League 2 permutations: 29 Oct 2016

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after this weekend’s fixtures. I’ve drawn lines under the automatic promotion and play-off spots, mid-table and the last spot above the relegation zone on both “axes” for ease of reference.

These graphics are explained here, but in a nutshell I crunch through every possible combination of results to work out how far it’s mathematically possible for each club to rise and fall.


It’s relatively quiet at the top: Plymouth‘s four-point lead keeps them at the summit for now, and Luton are the only side capable of breaking into the top three.

However the rest of the table remains wide open, with most clubs having a ridiculously wide range of possible movement. Yeovil are in the bottom half but could finish the weekend in the play-offs, while Blackpool and Colchester could find themselves on the edge of either the play-off zone or relegation places.

Newport can’t move off the bottom this weekend thanks to a five-point disadvantage, but seven different clubs could potentially replace Exeter alongside them in the relegation zone if the Grecians are able to win at Morecambe.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’m trialling a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (which I used to simulate the weekend’s games thousands of times) to assign some probabilities to all these potential changes.

It’s structured very similarly to the one above: the clubs are still listed in the same order as the current league table down the side and the dividing lines are all in the same place, but now across each row is the percentage chance of them moving to other positions in the table. As above, green indicates a rise, red a drop and grey staying put. The darker the red or green, the higher the probability. If there’s no number in a square, it means that the club didn’t fill that position in any of the thousands of simulations I ran and is therefore very unlikely.


So there’s only a 9% chance of Luton breaking into the top three, which seems fair enough given they’d need to win away at Notts County and for Doncaster to lose at home to Wycombe.

While it’s mathematically possible for the Hatters to drop as low as 10th, it looks very unlikely that they’d even fall out of the play-offs with a defeat thanks to their superior goal difference over most of the chasing pack.

The table is so close at the moment that many clubs in the bottom half are unlikely to make small upward moves (e.g. Blackpool and Colchester). The scenarios in which they win propel them significantly upwards while a draw is more likely to see them lose ground to whichever teams around them record a victory.

At the bottom Exeter have a roughly 50:50 chance of moving out of the bottom two. They look to have a strong chance of beating Morecambe while most of the clubs immediately above them have tough games this weekend.