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Reading’s position is historically stronger in Championship play-off final


This Monday, Webley stadium houses the last hope for either Reading or Huddersfield Town to make it to the Premier League next season. Having bested play-off peers Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham, the two sides are now fighting it out for glory, with the weight of their fans and clubs resting heavily on their shoulders. But does how a team finishes in the Championship table impact their chances in the final? With stats from Opta, has determined that, historically, 3rd ranked Reading is in the stronger position than 5th ranked Huddersfield Town.

Reading's position is historically stronger in Championship play-off final
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A third of thirds have won

Unsurprisingly, the teams ranked 3rd in the Championship, just out of reach of immediate qualification, have the highest win rate in the playoffs. In the entire history of the Premier League, 33% of the teams who were promoted through the playoffs were ranked 3rd in the table—meaning that Reading has the strongest position going into the final 

However, Huddersfield Town still has a chance. Teams ranking 5th in the table have made it all the way through the playoffs 25% of the time.

Sadly, Sheffield Wednesday fans should have seen finishing 4th as a bad omen. Even though they rank higher than 2 other teams in the playoffs, finishing the season at fourth has only yielded promotion 17% of the time—the lowest of any playoff position.

Will the glory last in the Premier League?

Whether it is Huddersfield Town or Reading that make it through, how will they actually fare in the Premier League? Sadly, the odds are against them—as well as the already qualified Brighton.

In the past three Premier League seasons, 2/3 of the teams that qualified through a 2nd place in the Championship were relegated in their first season in the Premier League—welcome back to the Championship Middlesbrough.

For the teams that made it through the playoffs, the odds are even worse. All three teams were relegated in their first season back in the Premier League—welcome back to the Championship Hull City.

However, Championship champions Newcastle should feel more confident. All of the three previous champions survived their first year in the Premier League—and have all avoided relegation so far.  

The odds predict against the trend

Even though the historical trend is in their favour, Reading is fighting the odds against Huddersfield Town. Currently, all bookmakers are pointing to a Huddersfield Town victory.

The odds are not as short as Hudderfield Town fans would probably like, and the bookmakers are pointing to a relatively close game.

Either way, with so much on the line for the two sides, the final is sure to be a nail biter.