JUST a quarter of beaten play-off finalists have come back to earn promotion the following season, research from The Bolton News has discovered.

Of the 111 beaten play-off finalists in the Championship, League One and League Two – or their historical equivalent – only 28 clubs have managed to recover at the first time of asking.

As Wanderers consider their next move after defeat to Oxford United at Wembley, there has been much debate over how significantly that disappointment could impact a squad that had spent virtually a whole season fighting for a top two spot.

Though Bolton have improved their league standing in each of Ian Evatt’s four seasons in charge, missing out on the prize of Championship football is bound to come as a psychological cost, as well as a material one.

Evatt has conceded somewhat ambiguously that changes are necessary to take the club to the next level, although it remains to be seen in what form they will take.

Some fans have called for the board to replace the manager but, historically, more clubs have achieved success by maintaining the status quo. Of the 28 clubs to get promotion the following year after defeat in a play-off final, just seven have done so with a different man in charge.

In the Championship, Steve Coppell replaced Dave Bassett at Crystal Palace to get promotion via the play-offs in 1996/97 and Dean Smith did the trick for Aston Villa after Steve Bruce’s near-miss in 2017/18.

Peter Taylor was the first example in League One, stepping into Tony Pulis’s shoes at Gillingham to take them up in 1999/2000. After that, Simon Grayson at Huddersfield Town (2011/12) and Mark Warburton (2013/14) at Brentford did the same with Lee Clark and Uwe Rosler, respectively.

In League Two, former Wanderer Mike Walsh missed out with Bury in 1994/95, to be replaced by Stan Ternent, who took the Shakers up in third place the following year.

Dutchman Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink also led Burton Albion to the title in 2014/15 after they had just missed out under Gary Rowett’s tutelage.

Dave Challinor’s Stockport County were the last of 17 clubs to go up automatically having lost the previous season’s play-off final, something Wanderers would desperately like to emulate next time around.

Alan Pardew has actually achieved the same feat with two different clubs – Reading in 2001/02 and West Ham United in 2004/05.

But while there are success stories, there are plenty more hangovers, some of which prove severe.

Six clubs have actually been relegated following a play-off final defeat, though in some cases financial issues and points deductions have come into play to accelerate their decline.

Leeds United in 2005/06 are unquestionably the highest-profile case. Kevin Blackwell’s side had been challenging for a top two position for most of the season but a run of one victory in 10 games during the run-in saw them drop to fifth place in the table.

After beating Preston North End 3-1 over two legs in the play-off, Leeds capitulated in the final against Watford. That cloud followed them into the following season and by September Blackwell had been replaced by Dennis Wise.

Financial issues had followed the Elland Road side after their relegation from the Premier League and forced the sale of more key players. Ultimately, with the club’s fate all-but guaranteed, they entered administration on May 4, 2007, and were deducted 10 points by the Football League, guaranteeing relegation.

The same fate befell three teams in three successive seasons in League One between 1995 and 1998, with Notts County, Brentford and Northampton Town all relegated after a Wembley final.

Leyton Orient remain the last example, losing the 2013/14 play-off final to Rotherham United on penalties and relegated after failing to beat Swindon on the final day of the season in May 2015.

Across all three divisions, the average finishing position for a club who had lost the play-off final in the previous season is 9.74, or effectively 10th. In League One alone, that is marginally lower position at 10.32.

The last time Wanderers lost a play-off final at League One level was in 1991, when Phil Neal’s side was edged out by Tranmere Rovers. The following year they finished 13th in the table and the long-serving manager lost his job in the summer of 1992, paving the way for Bruce Rioch’s arrival.

Just 49 (44 per cent) of clubs manage to finish in the top 10 of their respective division the year after a play-off final loss; another statistic which shows the impact that such a result can have on fortunes.