League 2 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.


Plymouth‘s seven-point lead at the top means that they’ll be sitting there for some time yet, but the clubs immediately beneath them remain locked in a tussle for supremacy. Carlisle and Doncaster are just a point apart while only goal difference currently separates Portsmouth from Luton.

The table remains ridiculously open outside of the top five, with even 18th-placed Mansfield mathematically capable of sitting in a play-off spot on Saturday evening.

There are eight clubs whose range of motion is 17 positions, from Accrington in 11th down to the aforementioned Stags, and only eight points now separates 6th-placed Crewe from 24th-placed Newport.

The Exiles themselves could finally move out of the bottom two this weekend, having sat there since late September, if they can beat stuttering Notts County away and at least one of Cheltenham and Colchester does them a favour.

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.


Carlisle‘s chances of holding onto second place are just shy of two in three, as they just need to match Doncaster’s result and both are at home this weekend.

The probability of someone overtaking Crewe in 6th are similar, with Grimsby and Notts County the most likely to do so out of the extensive chasing pack.

There were 10 simulations out of the 10,000 in which Mansfield ended up moving all the way from 18th to a play-off place this weekend, so while unlikely it definitely isn’t impossible.

The model gives Newport a relatively slender likelihood of escaping the relegation places this weekend (3+13=16%, or around one in six).