Updated probabilities, 17 Apr 2016
I’ve re-run my E Ratings model after the weekend’s Football League and National League fixtures last night to see what effect they’ve had on where each club is predicted to finish at the end of the season. Obviously a few fates have already been decided, but there are plenty of clubs with something still to play for.
If you’ve not seen these graphics before, they show the cumulative probability of where each club could finish, in descending order of their average final league position across 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season. The simulations are generated using each club’s current E Ratings and those of their remaining opponents.
You can think of the ordering of the teams down the left hand side as a “best guess” of the final league table, with the coloured bars showing the relative likelihood of each club ending up in a certain section of the table. You can also see how these graphics looked before last night by following the link in the previous paragraph.
Middlesbrough and Burnley remain best-placed to secure automatic promotion, with Brighton needing one of them to slip up in order to close the gap. Hull retain a slender chance of breaking into the top two thanks to the strength of their underlying performances (which is what drives the E Ratings).
The race for the top six looks to be all but over, with the final play-off place being Sheffield Wednesday‘s to lose. Cardiff appear to be the only club capable of wresting it from them as things stand, but they’ll need a very favourable run-in to do so.
At the bottom, the relegation battle continues to look a foregone conclusion, with MK Dons seeming incapable of replicating Rotherham’s recent surge.
Doncaster’s surprise win over Wigan hasn’t altered much by itself: the Latics are still strong title favourites thanks to Burton‘s draw with Barnsley while Rovers remain deep in relegation danger. Walsall‘s win over Southend makes them almost as likely to secure second place as the out-of-form Brewers.
Gillingham‘s defeat by Port Vale, coupled with a loss for Millwall and a draw for Bradford, means that the play-off race remains open, with Barnsley still the most likely to displace one of the incumbents.
Doncaster and Blackpool look likeliest to join Colchester and Crewe in League 2 next season – both will need a strong and fortuitous finish to the season to stand any chance of avoiding the drop.
Oxford‘s home defeat to Luton has kept the automatic promotion race interesting, with Accrington and Bristol Rovers having turned it into a three-way tussle for two places.
The final play-off place is the only one without a strong claim on it, although Wimbledon are the favourites to secure it after Wycombe and Exeter were unable to match their result this weekend.
The relegation battle has looked done and dusted for some time, with York now 11 points from safety with only 12 left to play for. They therefore look all but certain to join Dag & Red in the National League next season.
Cheltenham have now mathematically secured the title that has looked theirs for some time, so attention now turns to the race for the play-offs. It looks overwhelmingly likely that Forest Green, Grimsby and Dover will be involved, but there’s a three-way battle for the final place. At the moment it looks likely to be either Eastleigh or Braintree who make the final cut, but with Tranmere still having to play the Spitfires we could witness some late drama.
There’s also still plenty to play for at the bottom, with Altrincham and Halifax still capable of escaping the drop zone. The Shaymen have it all to do: despite having a game in hand, all three of their remaining fixtures are against top half opposition. With Guiseley due to host Boreham Wood in their next game and both they and Altrincham yet to face relegated Welling, this could go down to the final day.
Note: In case you’re wondering why the bars aren’t always in perfect descending order, there’s a discussion about this on the blog’s Facebook page here. In a nutshell, it’s to do with which fixtures each club has left: for example, if a club still has to play against weaker teams who can still overtake them, then this will give them a wider spread of possible finishing positions. On one hand there will be more simulations in which they rack up lots of points from those easier games and climb the table, but the downside is that they fall further in the simulations where they lose to a side that moves above them as a result.