Point spread GIFs: League 1, 5 Feb 2017
It feels like a good time to dust off the animated GIFs I use to track how clubs are faring in the promotion, play-off and relegation battles.
These are explained in full here but put simply they show how each club’s points tally is changing relative to teams in previous seasons. There are three graphics – one for each race – which cycle through all the clubs involved in the order of their current league position.
The top two of Sheffield United and Scunthorpe look to have precedent on their side: both have a points tally which is better than the middle 50% of clubs to have finished 2nd since the current divisional structure was established in 1995/96.
Of the chasing pack, even 3rd-placed Bolton are winning points at a rate slightly below average for a team looking to claim the second automatic promotion spot, so unless we see a surge from beneath then the current duopoly will require a collapse to break.
The play-off race is far more wide open, with Fleetwood and Bradford both looking comfortably good enough to secure a top six finish and Rochdale in a healthy position to challenge Southend for the final place on offer.
Nobody else’s points haul is looking all that convincing at the moment, and both Wimbledon and MK Dons are already below the worst tally of an eventual play-off candidate. Barnsley set a new record last season, finishing sixth despite having 39 points after 28 matches: two points more than Wimbledon have and four more than MK Dons.
Coventry already need a record-breaking recovery to avoid the drop. Since 1995/96 there have been 10 clubs with 21 points or fewer after 29 matches (the Sky Blues’ current situation) and all have gone down: eight finished bottom of the pile, one 23rd and one 22nd.
Bury will be in a similar situation if they don’t get at least a point from their next match, which would also put them into territory that no club has survived from in the last 21 seasons.
While Shrewsbury‘s position is looking healthier by the week, the likes of Swindon and Chesterfield have begun to look increasingly threatened if past seasons are anything to go by.