Championship permutations: 31 Jan – 2 Feb 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.


Norwich and Wigan aren’t in action during this round of fixtures – their game is played in a few weeks time and as a result neither can rise for now.

Newcastle‘s six-point lead over Reading means that the top two remains a closed shop, while Huddersfield‘s four-point advantage over Sheffield Wednesday means that the Owls are the only top six club who can drop out of the play-off zone this week.

At the bottom Blackburn can move out of the relegation zone at either Burton or Bristol City‘s expense but Rotherham aren’t going anywhere for a while due to being nine points adrift.

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.


For Newcastle to regain top spot they need to beat QPR and hope that Brighton don’t win at Huddersfield, which works out as just under 40% chance of doing so.

With Norwich not in action they’re very likely to drop a place or two, with Derby only needing a point at Ipswich to overtake them.

While it’s mathematically possible for Birmingham to overtake Fulham, the huge swing in goal difference required means that it didn’t happen in any of the model simulations.

Even a draw would be enough to move Blackburn above Wigan, although the chances of Rovers moving out of the bottom three are around one in five (4+15=19%). They’d need to beat high-flying Leeds and hope that one of Burton or Bristol City loses at home.