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 is Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. He has a degree in Physics from the University of Leeds and a PhD from Aston University on the mechanics of golf balls on golf greens. He has over 200 publications, including his first book "Advantage Play: Technologies that changed Sporting History" due out in October 2018.

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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