Championship permutations: 12-16 Jan 2017

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.

ch-permutations-2017-01-14 The six point gap between Newcastle and Reading renders the top two a closed shop for now, but the Royals can be overtaken by either of the teams beneath them.

Derby are the only club able to break into the play-off zone this weekend and are also the only team currently outside of it who are even guaranteed to finish the weekend in the top half.

Both of the bottom two – Wigan and Rotherham – are stuck where they are for at least another week, but any of the five clubs above them could join them in the relegation zone.

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.


While Sheffield Wednesday are capable of overtaking Leeds this weekend, they’d need to beat 4th-placed Huddersfield and for Derby to win at Elland Road, with a combined swing of at least six goals (probably seven due to Leeds having scored more goals). This combination happened very rarely in the simulations I ran.

With Burton at home to struggling Wigan and Blackburn away at Ipswich, Rovers’ chances of exiting the relegation zone are relatively slim. However both Nottingham Forest and Cardiff are away to mid-table sides and are therefore realistically catchable.