[From the archive – 2012]On this week’s main listening report we look at relegation and the language used to describe it. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while there is a transcript and vocabulary support (in bold) which appears at the foot of the report. If you have questions or comments, email us at: admin@languagecaster.com.

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It is almost spring here in Europe which means that we are approaching the business end of the season when championships are decided, teams are promoted and of course relegated. Teams at the bottom of the table begin to worry as they fear that their place in the top tier is under threat and that maybe the following season they will be playing in a lower division.

What is relegation? This occurs when teams finish in the bottom places in the league and are forced to play in a lower division or league the following season. In England this means that the three bottom teams – those in 18th, 19th and 20th positions – are relegated to the Championship or the second tier. This means that teams and players will receive less money, less TV exposure – they will not be on television as much – and play in front of smaller attendances. But money is not the only issue involved – just ask the fans of a relegated club how traumatic going down can be.

Before the season starts some teams are favourites to go down – they are tipped to struggle throughout the season and eventually be relegated, while for others it is more of a surprise as the pundits feel that they are too good to go down – just ask Newcastle and West Ham in recent years in England and River Plate in Argentina last season. The relegation battle begins around February as the teams occupying the bottom spots begin to realise that they are in a dog fight with their fellow strugglers – points are hard to come by as they attempt to reach the magical 40-point mark – this is more or less a guarantee of safety in England.

Some teams seem to be always involved in the relegation battle, think of teams like Wigan and Wolves in England both of whom have been involved in some final-day escapes in recent seasons, while other teams are known as yo-yo sides as they constantly move up and down between the leagues – think of West Brom for instance. Undoubtedly there will be many twists and turns before the season is over as the relegation battle takes shape – there will be tears both of relief and of sadness. Hopefully they will not be yours.


  • tipped to go down: Many feel the team will be relegated before the season starts
  • Too good to go down: Pundits suggest that the team has too many good players or a strong tradition and therefore should stay up
  • To relegate: When one team puts another team down
  • To be relegated: When a team is demoted to the lower division for finishing in the bottom places
  • At the foot of the table: At the bottom of the league
  • To be safe: The team will not be relegated this season
  • 40-point mark: In England many clubs feel that 40 points will be enough to keep a team safe
  • The trap door: The bottom, another name for relegation (the team will fall into the lower division)
  • The relegation battle: The part of the season when a group of teams have to fight to stay alive
  • To languish: To be in a bad position, to struggle
  • To prop up the table: To be bottom, last
  • Lowly: A word to describe a weak side
  • To struggle: To perform badly
  • Fellow strugglers: Other teams that are not doing so well
  • To lift them off the bottom: Sometimes a win can move a team out of the relegation zone
  • The bottom three: The last three teams in a division
  • Relegation spots: The last positions in the league
  • final-day escapes: The team survives on the last day
  • Relegation places: The last positions in the league
  • A dog fight: A scrap, a fight between lower-ranked teams
  • The relegation zone: The last positions in the league
  • A yo-yo side: A team that is promoted and relegated frequently

Related Vocabulary

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and if you have any suggestions, contact us at admin@languagecaster.com

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2011-12Episode 808