I thought I’d start this week off with a look at Atalanta’s final league positions since the start of the Serie A era (1929). I’ve always viewed them as a yo-yo club as they’re always hovering around Serie A’s lower reaches or Serie B’s upper end whenever I check on them. I want to discover how long this has gone on for, and if they’ve ever had a long period in the top flight or a grim stretch in the lower leagues.
My customary rundown of Atalanta’s history will follow, but curiosity makes me want to get this out of the way first. Lets start with the early days:-
- 1929-30: 8th in Serie B.
- 1930-31: 6th in Serie B.
- 1931-32: 4th in Serie B.
- 1932-33: 16th in Serie B.
- 1933-34: 5th in Serie B, Group B.
- 1934-35: 7th in Serie B, Group B.
- 1935-36: 10th in Serie B.
Atalanta were placed in Serie B, Italy’s (then) newly-reconstructed second tier, after being relegated from the Italian Football Championship’s National Division in 1928-29. Thus follows a solid spell in Serie B with the Nerazzurri only coming close to promotion in 1931-32.
The competition was split into smaller, regional groups between 1933 and ’35 with Atalanta failing to make the top three (and therefore qualify for the final round) on both occasions. The split actually saved Atalanta from relegation to the third tier, as they’d finished 16th in an 18-team league in 1933.
- 1936-37: 2nd in Serie B (promoted).
- 1937-38: 15th in Serie A (relegated).
- 1938-39: 3rd in Serie B.
- 1939-40: 1st in Serie B (promoted).
Two promotions in four years, split by a relegation and a credible third-place Serie B finish, mark the start of Atalanta’s first yo-yo period. The Nerazzurri were relegated from a 16-team Serie A in 1938 and only missed-out on an immediate return as their goal difference was one worse than Venezia’s. Both teams had finished on 43 points, with champions Fiorentina on 45.
- 1940-41: 6th in Serie A.
- 1941-42: 13th in Serie A.
- 1942-43: 10th in Serie A.
- 1943-44: League suspended during World War II.
- 1944-45: League suspended during World War II.
- 1945-46: No Serie A competition.
- 1946-47: 9th in Serie A.
- 1947-48: 5th in Serie A.
- 1948-49: 16th in Serie A.
- 1949-50: 8th in Serie A.
- 1950-51: 12th in Serie A.
- 1951-52: 12th in Serie A.
- 1952-53: 9th in Serie A.
- 1953-54: 10th in Serie A.
- 1954-55: 13th in Serie A.
- 1955-56: 15th in Serie A.
- 1956-57: 15th in Serie A.
- 1957-58: 17th in Serie A (relegated).
15 consecutive seasons in the top flight ended with relegation in 1958. This remains Atalanta’s longest ever Serie A run, and their 5th-place finished in 1947-48 is the highest they’ve ever finished on the Italian football league ladder.
The Nerazzurri finished strongly in 1941 but only avoided relegation by a single point the following season. Serie A was suspended for three years during Italy’s involvement in the Second World War and didn’t resume again until 1946. A steady series of midtable finishes followed 1948’s 5th-place.
They slowly slumped towards relegation when Serie A was an 18-team competition in the fifties. Two years of close shaves preceded Atalanta’s eventual relegation in 1958: the Nerazzurri finished second-bottom in an incredibly tight league (just 10 points separated 5th and 17th, with five teams (12th to 16th) finishing on 30 points.
- 1958-59: 1st in Serie B (promoted).
- 1959-60: 11th in Serie A.
- 1960-61: 9th in Serie A.
- 1961-62: 6th in Serie A.
- 1962-63: 8th in Serie A (Coppa Italia winners).
- 1963-64: 11th in Serie A.
- 1964-65: 11th in Serie A.
- 1965-66: 14th in Serie A.
- 1966-67: 11th in Serie A.
- 1967-68: 13th in Serie A.
- 1968-69: 16th in Serie A (relegated).
Atalanta returned on the first time of asking and it was business as usual during this 10-year Serie A stay. They finished in positions similar to those of the forties and fifties. They finished rock bottom in 1969, winning a measly four games out of 30.
Notably, Atalanta won the Coppa Italia in the 1962-63 season. I won’t say too much about that at the moment as I’ll try to cover it later this week.
- 1969-70: 15th in Serie B.
- 1970-71: 2nd in Serie B (promoted).
- 1971-72: 10th in Serie A.
- 1972-73: 14th in Serie A (relegated).
- 1973-74: 11th in Serie B.
- 1974-75: 6th in Serie B.
- 1975-76: 10th in Serie B.
- 1976-77: 2nd in Serie B (promoted).
- 1977-78: 9th in Serie A.
- 1978-79: 15th in Serie A (relegated).
More up-and-down action split by a four-year run in Serie B. What’s odd is that Atalanta finished 9th in 1978 but still couldn’t avoid relegation the next season, showing they are a yo-yo team in more ways than one. Four promotions & relegations in 10 years: we’re not quite at Lecce level of yo-yo-ness yet, but we’re getting there.
- 1979-80: 9th in Serie B.
- 1980-81: 18th in Serie B (relegated).
- 1981-82: 1st in Serie C1, Group A (promoted).
A disastrous 1980-81 saw Atalanta finished second-bottom of Serie B after losing a play-off to Taranto, who were also relegated on 30 points. Atalanta slipped into the third tier for the first time since the Italian league system’s 1929 restructuring. This dark period of the club’s history didn’t last long, however, and Atalanta were back in Serie B for the 1982-83 season.
- 1982-83: 8th in Serie B.
- 1983-84: 1st in Serie B (promoted).
- 1984-85: 10th in Serie A.
- 1985-86: 8th in Serie A.
- 1986-87: 15th in Serie A (relegated).
- 1987-88: 4th in Serie B (promoted).
Three league changes in six seasons: can anyone else see a pattern emerging here? Atalanta even managed to get themselves relegated one season after finishing 8th.
- 1988-89: 6th in Serie A.
- 1989-90: 7th in Serie A.
- 1990-91: 10th in Serie A.
- 1991-92: 11th in Serie A.
- 1992-93: 8th in Serie A.
- 1993-94: 17th in Serie A (relegated).
Another solid run in Serie A after promotion in 1988. Atalanta performed superbly in their first two seasons back in the back time, and qualified for the UEFA cup on both occasions. Again I don’t want to say too much about these seasons as I think they’d make a good topic to cover later in the week.
Just when the Nerazzurri looked like establishing themselves as a decent midtable side… boom, along comes relegation. In a season that saw Inter Milan survive by just a single point, Atalanta were relegated by 10. Boo hiss.
- 1994-95: 4th in Serie B (promoted).
- 1995-96: 13th in Serie A.
- 1996-97: 10th in Serie A.
- 1997-98: 16th in Serie A (relegated).
- 1998-99: 6th in Serie B.
- 1999-00: 4th in Serie B (promoted).
- 2000-01: 7th in Serie A.
- 2001-02: 9th in Serie A.
- 2002-03: 15th in Serie A (relegated).
- 2003-04: 5th in Serie B (promoted).
- 2004-05: 20th in Serie A (relegated).
- 2005-06: 1st in Serie B (promoted).
- 2006-07: 8th in Serie A.
- 2007-08: 9th in Serie A.
- 2008-09: 11th in Serie A.
- 2009-10: 18th in Serie A (relegated).
- 2010-11: 1st in Serie A (promoted).
This is the most significant of Atalanta’s yo-yo spells, as they were only once able to muster more than three seasons in the same division. The Nerazzurri were like a Pro-Yo between 2002 and ’06, bouncing up-and-down between the top two years for four consecutive seasons. Atalanta returned to Serie A for the current season after winning last year’s Serie B title: they are currently 13th after 11 games, but would be 5th if it weren’t for a six-point penalty.
I haven’t sat down and compared Atalanta’s finishes with Lecce’s but, on the surface, they look just as crazy. A yo-yo club in every possible way, but can they stay-up this season? If they continue the excellent start they’ve made, absolutely.
Atalanta Since 1929
- Highest finish: 5th in Serie A (1947-48).
- Lowest finish: 1st in Serie C1, Group A (1981-82).
- Longest Serie A run: 15 seasons, 1940-58 (minus three years for Serie A’s suspension during WW2).
- Longest Serie B run: 7 seasons, 1929-36.
- Total promotions: 13.
- Total relegations: 12.