Championship permutations: 26-27 Dec 2016

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after the forthcoming round of 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.


The top two are well-insulated against any incursion for the time being, but plenty can change beneath them. Reading are the only side in the play-offs who can’t be dislodged during this round of fixtures, with both Derby and Birmingham able to break into the top six.

The situation is mirrored at the bottom, with the two lowest-placed clubs unable to leave the relegation zone for now, but four clubs scrapping not to join them in the bottom three.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’ve come up with a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (used to simulate the forthcoming round of 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.

ch-probabilities-2016-12-26Brighton have a very winnable home game at QPR on Tuesday but Newcastle are also at home and therefore the Seagulls’ chances of overtaking them remain modest. The Magpies’ opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, are consequently likelier to drop out of the play-off zone than remain in it, with Derby the likeliest beneficiaries.

At the bottom, Blackburn’s chances of moving out of the drop zone are only around 30% (5+13+12) as they have to win at Barnsley and hope that at least one of Burton, Cardiff and QPR lose (although it’d be surprising if none of them did, given that all play higher-placed opponents away).