League 1 permutations: 4-5 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.


The top two aren’t going anywhere for a while thanks to a seven-point cushion between Sheff Utd and Bolton, and with four points separating Bradford from Rochdale it’s only the latter who can be ejected from the top six this weekend.

Coventry will remain the bottom side for at least another week, with Oldham guaranteed to be sitting in the relegation zone with them. However both Shrewsbury and Swindon could be pulled into the bottom four if results go against them.

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.


Scunthorpe‘s superior goal difference means that Sheffield United need a win over Wimbledon in addition to a slip from the Iron in order to overtake them at the top.

With Rochdale at home – albeit to fellow promotion-chasers Bristol Rovers – and Southend hosting the league leaders, they can be relatively confident of holding on to sixth place this weekend.

There’s just under a 50:50 chance that we’ll see a change in membership of the bottom four (adding up either 22+10+13 or 17+3+21+5 gives 45%), with two six-pointers keeping the relegation battle interesting: Bury visit Shrewsbury while Chesterfield host Oldham.