League 2 permutations: 12 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.


Neither Plymouth nor Carlisle can move this weekend – both are four points clear of their nearest challenger – while the same gap keeps Newport in place at the bottom.

Most other teams have a wide range of motion, with Mansfield and Barnet able to rise as high as 6th or fall as low as 21st.

In addition to 14 different clubs – from the Bees upwards – being capable of starting next week in the play-off zone, eight sides from Cheltenham downwards can begin it alongside the Exiles in the bottom two.

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.


Doncaster have a three point lead over both Luton and Portsmouth but are away this weekend while the other two play at home. Therefore they have only a 72% chance of hanging onto third, with defeat at Exeter likely to result in them being overtaken.

Leyton Orient‘s chances of escaping the bottom two are roughly 50:50, with a draw at Colchester probably sufficient. The four clubs immediately above them all have just one point more and three of them already have an inferior goal difference, so just one of them losing would allow Orient to move out of the danger zone if they avoid defeat.