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.
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|
|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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