Hull will have to break a strange curse if they are to make Premier League return


Hull City will become the latest club to try to beat an unlikely hoodoo that has conspired against teams that finished fourth in the Championship ever since the play-offs were introduced two decades ago.

Just two clubs have ever been promoted from fourth - the fewest of any of the play-off positions - and most of them don't even make the play-off final.

In 21 seasons of the Championship play-offs the team finishing fourth have been knocked out immediately 12 times. Seven of the nine teams that have gone through to final have then lost.

Graphic comparing promotion from the Championship by league position

The two teams that have won promotion have needed some drama to do it too.

QPR were promoted from fourth two seasons ago - when Bobby Zamora struck a 90th-minute winner when the Londoners were down to 10 men - while Charlton won arguably the most memorable play-off final ever, in 1997/98 against Sunderland, on penalties after the game ended 4-4.

After just falling short of automatic promotion Brighton can take some comfort that they are statistically the most likely to be promoted through in third place.

Bobby Zamora

They'll have to get past Sheffield Wednesday to do it, four clubs have been promoted from sixth - the most recent being Blackpool six years again.

Derby have been promoted from the play-offs once, from three attempts, and outside third-placed Brighton they statistically have the best hope of returning to the top-flight.