Finishing 11th in the Ladbrokes Premiership isn’t a lot of fun, as first comes the fear of flirting with automatic relegation, and then you face one final two-legged fight to preserve your top-flight seat against a side who settled in second, third or fourth in the Ladbrokes Championship.
However, the rewards for surviving that struggle are rich, as Kilmarnock are about to find out in the aftermath of their 4-1 aggregate play-off triumph against Falkirk last month.
Lee Clark’s men – who are as well represented at Euro 2016 as Ajax and Villarreal thanks to Josh Magennis’ presence in the Northern Ireland squad – are the joint-biggest outsiders in the Ladbrokes Premiership winner betting market at 500/1, but should be confident of outperforming that rating.
The reason is that with the exception of Hibernian, who lost their play-off with Hamilton in 2014 and consequently dropped into the Ladbrokes Championship, every team who has placed 11th from 2006-07 onwards climbed to a higher position in the following season.
That adds up to eight separate examples of clubs not just consolidating, but markedly improving after overcoming the threat of relegation. St Mirren were the most prolific beneficiaries having ranked second-bottom in 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2010-11 and ascending to 10th, 10th and eighth.
Kilmarnock have twice experienced the lift-off in the past, springing to eighth in 2008-09 and even more impressively leaping to fifth in 2010-11 having dodged demotion by two points on the final day 12 months earlier, making this their opportunity to replicate the Buddies’ hat-trick.
Their 2016-17 campaign will begin on August 6 at home to the latest side to enjoy the boost, Motherwell, who – fuelled by their 2014-15 play-off success over Rangers – mirrored Killie’s feat of darting from 11th to fifth last term, and indeed earned a point more in doing so.
Six of the eight squads to profit from the trend ended up in the top eight, with Kilmarnock and the Steelmen the only ones to soar all the way into the top half. The average escalation rate of the last five to move upwards upon taking 11th has been four places.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.