We seem to be moving towards a ‘points per game’ conclusion to the current season, with placing worked out on the average number of points achieved by each team, per game, thus far.
One model, one which seems preferred, is to work out the average points at home and away to get the current total. We ran an article looking at a possible table here, seeing how it would affect the current standings. It doesn’t affect us greatly, but I did wonder how much it might have affected last season?
No model is perfect, no decision will suit everyone, but I wonder if prior to making a decision the EFL will run last season’s tables as an indicator of whether points per game is a fair route to go down. If they want to but haven’t yet done the maths, then they can rest easy knowing I’ve done it for them. I will stress that I am in favour of using this model to end the season and have been since late March when I first wrote an article on it. You can’t recreate the exact matches without playing them, so this is the fairest way. However, would things be very different in the current divisions if we’d had the pandemic last year?
League Two 2018/19
We were the champions of League Two last season, followed up automatically by MK Dons and Bury. Newport, Mansfield, Forest Green and Tranmere contested the play-offs, with the latter going through. At the bottom, Notts County and Yeovil were relegated, with Sol Campbell saving Macclesfield in a great escape.
Under a PPG model, assuming action stopped on March 7th and the home and away totals were worked out, then ourselves and Bury would have still been promoted, us as champions. We actually finished the season with 5.72 points fewer than the model would give us, but it would still have been around four ahead of Bury. Mansfield would be the big winners under the model, they’d have cleared MK Dons by three points to also be a League One club.
Newport and Forest Green would have missed out, niether making the top seven. Instead, our final day opponents Colchester would sneak in, along with Exeter City. If (as proposed) the team in fourth also got promoted, then MK Dons would come up, meaning three of the four promotion places would have been correct.
At the bottom, not even a pandemic could have saved Notts County, although they ended up with three more points than PPG believed they would. Macclesfield would have been relegated, but it is interesting to see four of the bottom five finish with more points than the model suggests they should. Yeovil, who clearly had a complete collapse, would have stayed up if the season had been ended on March 7th and finished via PPG.
In League Two, of the six promotion / relegation places on offer, a PPG model would have got four of them correct.
|Milton Keynes Dons||18||39||2.17||17||23||1.35||10.83||8.12||80.95||79||-1.95|
|Forest Green Rovers||18||25||1.39||17||29||1.71||6.94||10.24||71.18||74||2.82|
League One 2018/19
League One has three promotion places and four relegation spots, meaning than there is more scope for a PPG model to be wrong. However, the top two teams, Barnsley and Luton, would have remained top had the season finished on March 7th and been simulated. Both ended up with slightly fewer points than expected, but it was enough to hold off Sunderland. The play-off spots would also have remained the same, but Sunderland would have finished third and potentially been promoted under the PPG model. They amassed almost seven points fewer than a PPG model thought they would, whilst Charlton picked up almost nine more.
The bottom would be very different. Wimbledon would have been relegated, but their great escape defied the odds. They pulled in almost 11 points more than the model suggested they would and finished outside the bottom four. Sadly, Bradford couldn’t have been saved, but Plymouth, Walsall and Scunthorpe would all also have stayed up. Rochdale, who showed some super form towards the end of the season, would have gone down, as would Bristol Rovers. That means the PPG model would have got just three of the seven positions in League One correct.
It is impossible to come up with a suitable measure by which to end the season, but this does show that some clubs might be aggrieved by PPG. I think in League Two, the difference would have been negligible, although Yeovil fans might not agree. Similarly, anyone looking at the bottom of League One might argue against PPG. It would be hard to see Bolton or Southend survive, but what of Bristol Rovers? They would have gone down under a PPG system and yet they finished 15th. Also, Plymouth and Scunthorpe were relegated and they were 14th and 16th respectively on March 7th… either side of where we are right now.