Dundee United will face St Mirren on Thursday evening in what will be the first of two encounters which could send them back to the Scottish Premiership.
It is not the first time the Tangerines have made it this far in the play-offs. In 2017 the club, then under the management of Ray McKinnon, failed to secure promotion back to Scottish football’s top tier following a 1-0 loss to Hamilton.
However other Championship sides have done the deed in the past, successfully securing promotion to the Premiership through the play-offs.
What does history tell us about Dundee United’s chances of making it back to the Premiership?
If you look at recent Scottish football history, the odds are stacked against Dundee United. Only two clubs have managed to secure promotion from the Championship to the Premiership since the play-off system was introduced in the 2013-14 season.
The sides who achieved the feat were Hamilton in 2014 and Livingston in 2018. Hamilton have maintained their Premiership status, and Livingston have so far continued the trend.
How the play-offs have unfolded over the years:
Dundee were automatically relegated to the Championship.
Hamilton Accies earned promotion to the Premiership from the Championship after beating Hibs 4-3 on penalties following two dramatic play-off encounters.
St Mirren were automatically relegated down.
Rangers failed to secure promotion to the Premiership after being beaten twice by Motherwell in the play-off finals. The Well won 6–1 on aggregate.
Dundee United were automatically relegated from the Premiership.
Kilmarnock maintained their Scottish Premiership status after beating Falkirk 4-1 on aggregate across the two play-off final games.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle were automatically relegated.
Dundee United failed to secure promotion following two dull encounters against Hamilton in the play-off finals. One match ended 0-0, with Hamilton winning the second 1-0.
Ross County were automatically relegated.
Partick Thistle were also demoted to the Championship after being beaten twice by Livingston in the play-off finals. The aggregate score was 3-1 to Livingston.
Dundee have been relegated.
The outcome of the play-off finals remains to be seen.
What do the stats tell us?
Looking back on recent play-off clashes might not be the best way to judge Dundee United’s chances. The Tannadice side’s form is narrowly better than St Mirren’s, having won four of their last five games. St Mirren have won three of their last five encounters and drawn two.
United also beat St Mirren 2-1 in a Scottish Cup clash in February.
What do the bookies say?
Dundee United seem to be the favourites to win the Tannadice leg of the play-off encounter. As of Thursday afternoon Bet 365, Sky Bet, Ladbrokes and William Hill were offering 11/10 odds on a victory for the Arabs.
The odds being offered by the same betting firms for a St Mirren win were as follows: 11/4, 5/2, 13/5 and 27/10.
What do the fans think?
Excitement and optimism is high at Tannadice. If the scramble for tickets to the play-off finals is anything to go by, United fans fancy their chances of securing promotion back to the Scottish Premiership.
Hundreds of fans attempted to grab briefs to Sunday’s game in Paisley on Tuesday morning, with some even queuing up overnight outside the club store on Tannadice Street.
And more than 11,000 tickets have been sold by the home team ahead of Thursday night’s big game.
A quick glance at social media gives a glimpse into the mood.
What an effort Arabs. Let’s put 100% effort into supporting the team. That’s the reason we are here. DUFC 🧡🖤. https://t.co/G3LYHI95BO
— Federation of Dundee United Supporters (@feddusc) May 23, 2019
Cmon boys let’s do this 👊🏻👊🏻 🧡🖤 #Everything
— Mr Silverback™ (@silverbackarabs) May 23, 2019
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) May 23, 2019