Premier League Relegation: the Wheel of Fortune

Well, it’s all over.  And what an amazing day it was. It was exhausting trying to work out who was staying up and what the scenarios were.  Here is what happened drawn as a polar time plot of the 5 teams that were in danger of relegation.

Figure 1. 1st Half of Survival Sunday: polar chart of the league table . Teams are identified by their colours with 19th place at the inside and 15th place at the outside. The numbers on the outside indicate minutes and the dotted line shows the relegation zone. (Tip - follow individual teams around the circle to see how they fared during the half.)

Figure 2. 2nd Half of Survival Sunday: polar chart of the league table. Teams are identified by their colours with 19th place at the inside and 15th place at the outside. The numbers on the outside indicate minutes and the dotted line shows the relegation zone. (Tip - follow individual teams around the circle to see how they faired during the half.)

In our previous blogs we worked out that there were 81 different scenarios that could’ve taken place during the battle for the last two relegation places from the Premier League. Figure 3 uses a Monte Carlo simulation with probabilities based upon home and away scores for each team.  It shows the % of scenarios leading to relegation for each team as the matches progressed. The first thing to notice from all the data is that Blackburn was never really in danger, always appearing at the top of the 5 teams in Figs 1 and 2 and having the lowest relegation chance in Fig 3.

Figure 3. The % of scenarios leading to relegation for each team during the 90 minutes of Survival Sunday.

Surprisingly, the likelihood of Wolves being relegated never really went above 20% * so it was always going to be a question of the other 3 teams.  Blackpool’s chances of survival really ended around 80 minutes when they let in a 4th goal and both Wigan and Birmingham scored – up until that moment they still had a better chance of staying up than both these teams.

Time to sleep now, until next season.

* This was also an artifact of the simulation since at any time all scenarios were still possible and some become less and less likely towards the end of the game.

Thanks to Lee Hickey of Games Faction for the fantastic programming and Ben Heller for the Monte Carlo spreadsheets and beer.

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About stevehaake

Steve did a first degree in Physics at the University of Leeds before landing two job offers: the first with BT turned out to be in a porta-cabin in the middle of a marsh, while the second was supposed to be image processing but was really smart-bomb design. This left a third option – a PhD in the mechanics of golf ball impacts on golf greens for a person who’d never hit a golf ball. It was a simple choice (the PhD if you didn’t guess) which led 25 years later to being head of a research team of 30-40 looking into similarly unlikely topics. Highlights of the career so far? The early years setting up the ISEA with the likes of Steve Mather, Ron Thompson, Clive Grant and Ron Morgan; the fact that the 1st International Conference on Sports Engineering in Sheffield in 1996 didn’t also turn out to be the last; and getting out the first issue of the first journal on Sports Engineering in 1998. The absolute high point, though, was being in the British Club in Singapore as a guest of the High Commission when the bid for the 2012 Olympics was announced. This has led to the team delivering projects with Olympic athletes that every scientist with a love of sport can only dream of. Steve is now a Senior Media Fellow funded by the EPSRC to encourage the public to engage in science, particularly in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

1 Response

  1. kurt haake

    I was absolutely gutted about Blackpool being relegated. Such a shame, and well done to Blackburn 🙂

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