League 1 permutations: 25 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.


Sheffield United are safe at the top for now with a five-point advantage and the same margin keeps Fleetwood from slipping further down than their current fourth place for now. Beneath them, Millwall can break into the top six this weekend at the expense of either Southend or Bradford.

Three of the bottom four are guaranteed to remain in the relegation zone this weekend, but Port Vale can move above any of the three clubs above 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.


With Fleetwood at home to Northampton while Bolton visit leaders Sheffield United, the Cod Army are likelier than not to move up the table this weekend.

Millwall need to better Bradford‘s result to overtake them on Saturday which, with both teams facing winnable away matches, is therefore not all that likely.

Similarly Port Vale shouldn’t be surprised if they’re still in the bottom four on Sunday given that it’s they who will be entertaining the highly-rated Bantams.