Can Norwich City beat the odds and stay in the Premier League?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
History and bookmakers may not be on Norwich City's side – but there is plenty of evidence to suggest the Canaries can survive in the Premier League next season.
We've crunched the numbers and worked out that 11 of the last 20 play-off victors – or 55pc – have lasted just one season in the top flight.
But overall, 25 of the 59 promoted clubs in the last 20 seasons have been relegated in their first season – which works out to just 42.4pc.
With most bookies currently offering City and fellow promoted clubs Bournemouth and Watford as favourites to go down next season, those statistics can give Canaries fans plenty of heart.
Swansea, Crystal Palace and West Ham have all finished in mid-table after promotion via the play-offs in recent years. Can City now match those impressive achievements?
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Gaining promotion through the play-offs is said to make preparations for the following season more difficult than when being promoted automatically.
The three-week extension which comes with the end-of-season knockout competition can be considered to give the other two elevated clubs a head-start.
Yet in three of the last four Premier League seasons the team who secured their place in the top flight via Wembley finished above the other promoted duo.
QPR were the last team to be victorious in the play-offs – but finished rock bottom in the Premier League this season.
The three seasons prior however Crystal Palace (11th), West Ham (10th) and Swansea (11th) proved that the three-week extension does not necessarily have to have a detrimental effect.
Can Norwich City now follow the trio's example and return to the comfort of mid-table mediocrity in English football's top tier?
That was where the Canaries were establishing themselves in the two seasons before they slipped to relegation in 2014.
When City were promoted automatically in 2011 under Paul Lambert, it was Swansea who followed them via the play-offs. The Welsh club then followed up 11th place in their first season with ninth in 2013, 12th in 2014 and eighth this season.
With a League Cup triumph thrown in for good measure – the Swans have proved what is possible following play-off success.
Rangers got it all wrong
Although previous play-off winners have proved it is possible to maintain momentum in the Premier League, Queens Park Rangers have also demonstrated the dangers.
Wembley joy in 2014 has been washed away by relegation from the top flight for QPR, as they fell well short of the standard required.
After edging past Derby in the play-off final despite being down to 10 men – with Gary O'Neil, now of Norwich City, getting sent off – Rangers tried to splash the cash to secure survival.
The Canaries benefited from a club-record sale of Leroy Fer to the Rs, worth around £8million but with the potential to rise to £10m in add-ons, and with veteran defender Rio Ferdinand one of several players handed big wages – reported to be around £80,000 a week – QPR's failure has been costly.
With Harry Redknapp sacked mid-season as well, the Londoners have shown City exactly how not to approach a return to the big time.