Championship permutations: 29-31 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 remains a closed shop thanks to Newcastle’s six point advantage over Reading.

The Royals themselves are the only club in the play-off zone guaranteed to remain there after this round of fixtures, with Derby able to displace any of the other three.

At the bottom Rotherham remain five points adrift – although this is a far healthier situation than a few weeks ago – and Wigan can’t escape the relegation zone for now. However Blackburn could sidle out of the bottom three at either QPR’s or Burton’s expense.

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-2016-12-29Newcastle need to win and hope that Cardiff can at least hold Brighton at the Amex to regain top spot: these two events only have a combined probability of around one in five.

With Derby hosting struggling Wigan while the two clubs immediately above them are both playing away, the Rams have a good chance of breaking into the play-off zone.

Blackburn’s chances of breaking out of the relegation zone are slim: they need to win at high-flying Huddersfield and (realistically) for at least one of Burton and QPR to lose.