League 1 permutations: 30 Apr 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 final round of games sees the title secured but both the second automatic promotion place and final play-off spot up for grabs. Bolton and Fleetwood are fighting for the former while both Southend and Rochdale could relieve Millwall of the latter.

At the bottom Port Vale gave themselves a chance of survival with their midweek win over Walsall and could send any of the three teams immediately above them down in their place with another victory.

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.

Second place is Bolton’s to lose: they have a two-point advantage and a far healthier goal difference, plus they’re at home to a Peterborough side lodged firmly in 11th. Fleetwood realistically need the Trotters to lose and to defeat a Port Vale side scrapping for survival.

Vale’s tough trip means that their chances of avoiding the drop are pretty slim too. They’re only a point behind Gillingham and could also catch two other teams, but goal difference means that a draw is unlikely to be enough.