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Does the curse of third place exist?

May 7th, 2019 Football, Home, Media & Journalism, News & Events, Press Release

Leeds United finished the Championship season in third place, a position many teams dread heading into the play-offs – but are they right to be worried?

The Championship play-offs end with the most expensive game in world football, as the winner gets the treasured and valuable final place in next season’s Premier League – worth at least £100million to the winner.

Leeds will take on Derby Couty in the play-off semi-finals, whilst Aston Villa face West Bromwich Albion – but does the finishing position matter? Many presume finishing third is something of a curse and it is the worst place to finish…but is there any truth?

OddsMonkey has looked back through the history of play-offs and the good news for Leeds fans is that finishing third in the Championship – actually is the best place to finish.

Position Wins Win percentage
3rd 11 36.66%
4th 6 20%
5th 8 26.66%
6th 5 17.00%

Looking back, nearly 40% of all promoted teams from the play-odds have finished third, with next best being fifth at 26%.

Last season it was Fulham who were promoted and they indeed finished third.

Of the four teams to have made it though, it is only sixth placed Derby who have won the play-off before.

Championship play-off past winners
Year Winners (number of wins) Runners-up
1987 Charlton Athletic (1) Leeds United
1988 Middlesbrough (1) Chelsea
1989 Crystal Palace (1) Blackburn Rovers
1990 Swindon Town (1) Sunderland
1991 Notts County (1) Brighton & Hove Albion
1992 Blackburn Rovers (1) Leicester City
1993 Swindon Town (2) Leicester City
1994 Leicester City (1) Derby County
1995 Bolton Wanderers (1) Reading
1996 Leicester City (2) Crystal Palace
1997 Crystal Palace (2) Sheffield United
1998 Charlton Athletic (2) Sunderland
1999 Watford (1) Bolton Wanderers
2000 Ipswich Town (1) Barnsley
2001 Bolton Wanderers (2) Preston North End
2002 Birmingham City (1) Norwich City
2003 Wolverhampton Wanderers (1) Sheffield United
2004 Crystal Palace (3) West Ham United
2005 West Ham United (1) Preston North End
2006 Watford (2) Leeds United
2007 Derby County (1) West Bromwich Albion
2008 Hull City (1) Bristol City
2009 Burnley (1) Sheffield United
2010 Blackpool (1) Cardiff City
2011 Swansea City (1) Reading
2012 West Ham United (2) Blackpool
2013 Crystal Palace (4) Watford
2014 Queens Park Rangers (1) Derby County
2015 Norwich City (1) Middlesbrough
2016 Hull City (2) Sheffield Wednesday
2017 Huddersfield Town (1) Reading
2018 Fulham (1) Aston Villa

OddsMonkey spokesman Peter Watton commented: “Leeds will obviously still be gutted about missing out on the top-two but as our research shows, finishing third is a pretty good omen.

“Indeed Bookmakers are favouring Marcelo Bielsa’s sides to come through and are 9/5 although Aston Villa – who finished fifth and lost last year’s final are just 2/1 to go one better and return to the top-flight.”

Selected Championship play-off odds:
Leeds – 9/5
Aston Villa – 2/1
West Brom – 7/2
Derby – 9/2

*Odds correct at time of writing

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Spokesman Peter Watton is available for further comment or one-on-one interviews on this subject or anything connected with a betting market – for more information please contact press@oddsmonkey.com or call 01916404262