League 1 permutations: 12-13 Nov 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 mathematically possible for Bolton to overtake Scunthorpe at the top of the table but very, very unlikely due to the Iron’s far superior goal difference. Bradford or Sheffield United overtaking the Trotters looks far more achievable given their similar goal differences.

Anyone down as far as Millwall in 13th can break into the top six this weekend with the right combination of results, with just three points separating them from sixth-placed Northampton.

At the bottom both Chesterfield and Shrewsbury are set to remain in the relegation zone for now, but any two of the six clubs immediately above them can join them in the bottom four.

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.


None of the simulations I ran saw Bolton overhaul Scunthorpe at the top, which would require a 12-goal swing (11 to cancel out the Iron’s advantage and another to prevent their superior number of goals scored from keeping them at the summit).

The Trotters look likelier than not to hang onto second though, with a 57% chance of fending off Bradford and Sheffield United. The Bantams’ extra point makes them almost three times as likely as the Blades to profit from a Trotters slip (32% to 11%).

The bottom four looks relatively stable, with MK Dons only having a 1 in 3 chance of dropping into it (25% chance of 21st + 8% chance of 22nd) and Gillingham a 1 in 4 chance (20% + 5%).