Swindon Town hold the unwanted record of being the only team to concede 100 goals in a Premier League season, but could that record be challenged in 2023-24 by Sheffield United?
Goals are the best thing about football, unless they’re going in your goal.
Being in the Premier League is a dream for many, but it turned into a nightmare for some teams who just couldn’t stop opposition teams from scoring past them.
With Sheffield United threatening to join the list in the 2023-24 campaign, we run down those who have conceded the most goals in a Premier League season since the competition began in 1992.
The list will look at the highest overall totals, though it must be noted the first two teams on this list played in Premier League seasons with 42 games for each team, rather than the 38 we have now.
Most Goals Conceded in a Premier League Season
*Swindon Town (1993-94) – 100 goals (2.38 goals per game)
In just the second year of the Premier League, Swindon made a brief appearance in England’s top flight. It had its moments, with wins over Southampton, Tottenham and Coventry and they even did the double over Queens Park Rangers.
However, John Gorman’s side also struggled to keep clean sheets, with just four in their 42 games. Within their first four games of the season, they had conceded five against both Liverpool and Southampton.
Their back-to-back wins against Spurs and Coventry came sandwiched between conceding six at Everton and five at Aston Villa. A 7-1 defeat at Newcastle United in March was the most they conceded in one game, but an insipid farewell outing on the final day also saw them reach three figures for goals conceded, with a 5-0 loss at home to Leeds United taking it to a nice round century.
Swindon remain the only team ever to have shipped 100 goals in a Premier League season.
* 42-game season
*Ipswich Town (1994-95) – 93 goals (2.21 goals per game)
1994-95 saw Ipswich Town concede the second-most goals in a Premier League season (93), but their fans will no doubt be keen for us to point out that it’s only fourth-most in terms of goals per game.
The Tractor Boys only kept three clean sheets in their 42 games, but only once did they concede more than four goals in a game.
That came in their famous 9-0 defeat at Manchester United, which remains tied as the biggest margin of victory in Premier League history. Unsurprisingly, as happened with Swindon, Ipswich finished bottom.
* 42-game season
Derby County (2007-08) – 89 goals (2.34 goals per game)
It remains the worst Premier League campaign of all time, with Derby amassing just 11 points in the 2007-08 season. In terms of goals per game, it is also the second-worst in the league’s history.
It was an ominous start for Paul Jewell’s men, losing 4-0 at Tottenham, 6-0 at Liverpool and 5-0 at Arsenal in their first seven games.
Things didn’t really get better at any point, with Derby keeping just one clean sheet in their final 28 games. Their last 10 games included a 6-1 loss at Chelsea, a 6-0 home defeat to Aston Villa and a 6-2 home loss against Arsenal. They appropriately ended the season by losing 4-0 at Pride Park to Reading.
Fulham (2013-14) – 85 goals (2.24 goals per game)
The first team in this list not to finish bottom of the league, though that presumably wasn’t much consolation for Fulham as 19th place still gets you relegated.
2013-14 was a campaign that saw three managers give it a go, but none of Martin Jol, René Meulensteen or Felix Magath could stop Fulham from conceding goals. It was more a steady stream of goals than regular thrashings, though their biggest margin of defeat was a 6-0 loss at Hull City in late December.
They conceded four against both Everton and Manchester City just before Christmas, with City putting another five past them in the reverse fixture. Both Cardiff City (692) and West Ham (677) actually faced more shots than Fulham (671) in total that season, but only conceded 74 and 51 goals respectively.
Norwich City (2021-22) – 84 goals (2.21 goals per game)
One of the Premier League’s most notorious ‘yo-yo’ clubs, Norwich were promoted back to the Premier League after a very strong 2020-21 season in which they won the Championship with 97 points, conceding just 36 goals in their 46 games.
Expectations were high that they could finally establish themselves in the Premier League, but things frankly could not have started worse. They lost 3-0 to Liverpool and 5-0 to Manchester City in their first two admittedly difficult games, before shipping seven away to Chelsea in late October.
After Dean Smith replaced Daniel Farke they still struggled to pick up points but did at least seem to stop the heavy defeats, though a 5-0 loss at home to Arsenal on Boxing Day suggested a turnaround in form wasn’t imminent. Another 5-0 home defeat to Tottenham on the final day was an appropriate way to sign off their latest brief Premier League visit. Their expected goals (xG) against total of 77.4 was 8.4 more than the next worst team (Leeds – 69.0).
Barnsley (1997-98) – 82 goals (2.16 goals per game)
Like Swindon, it was one and done for Barnsley in the Premier League, though the Tykes weren’t quite as leaky at the back as the Wiltshire side.
A 1-0 win away at Crystal Palace in their second game suggested Barnsley might be a tougher prospect than many anticipated, though a 6-0 home defeat to Chelsea in their next outing indicated otherwise. There was also a 5-0 loss at Arsenal, a 7-0 hammering at Manchester United and a 6-0 thrashing at West Ham to follow.
Barnsley managed to avoid finishing bottom, though, with their 35 points enough to finish ahead of Crystal Palace, but relegation was still the end result.
Burnley (2009-10) – 82 goals (2.16 goals per game)
When Robbie Blake slammed in the winner for Burnley in a 1-0 victory against Manchester United at Turf Moor, Clarets fans must have been very excited about what their first Premier League campaign would bring. Despite another 1-0 win against Everton in their next game, the 2009-10 season mostly brought goals against and ultimately, relegation.
Trips to Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs saw a combined 12 goals go past them, while they also conceded five in away games against West Ham and Aston Villa.
Burnley had been relatively solid at home, until 6-0 and 4-0 defeats respectively against Man City and Liverpool in the last two months of the season. They finished with 30 points and were relegated in 18th.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2011-12) – 82 goals (2.16 goals per game)
Wolves had avoided relegation by a single point in the 2010-11 season, but it turned out they were just delaying the inevitable as Mick McCarthy and then Terry Connor were unable to keep the wolf from the door.
It started well enough, with Wolves conceding just once in their first three games, but from the end of August to the middle of the following April, they didn’t keep another clean sheet in the Premier League. A 4-1 loss at Manchester United was the only time they conceded more than three in a game until an embarrassing 5-1 home defeat to rivals West Brom, which spelled the end of McCarthy’s reign.
Connor oversaw 5-0 defeats away at Fulham and at home to Man Utd, and in reality, Wolves never looked like repeating their achievement of staying up as they finished with just 25 points, 12 off safety.
Will Sheffield United Break the Record in 2023-24?
It’s not looking good for the Blades. We’re now 25 games into the 2023-24 Premier League season and Sheffield United have conceded 65 goals. That’s the most any side has ever conceded at this stage of a Premier League season and four more than the previous highest set by Barnsley in 1997-98 (61).
Their 5-0 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on 18 June means that Chris Wilder’s side have conceded 2.60 goals per game this season in the Premier League, which is the highest ratio seen in a single season in the competition and above Swindon Town’s record-breaking season of 1993-94 when they conceded 100 goals in 42 matches (2.38 per game).