League 2 permutations: 4 Mar 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.


b are safe at the top for now with a six-point cushion, with Carlisle four points adrift of second-placed Plymouth and catchable themselves by Portsmouth.

Both Mansfield and Colchester can break into the play-offs this weekend, with Portsmouth the highest-placed side guaranteed to remain in the top seven.

The relegation zone is a closed shop this weekend with Leyton Orient six points adrift of Hartlepool and Newport able to move off the bottom if they win their game against Orient.

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.


Portsmouth‘s chances of finally displacing Carlisle in third place are just shy of 50:50 – they need a win at home to Crewe and for the Cumbrians to fail to win at Plymouth.

With Stevenage at home to Notts County while Mansfield and Colchester are on the road, Boro look likelier than not to remain in the top seven for now.