Championship: Newcastle and Brighton to win promotion? Blackburn survive?

By Illya GlushchenkovBBC Sport
Final Championship table 2016-17
Newcastle and Brighton to canter to promotion? That is what super-computer SAM is predicting

Promotion to the Premier League for Newcastle United and Brighton, play-off nerves for Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and Reading, and relegation for Burton, Wigan and Rotherham.

These are the conclusions of SAM (Sports Analytics Machine), the super-computer built by Ian McHale, professor of sports analytics at the University of Salford, together with his colleague Dr Tarak Kharrat.

SAM was tasked with predicting the result of every Championship match between now and the end of the season on 7 May. The results indicate that Championship leaders Newcastle and second-placed Brighton will build their lead and cruise to promotion with 98 and 94 points respectively.

The programme suggests that the two clubs are near certainties to win automatic promotion, with Newcastle having a 99% and Brighton a 96.5% chance of going straight up.

SAM also calculates that the Magpies, relegated last season, have a 67% probability of winning their fourth second-tier title, while the Seagulls' chances of topping the table to reach the top flight for the first time since 1983 are 32%.

A total of seven teams are viewed as the most likely challengers for the play-off spots: Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Reading, Huddersfield Town, Norwich City and Fulham.

However, SAM rates the Whites and the Owls as having the best chance of claiming a place in the play-offs, with a probability of 72% each.

Will your team finish in the play-offs?
% probability calculated by SAM
Leeds United72%
Sheffield Wednesday72%
Derby County56%
Huddersfield Town41%
Norwich City31%

And Aston Villa, who finished bottom of the Premier League last season, are given only a 6% chance of reaching the play-offs.

But is SAM right? Do you think you can do better? Pick how you think the top 20 will finish and share your final table with your friends.

Pick your final Championship table

There are 20 full rounds of games left in the Championship but how will the table look when the season finishes? Will Newcastle remain on top? Will Rotherham still be stuck at the bottom? Pick how you think it will look at the end, placing all 24 teams in order. Have a go then share with your friends.

SAM's final table in full

SAM predicts that the positions of the top three will remain unchanged between now and the end of the season, but that Derby will edge out Huddersfield to finish in the play-offs.

There is plenty of minor movement in mid-table, with only Barnsley and Wolves predicted to finish in their current respective positions of 10th and 16th.

At the bottom of the table, Blackburn's chances of surviving are estimated to be higher than those of their key rivals, with Owen Coyle's side given a 28% probability of going down.

The likelihood of bottom side Rotherham being relegated is rated at 99%, while Wigan (78%) and Burton (54%) are predicted to join the Millers in League One next season.

Pos TeamPPts
1 Newcastle United4698
2Brighton & Hove Albion4694
3Leeds United4676
4Sheffield Wednesday4676
5Derby County4673
7Huddersfield Town4671
8Norwich City4670
11Preston North End4667
12Aston Villa4664
14Birmingham City4661
15Ipswich Town4659
17Cardiff City4656
19Nottm Forest4653
20Bristol City4651
21Blackburn Rovers4649
22Burton Albion4646
23Wigan Athletic4643
24Rotherham United4633

SAM takes into account a wide range of factors to work out match results, looking at average performances so far and calculating what that means for the remaining fixtures. It is based on players remaining fit and continuing with their average performance levels, so an injury to Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle or Brighton forward Glenn Murray, for example, would have a significant impact on these predicted outcomes.

You can follow Professor Ian McHale on Twitterexternal-link


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