it became the Premier League in 1992, after Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool, who remain in place to this day.


Still basking in the glow of their unlikely FA Cup success in 1987, Coventry made the Premier League gravy train by the skin of their teeth, narrowly avoiding relegation at the end of the 1991/92 season by finishing just two points ahead of - you've guessed it - Luton Town.

Despite this, the club got off to a flyer in the first PL season, under the management of Bobby Gould, who had returned during the summer for a second spell at Highfield Road.

Gould led his side to six wins from their opening eight games in 1992/93, a run of form which took them as high as second in the table.


Only seven more wins would follow throughout the campaign though, but there was a memorable one in the form of a 5-1 victory at home to Liverpool.

Irish connections at Coventry City

Liverpool must have liked what they saw of Coventry's centre-back on that day, as they were convinced to splash out £3.6 million for future Ireland international Phil Babb, a fee that was a British record for a defender at the time.

Some of this money was re-invested in the purchase of Dion Dublin from Manchester United, a man whose goals would help managers like Ron Atkinson and Gordon Strachan to keep Coventry safe from relegation over the next few years.


The striker went on to share the 1997/98 Premier League Golden Boot award with Michael Owen and Chris Sutton, with the trio all scoring 18 goals over the course of that campaign.

While Dublin's goals for Coventry helped him on his later entry to the Premier League's exclusive '1oo club,' it was a Dubliner who took on much of the goalscoring responsibility once the older striker had departed for Aston Villa.

Twelve of Robbie Keane's 126 Premier League goals came during a solitary season with Coventry in 1999/2000, and to this day he and Dublin are the only players who have represented the club and hit a ton of goals in the competition.


Keane's talents weren't going unnoticed by the biggest clubs, and eventually Inter Milan paid Coventry £13 million to take him to Italy.

In leaving Highfield Road, Keane bid farewell to his club and international teammate Gary Breen, who was also attracting attention for his stellar performances at centre-half.

Both men would go on to score for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup, but not before Breen was part of the side that eventually got relegated under Strachan at the end of the 2000/01 season.

Luck had ran out after a number of great escapes, most notably in 1997, when Coventry only stayed up due to Middlesbrough being deducted three points due to cancelling a fixture at short-notice.

Wembley awaits

All of the aforementioned alumni are sure to be cheering on their former side when they walk out against Luton at Wembley on Saturday, with current Irish stars Sean Maguire and Luke McNally among their number.

It's unlikely that promotion would lead to another 33-year spell in the top flight, but for the kids of today, it would serve as a timely reminder that Coventry City have plenty of history when it comes to competing with English football's elite.

The 2023 EFL Championship play-off final between Coventry and Luton kicks of at 4.45pm on Saturday, and the match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.

See Also:Where Are They Now? The Borussia Dortmund Team That Stormed Europe In 2013


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com