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Bottom at Christmas… Computer model predicts who is destined for the drop - and the title – University of Reading

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Bottom at Christmas… Computer model predicts who is destined for the drop - and the title

Release Date 21 December 2018

Reading FC are odds on the avoid relegation according to the forecast

The outcome of the title race and the teams set for the drop have been predicted by a complex computer model created by football economists at the University of Reading.

As the season reaches its halfway point over the festive period, simulations for England’s top four football divisions have revealed three struggling teams currently in the relegation places are set to defy the odds and stay up. Reading FC, currently one place above the relegation zone in 21st, are given a 76.2% chance of staying up.

The model also predicts the Premier League and League 2 titles will not go to the teams currently top of the table, while several teams that have underperformed so far will make late charges into the promotion places in the second half of the season.

See the league table forecasts >>>

Dr James Reade, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Reading, said: “As the saying goes, if you’re bottom at Christmas then you’re doomed, and these predictions sadly back that up. However, they offer plenty of hope for other teams in relegation battles, as the forecasts show many currently languishing near the bottom of the table may pull off miracle escapes.”

Dr Carl Singleton, Lecturer in Economics at the University of Reading, said: “As we head into the packed festive programme of football, these forecasts show that the fight for promotion is far from over. The title race in the Premier League and League 2 look set to go down to the wire, with the teams currently top predicted to have the trophy snatched from their grasp come May.”

The computer model has been calculating the most likely scores in every round of fixtures this season, which have been reported in a weekly blog.

It uses a sophisticated metric that analyses historic results for each team, as well as things like form, league position and even the day of the week the match is played. This gives an estimated number of goals for both sides in any given fixture, allowing the most likely result and score to be given.

Scores were calculated multiple times for every remaining game in the top four English leagues to provide forecast tables with most likely finishing positions for each of the 92 teams.

While not 100% accurate, the computer model has performed competitively against, and often bettered, predictions by BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson and Sky Sports’ Paul Merson.

Keep up with the latest predictions by following the Scorecasting Economists on Facebook or Twitter at @SEconomists

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The predictions produced by the model are only the most likely outcomes (rounded to the nearest decimal place), and show the chance of it occurring as a percentage. Please note that some teams are predicted to finish in the same position - this is because it was the most common finishing position for both teams after multiple simulations of the season.

They are therefore not 100% accurate and intended to provide a rough guide to the most likely results, which can be influenced by several factors, such as team selection, and unpredictable events during a match, or by things like managerial changes during the season. The University of Reading does not promote gambling and does not intend for the predictions to be used as a guide for this purpose.

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