Which clubs have never featured in the play-offs and seven other play-off-related facts and figures

The lottery that is the Football League play-offs is already in full swing. Find out which clubs have the winning numbers and those whose luck is always out.

The play-offs have been roaring success since being introduced for the 1986/87 season, bringing agony and ecstasy in equal measure.

From Manchester City to Maidstone, most clubs have had a taste of it, with names like Paul Dickov, Dean Windass and Ricardo Vaz Te etched into footballing folklore.

Planet Sport brings you some of the facts and figures as we embark on the 36th season of the lottery known as the play-offs.

Teams with no play-off experience

Of the 92 clubs that played the 2021/22 season, only ten have yet to feature in the play-offs: Arsenal, Barrow, Crawley, Everton, Harrogate, Liverpool, Manchester United, Salford, Sutton and Tottenham. Sutton had an outside chance of securing a place in the League Two play-offs on the final day, eventually losing out to Mansfield by a point.

The top two in the National League - Wrexham and Stockport - have both been involved in the play-offs. In fact, FC Halifax Town and Solihull Moors are the only teams out of the top eight who have not featured in the Football League play-offs.

Bye bye promotion, bye bye Football League

Bury play-off final defeat to Shrewsbury May09

Eleven clubs who competed in the bottom tier play-offs in the nine seasons between 1988/89 and 1996/97 are either in the non-league or have gone out of business altogether.

Maidstone, Bury and Scarborough are no more, while Wrexham, Hereford, Chester, Barnet, Darlington, Torquay and Chesterfield have all dropped out of the league. Scunthorpe will make it 12 after being relegated from League Two this season.

Hat-tricks for Blackpool and Huddersfield

Charlie Adam Blackpool play-off final May10

Blackpool and Huddersfield are the only teams to have won all three divisional play-off finals.

Blackpool have won the fourth tier twice, Division Four in 1992 against Scunthorpe United, Division Three in 2001 against Leyton Orient; League One in 2007 and 2021; and the Championship play-off final in 2010 against Cardiff City.

Huddersfield Town also completed the set when overcoming Reading on penalties in the 2017 Championship final.

They won the third tier finals in 1995 and 2012 and the Division Three play-off final in 2004.

The Terriers finished third in the Championship to secure their tenth play-off appearance, which will put them level with Brentford and Preston for the most appearances.

Play-off pain for Preston

Jermaine Beckford Preston May15

Talking of Preston, they had to endure the longest run of play-off failures when failing to gain promotion in their first nine attempts - six semi-final defeats and three final losses (1994 Third Division, 2001 First Division, and 2005 Championship).

They finally broke the curse by winning the 2015 League One final when defeating Swindon 4-0, courtesy of Jermaine Beckford's hat-trick.

Red, white and black is an unlucky combination

Brian Howard Sheff Utd play-off-final May09

Clubs that traditionally wear red-and-white striped shirts with black shorts appear to be cursed when it comes to the play-offs.

Brentford, Exeter City, Lincoln City, Sheffield United and Sunderland have racked up an incredible 36 appearances between them and only won one final.

That occurred in 2020/21 when Brentford finally tasted success at the tenth time of asking, beating Swansea 2-0.

Sunderland (0 final wins from 7 play-off appearances) did get promoted in 1990 but only after losing to Swindon in the final who were subsequently prevented from going up because of financial irregularities.

Lincoln (0-7), meanwhile, appeared in five successive play-offs in the fourth tier between 2003 and 2007, twice making the final, only to fail to go up every time. The following season, they saved themselves the heartache by finishing 15th.

Sheffield United (0-9) will make their ninth play-off appearance when facing Nottingham Forest in the Championship semi-final. The Blades have reached the final three times in their previous eight play-off appearances but have yet to score in any of them let alone win.

Blades and Sunderland have a chance to break ducks

Sunderland fans at Morecambe Apr22

Sheffield United currently top the list of teams who have made the most play-off appearances without winning a final, with Lincoln next on the list. Sunderland have a chance to break their duck in this season's League One play-offs, which would move Reading - no wins in six appearances - up the table.

Leeds United, Bristol City, Wigan and Hartlepool have all made five end-of-season play-off appearances without winning a final, with Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth and MK Dons having made four without even making it past the semi-final.

Hello play-offs, we're back

Wycombe play-off final Jul20

Forest can at least take some comfort from having been pitted against a Sheffield United side with a worse record than themselves.

The other Championship semi-final sees Huddersfield, the only side of the four to have won promotion to the top flight through the play-offs, taking on Luton.

Wycombe boast the best play-off record of the League One play-off sides, with two final wins from five attempts, the most recent coming in the 2020 League One play-offs.

Swindon's 3-0 win at Walsall on the final day of the regular season secured their ninth participation in the end-of-season lottery.

The Robins have won three finals from their previous eight appearances.

Play-offs a positive experience for Palace

Crystal Palace play-off final May13

Crystal Palace have been promoted to the top flight four times via the play-offs, the most recent coming in 2013. They have also suffered one final and two semi-final defeats.

Hull City, meanwhile, have featured in two Championship play-off campaigns and won them both. The first one, in 2008, saw them promoted to the top flight for the first time on the back of a memorable volley from Hull-born Dean Windass.

Their second final win was also secured by a wonder goal, with Mo Diame proving the match-winner against Sheffield Wednesday in 2016.

On the flip side, Ipswich Town have qualified for the play-offs eight times in the second tier and only made the final once. That was in 2000 when they came from 1-0 down to beat Barnsley 4-2. Outgoing Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray was among their scorers.

READ MORE: Everton beware: Charting how far former Premier League clubs have fallen after relegation

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