League 1 permutations: 19 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.


Scunthorpe‘s five-point lead guarantees them an extended stay at the League 1 summit this weekend, but with just a point between the chasing trio of Bradford, Sheffield United and Bolton there’s plenty going on at the top.

Another five-point gap keeps Peterborough from rising any higher for now, with the clubs beneath them a far more immediate concern. Both the Posh and Bristol Rovers could find themselves sitting as low as 12th while Southend – the current occupants of that position – are capable of replacing Rovers in sixth.

At the bottom Chesterfield can re-exchange places with Shrewsbury if things go their way, but both are set to remain in the drop zone on Monday regardless. However the other two relegation places are far more fluid, with anyone up to 15th-placed Charlton able to get sucked in.

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.


At the top we’ve already seen that Scunthorpe are assured to remain in first place, and it looks like Bradford have a slightly better than 50:50 chance of clinging on to second.

At the bottom Chesterfield‘s chances of moving off the bottom are worse than one in four as they need to get a win away at Fleetwood to stand a chance of overtaking the Shrews.

MK Dons have the best chance of escaping the bottom four this weekend but are still likelier to fail than succeed (56+14+0=70%) as they likewise need to beat high-flying Bristol Rovers on the road and hope for favourable results elsewhere.