Back-to-back promotions in football: list of clubs who have achieved feat as Ipswich reach the Premier League

Teams to win back-to-back promotions. (Getty Images)Teams to win back-to-back promotions. (Getty Images)
Teams to win back-to-back promotions. (Getty Images) | Getty Images
Ipswich Town and Wrexham have both secured back-to-back promotions

Winning promotion is an incredible achievement for any Football League club but adapting and thriving in a new division is a whole new challenge. 

Many newly promoted teams often struggle to make the jump up to a higher level of competition and most almost immediately find themselves in a relegation battle. Sheffield United, Luton and Burnley are all example of this in the Premier League while Carlisle United have suffered the heartache of relegation back to League Two just 12 months after their play-off triumph.

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However, the likes of Wrexham and Ipswich Town are both notable examples of teams who have successfully made the jump up to a new division this term. The Red Dragons, backed by the Hollywood riches of Ryan Reynolds have secured automatic promotion into League One for the first time since 2005, while Ipswich have also acheived the incredible feat to reach the Premier League to end a 22-year hiatus.

National League champions Chesterfield are tipped to follow a similar storyline next season and the Derbyshire side are already being tipped as potential contenders to win the League Two title in their first season back in the Football League.

But just how common are back-to-back promotions and who was the last side to achieve the feat?

Here we take a look back at some of the most memorable back-to-back promotions from the last 30 years of football.

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Who was the last side to achieve back-to-back promotions?

Ipswich Town and Wrexham are the most recent teams to achieve back-to-back promotions.

Ipswich’s journey up the division has been inspired by the appointment of former Manchester United and Tottenham coach Kieran McKenna, who in his first managerial role has introduced a cavalier front-foot style of football. The Tractor Boys finished second to win automatic promotion from League One in the 2022/23 season - scoring an incredible 101 goals in the process. They continued that form in the Championship with another second place finish, ahead of the likes of Leeds United and Southampton, whilst scoring a league-high 92 goals.

Wrexham have also enjoyed a tremendous journey from the National League to League One. The Red Dragons edged Notts County to the National League title in the 2022/23 season with a record-breaking 111 points, whilst scoring 116 goals. They adapted wonderfully to life in the Football League this term to finish second with 88 points - 10 clear of fourth placed MK Dons.

Prior to that, the last club to achieve back-to-back promotions are one of the great underdog stories of the last decade in Premier League newboys Luton Town in 2019.

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The Hatters have enjoyed a sensational rise up the football ladder in recent years and were incredibly competing in the National League during the 2013/14 campaign.

Luton won promotion that same season and Nathan Jones guided the club to the third tier of English football in the 2017/18 campaign, with Luton finishing runners-up behind Accrington Stanley.

The Bedfordshire club continued to thrive in the third tier the next season, despite the mid-season departure of Nathan Jones and they lifted the League 1 title the following campaign with an incredible 94 points.

Luton went on to earn a fourth promotion in nine years in last season’s play-offs and they are now hoping to sustain their status in the promised land of the Premier League under manager Rob Edwards.

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Which other clubs have achieved back to back promotions?

Achieving promotion is the pinnacle for many clubs outside the Premier League but a number of teams have achieved it in two consecutive seasons.

In total since 1992 there have been 20 instances of teams achieving back-to-back promotions. 

The most common example of this is teams making the immediate jump from the National League to League 1 and teams making the immediate jump from League 2 to the Championships.

Rotherham United have the special distinction of being the only club to achieve two separate back to back promotions. They won promotion from League Two to the Championship in 1999-2001 and 2012-2014.

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Watford, Norwich, Southampton and most recently Ipswich are the only teams to win promotion from League 1 to the Premier League in back-to-back seasons.

Here is a list of all the teams to achieve two consecutive promotions since the Premier League was formed in 1992.

National League to League 1

  • Wycombe Wanderers: 1992-1994
  • Doncaster Rovers: 2002-2004 
  • Carlisle: 2004-2006
  • Exeter: 2007-2009
  •  Stevenage: 2009-2011
  • Crawley: 2010-2012  
  • Bristol Rovers: 2014-2016
  • Wrexham: 2022-2024

League 2 to Championship

  • Bury: 1995-1997
  • Brighton: 2000-2002
  • Rotherham: 1999-2001
  • Peterborough: 2007-2009
  • Rotherham: 2012-2014
  • Burton Albion: 2014-2016
  • Luton Town: 2017-2019

League 1 to Premier League

  • Watford: 1997-1999
  • Southampton: 2010-2012
  • Norwich: 2009-2011
  • Ipswich: 2022-2024

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