League 2 permutations: 6 May 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 three have taken the title race down to the final day, but it’s the play-off zone where things continue to be insanely interesting. Mansfield sit in 12th but remain just three points off sixth-placed Carlisle, so there are six teams fighting for the lower two play-off places. At the bottom it’s between Newport and Hartlepool to stay in the division – the other will be joining Leyton Orient in the National League next season.

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.

 

Doncaster are narrowly fancied to reclaim top spot on the final day as they face lowly Hartlepool. With Newport at home this doesn’t bode well for Hartlepool’s chances of staying in the division, which are assessed at just 10%.

The model fancies Blackpool and Stevenage to complete the top seven, with both of them at home while Carlisle face a tough, long trip to Exeter.