Supercomputer Predicts Championship Promotion Race

With a third of the season now in the history books, the Championship table is starting to take shape. Leicester City and Ipswich Town are seemingly surging their way to promotion, but will they win a place in the Premier League come May? Renowned statistic experts Opta have run the data through their supercomputer…

There’s plenty to delve into here, with the second tier arguably the tightest it has been in years. Aside from the current top two, any number of clubs still have a realistic shot of making the play-offs, with just 10 points separating sixth-placed Sunderland and last season’s beaten finalists Coventry City in 20th.

With 30 games still left to play, everything is still up for grabs and there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way. Alongside Leicester, fellow relegated clubs Leeds United and Southampton were the pre-season promotion favourites and both currently occupy a play-off spot. However, both teams sit eight and nine points behind the top two and will be hoping that they can start to bridge that gap in the coming weeks.

Who Will Achieve Automatic Promotion?

The supercomputer has drawn its results by running 10,000 season simulations based on the xG value of every shot taken from the opening 16 games.

Based on this, Leicester and Ipswich are unsurprisingly the two favourites, but the Foxes are handed a staggering 94.8% chance of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking. The Tractor Boys continue to defy the odds and despite sitting level on points with the leaders, Opta consider Kieran McKenna’s side far less likely of maintaining their position. In fact, over 40% less.

Leeds started the season slowly but have recently found their rhythm, winning six of their last seven fixtures to move into third. Daniel Farke’s side are expected to be Ipswich’s biggest challengers and are given a 26.3% chance of success. Southampton and Sunderland are next in line, with a slim 8.8% and 4.8% respectively.

Chances of Automatic Promotion

  • Leicester City – 94.8%
  • Ipswich Town – 54.0%
  • Leeds United – 26.3%
  • Southampton – 8.8%
  • Sunderland – 4.8%

How About The Play-Offs?

This is where it gets tricky, with so many clubs in and around the top six. Currently, Sunderland occupy the final play-off spot on goal difference, although they are locked on points with West Bromwich Albion and Hull City, with Cardiff City and Middlesbrough two points further back.

Preston North End are enjoying an excellent season and sit in fifth, but Opta believe heartbreak may be on the cards for the Lancashire club. Their projections hand them a 32.5% chance of a top six finish, which is lower than seven other clubs.

Leicester look virtually guaranteed of at least a spot in the play-offs with a 99.9% chance of a top six finish, whereas Ipswich will be happy to see a 95.2% next to their name. Leeds follow with 86.7%, and the Saints also look likely with a 66.8% chance.

It starts to get a bit more congested after that, although Sunderland are still considered favourites to secure a second successive play-off spot with a 53% chance. West Brom are said to pip their division rivals, which would be a fantastic achievement for Carlos Corberan’s team.

Unfortunately for Middlesbrough, it looks as if their slow start will cost them and they are given a 40.7% chance of earning a shot at the top tier, just under 4% lower that the West Midlands outfit above them.

Chances of a Top Six Finish

  • Leicester City – 99.9%
  • Ipswich Town – 95.2%
  • Leeds United – 86.7%
  • Southampton – 66.8%
  • Sunderland – 53.0%
  • West Bromwich Albion – 44.8%
  • Middlesbrough – 40.7%
  • Preston North End – 32.5%
  • Hull City – 30.4%
  • Cardiff City – 10.1%

Overall, it is predicted that Leicester will storm to the league title, with the simulations giving them an average of 96.4 points. Ipswich edge out Leeds with 86.2 points, with the Whites on 81.5. Southampton comfortably seal fourth spot on 77, whereas the final play-off places go to the final day with Sunderland on 73.9, West Brom on 72.7 and Middlesbrough on 72.1 points.

Preston and Hull also come close, two points further back on 70.8 and 70.2 respectively.

Final Championship Table – Top 12

1st: Leicester City – 96.4 average points
2nd: Ipswich Town – 86.2
3rd: Leeds United – 81.5
4th: Southampton – 77.0
5th: Sunderland – 73.9
6th: West Bromwich Albion – 72.7
7th: Middlesbrough – 72.1
8th: Preston North End – 70.8
9th: Hull City – 70.2
10th: Cardiff City – 64.7
11th: Blackburn Rovers – 64.6
12th: Stoke City – 63.2


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