League 2 permutations: 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.


Both Doncaster and Plymouth are fixed in position this week thanks to four-point cushions, but Carlisle only have a two-point lead over Portsmouth so are able to be overtaken.

The play-off race looks wide open beneath Pompey, with none of the other three current occupants guaranteed to remain in the top seven.

Newport are five points adrift and therefore immobile at the bottom, but any of the four teams immediately above them could start next week alongside 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.


With Portsmouth away at Crawley, their chances of overtaking Carlisle are only slightly better than one in three (38%). Beneath them it looks likely that Wycombe should remain in the top seven despite facing promotion rivals Luton at home.

While Notts County can move out of the bottom two, their poor goal difference means that they’d probably need a win at Grimsby to do so. Coupled with the fact that the four clubs immediately above them are all playing at home this weekend, their chances are a relatively slim 17% (1+6+10).