The roof of the Butler Street Stand was rebuilt at a massive cost of £250,000 and with the club unable to pay off the insurers they turned to the playing staff to generate the required funds and with the likes of Jimmy Greenhoff, Alan Hudson and Mike Pejic being sold off Tony Waddington had a threadbare squad and he left the club in March 1977. Former player George Eastham took over but was unable to prevent Stoke losing their First Division status, going down by a single point.
The Stoke fans were totally confused at what was happening to their team and looked for someone to blame. Goals were again in short supply, Stoke failed to find the back of the net for five successive league matches from late November to early January and in fact they managed just 28 goals all season, 21 at home a miserable 7 away. Waddington's gambles on experienced player like John Tudor and Alan Suddick were not successful and after an awful defeat at home to Leicester City on 19 March 1977 Waddington's time at Stoke City was up. He had spent 25 years at the Victoria Ground as manager, assistant and coach and is considered to be the club's greatest manager having helped them win their first major trophy in 1972. He remained an avid supporter of the club until his death in 1994.
Waddington's assistant George Eastham was put in temporary charge with coach Alan A'Court his assistant. With the transfer deadline passed with no new players arrived, so Eastham turned towards the youth team to try to advert the drop, all to no avail and on a sad Monday evening at Villa Park in front of 29,000 fans, Stoke needing a win to stay up, lost 1–0 and were duly relegated to the second tier.