WATFORD, England — Three managers, 24 losses and around $130 million later, Fulham has been relegated from the Premier League.
The London club's return to the English top flight will last just one season after its demotion was confirmed with a 4-1 loss at Watford on Tuesday.
With Huddersfield relegated this past weekend with a record-tying six games to go, there is only one spot still to be decided. Cardiff is currently occupying the final relegation berth, five points from safety with seven games left.
It has been a tough season for Fulham, which started the campaign with optimism after American owner Shad Khan backed an offseason buying spree that made the club one of the biggest spenders in Europe.
The majority of the new signings failed to make an impact and Slavisa Jokanovic, the manager who guided the club to promotion, was fired with Fulham in last place after 12 games. His replacement, Claudio Ranieri, couldn't revive the team — he was also fired in February, after 3½ months in charge — and relegation has looked inevitable for a few weeks under caretaker coach Scott Parker.
It was sealed in a heavy loss at Vicarage Road, and by a side with one eye on an FA Cup semifinal match at the weekend.
"I'm gutted," Parker said. "I realized how big the task was, we all understood how big the task of staying in the division was. But the most disappointing thing is the way we lost today."
Watford took the lead through Abdoulaye Doucoure in the 23rd minute and responded to a 33rd-minute equalizer by Ryan Babel by scoring three times in a 13-minute span from the 63rd, through Will Hughes, Troy Deeney and Kiko Femenia.
Fulham has 17 points from 33 games and a goal difference of minus 46 — the worst of any team in the five big leagues in Europe. The 76 goals conceded is also a league high, 17 more than any other team.
"That's just us in a snapshot — if you haven't watched us this season but then saw that period when two, three and four went in, that's us," Parker said. "I'm sure there's a mental issue. When you're at the bottom, everything becomes a lot harder. There's been a naivety in certain instances of certain games, and that was prevalent tonight."