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Could Aston Villa suffer successive relegations?

It's a long fall from the top.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It has been a horrible week for Villa fans, right?

Our club captain has been suspended, again. Adama's set for a pay rise despite barely featuring. Some Villa fans kicked off about disabled seating plans. Villa might have to sign players on a free transfer because there's no cash. Two board members had a row with Lerner and subsequently left the football club.

That's without mentioning that Aston Villa have of course been relegated to the Football League Championship and will start play in the lower league of English football this summer. There's no clear guarantee that Aston Villa will return to the Premier League next season, even worse, there are fears the club could eventually succumb to a relegation to League 1, the third tier of English football.

What prevents me becoming too fearful of another drop is the fact that in the worst footballing period that Aston Villa have had (2015 through 2016), they've still managed to get results against clubs that emulate the playing styles of Championship-level teams as well as teams in that league. Villa have beat Bournemouth at the start of this season, they beat Birmingham City in the League Cup, there have been victories against Norwich, Notts County, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion among others. Villa won't succeed based on this, but it's certainly an encouraging sign for a team aiming to scrape into the Football League Playoff next season.

There is, however, a precedent set by badly managed clubs that have fallen from the Premier League.

Villa might have more in common with Nottingham Forest, than a Leeds United. Nottingham, like Villa, slowly slid into the depths of the English Football Pyramid. As you can see below, Forest hit the heights at the summit of English football before sliding down to the third tier (League 1). Financial worries didn't help, but it was far from the fate that befell Leeds United and Portsmouth.

Villa might be safe from the financial implosion of Leeds and Portsmouth, but their tale must be told. Overspending and mountains of debt led to point deductions from the Football League. Money wasn't working for either club on or off the pitch. Leeds managed to find purchase in League One and rebuild, whilst Portsmouth dived headfirst into a freefall, from which they have only just recovered.

Now, Randy Lerner is a bad owner. He has allowed Villa to sleepwalk into the Championship, but I doubt Villa will end up in administration under his watch (although, there's no reason to believe otherwise). You don't hire people like Tim Sherwood, Remi Garde, Beirnstein and King if there's no care left for the club, you aim for the cheapest and easiest options. However, if Villa were sold to an owner or group that simply hit Lerner with a 'can't refuse' offer and then went on to strip Villa of their assets in the hope they can turn a profit, we're in for a bad time.

If Lerner stays, at best Villa might get promoted based on their own work outside of his influence and at worst, it may be a 5+ year stay in the Championship. Villa have a squad capable of remaining in the Championship, but they are nowhere near promotion material in their current state and only time will tell.

The saying goes 'it's darkest before the dawn', but I'm not sure if we've witnessed the darkest times yet at Villa Park. Honestly, who knows what will happen?