Championship permutations: 20-21 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-2017-01-21Both the top two and the top six are closed shops this weekend, with six points separating Brighton and Leeds and five points between Sheffield Wednesday and Derby.

There’s plenty of movement possible on either side of the latter divide however, with four different clubs capable of starting next week in sixth and five able to do so in seventh.

Rotherham are still six points away from leaving the foot of the table but the scenery above them could well change, with three of the sides outside the relegation zone able to slip into it this weekend.

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.


With Newcastle hosting bottom side Rotherham, the model doesn’t give Brighton – who have to host fellow promotion challengers Sheffield Wednesday tonight – much chance of snatching top spot this weekend.

Another big game is Derby v Reading, which the model estimates is unlikely to end well for the Royals and gives Huddersfield – at home to inconsistent Ipswich – a good chance of overtaking them.

With Wigan and Blackburn both at home and Burton away, the Brewers are the likeliest side by far to replace one of the other two in the bottom three if results go against them, but are still more likely than not to remain outside it.