As we near the end of the 2023-24 season, we give an update on the Opta supercomputer’s Championship predictions for automatic promotion and relegation.

23 April

Leeds United moved to within a point of leaders Leicester City with an entertaining 4-3 win at Middlesbrough on Monday night. They now occupy the second automatic promotion spot ahead of Ipswich Town, who had to make do with a weekend off as opponents Coventry City were busy scaring Manchester United in their FA Cup semi-final.

Leicester enjoyed a crucial 2-1 home win over West Brom on Saturday, ensuring that they kept their lead at the top of the Championship table. They have their game in hand over Leeds tonight in a tricky-looking game versus fourth-placed Southampton at the King Power Stadium.

So, what do Leicester and Leeds’ wins on Saturday and Monday mean for the Opta supercomputer projections?

Who Will Win Automatic Promotion from the Championship?

Leicester are still the big favourites for the Championship title (72.7%) and a top-two finish (91.9%). Their 2-1 victory against WBA this weekend followed back-to-back defeats against struggling Millwall and Plymouth, but luckily for Enzo Maresca and his side, Leeds (one point) and Ipswich (two points) failed to capitalise over those two matchdays.

Leeds’ win at Middlesbrough ended a mini slump of their own, where they’d collected just a point from games against Coventry, Sunderland and Blackburn.

Ipswich have lost their scoring touch across the last three games, with just one point and one goal in meetings with rivals Norwich, Watford and Middlesbrough. They face two tricky tests against top-eight sides Hull and Coventry to end the month, before a final game at home to lowly Huddersfield.

Leeds are currently tipped to join Leicester in the automatic promotion spots (59.9%) ahead of Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich (47.0%), but at this stage of the season, single unexpected results can have such a huge impact on the projections.

Who Will be Promoted from the Championship Chances

Who Will Make the Championship Play-Offs?

The Opta supercomputer is confident about its projection of three near-enough certainties to be in the Championship play-offs now.

Southampton have a 1.1% chance of winning automatic promotion, so it’s not completely over (even if they beat Leicester on Tuesday night), but with a 98.9% chance of being inside the play-off spots they will be looking ahead to extending their league campaign to at least two more matches.

West Brom and Norwich City currently occupy fifth and sixth place respectively, and despite Hull and Coventry having games in hand on them, the supercomputer deems it unlikely they’ll make a late charge.

West Brom (96.7%) and Norwich (93.4%) can be confident of filling those final two play-off spots, with Coventry’s chances rated at 7.7% and Hull way down on 2.1%.

Should the league follow the supercomputer’s current projections, we could see two mouth-watering play-off East Anglia derbies to fight it out for a place in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Ipswich’s chance of finishing in the play-off spots stands at 53.0%, ahead of Leeds’ 40.1% and Leicester’s 8.1% chance.

Who Will be Relegated from the Championship?

Rotherham’s relegation has already been confirmed following their disastrous campaign, but the final two spots in the bottom three remain undecided with two matchdays left to play.

Watford and Millwall are now both definitely safe from the drop, with Millwall’s excellent wins over Leicester, Cardiff and Sunderland over the last three matchdays pulling them out of trouble.

This means that any two of seven teams could still face the drop to League One.

Sheffield Wednesday’s impressive win at Blackburn Rovers on Sunday pulled them out of the relegation zone and a point ahead of Birmingham City. They also hold a three-point advantage over 23rd-placed Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield’s match against Birmingham this weekend is absolutely huge. If the Yorkshire side win, they could climb out of the relegation zone ahead of the final day on goal difference (if Sheffield Wednesday lose at home to West Brom). Considering their final game of the season is away at promotion-hunting Ipswich, this weekend feels like the last chance saloon for the Terriers.

If Birmingham win, they could not only give themselves a great chance of avoiding the drop, but potentially relegate Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon.

Who Will be Relegated from the Championship Chances

15 April

The Premier League is the promised land… so why doesn’t anyone seemingly want to get promoted?

The top three, once again, all failed to win. Leicester City suffered their third consecutive away defeat after going down 1-0 at Plymouth Argyle on Friday night, before Leeds United were beaten by the same score at home to Blackburn Rovers in the early Saturday kick-off.

That gave Ipswich Town the chance to put some distance between themselves and the other two at the top, but they could only muster a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at Portman Road to lead the Championship from Leicester by a single point.

According to the Opta supercomputer, Leicester’s chances of promotion have taken a slight hit, but they remain favourites, with an 85.7% likelihood of going up. Not bad for a team that have lost three of their last five games. Their game in hand over Leeds and Ipswich is likely helping them retain their favourites tag, for now.

Leeds have taken a greater hit given their loss came on home soil. Daniel Farke’s men have dropped from a 59.3% chance of going up to 42.7%. Ipswich take most of those percentage points themselves as the Tractor Boys rise up from 50.8% to 64.2% for a top-two finish.

Don’t sleep on Southampton, though. Russell Martin’s Saints claimed a dramatic three points against Watford on Saturday with Flynn Downes’ 99th-minute winner earning a 3-2 victory at St Mary’s. They still sit six points behind third-place Leeds and seven off Leicester, but they also have a game in hand on the Foxes and two on Leeds and Ipswich. The first of those is a home clash with Preston on Tuesday. Their current chances of promotion sit at 7.7%, but that could shoot up with another win this week. That second game in hand is at Leicester on 23 April, which has the potential to be a hugely significant contest for both teams.

Championship promotion chances 15 April

The play-off places look pretty much sewn up, with two of the top four guaranteed a spot, while West Brom (96.7%) and Norwich City (94.4%) look comfortable in fifth and sixth place respectively, despite the Baggies losing at home to Sunderland on Saturday. Hull City (2.9%) could still make them nervous, though. Their 3-0 win over QPR took them up to seventh, sitting six points off the play-offs but with a game in hand on the two teams above them. Coventry City were beaten 3-0 at Birmingham City, which has seen their play-off probability fall to 5.3%.

Speaking of Birmingham, that win helped them clamber out of the relegation zone and reduced their probability of going down to 37.2%. That’s largely at the expense of Huddersfield Town, who conceded a very late equaliser at Bristol City and now go down in 57.1% of simulations. Sheffield Wednesday also avoided defeat as they drew 1-1 at home to Stoke City, but their relegation chances remain up there at 78.1%.

There are still 10 teams who could mathematically join Rotherham in going down, though after Birmingham, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday, the only other teams with more than a 2% chance are QPR (14.7%) and Stoke (10.1%).

Championship Opta predictor 15 April

12 April

What a tense set of midweek fixtures we saw in the Championship this week. On Tuesday, Leeds United drew 0-0 at home to Sunderland while Leicester City were beaten 1-0 at Millwall.

That gave Ipswich Town a perfect opportunity to take the lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League, but Kieran McKenna’s men were then held to a goalless draw at home by Watford.

All three failing to win means the Opta supercomputer’s simulations haven’t changed all that much heading into the weekend. Leicester remain strong favourites to go up, doing so 87.9% of the time, while claiming the title in 65.0% of sims.

Leeds gained a point on the Foxes but also saw their promotion hopes dip very slightly to 59.3%, with a 20.1% chance of a first-place finish, while Ipswich gained some ground despite also only drawing, now up at a 50.8% chance of going up (14.6% for the title).

Championship promotion predictor 12 April

As for the play-offs, Southampton (98.0%) need just one more point to confirm a place in the top six after a 2-1 victory over FA Cup semi-finalists Coventry City. Russell Martin’s side still have a 2.0% chance of sneaking into the top two, but the playoffs are much likelier. West Brom’s 2-0 win over already-relegated Rotherham also put their chances of a play-off place at 97.8%.

Norwich City (68.8%) could have increased their chances of taking the final spot if they hadn’t thrown away a 2-0 lead at Sheffield Wednesday to draw, but Coventry (25.5%), Preston (3.8%), Hull City (3.2%) and Middlesbrough (0.8%) remain a fair way back.

The fight to avoid relegation is keeping several teams honest. Sheffield Wednesday’s comeback draw against Norwich felt like a big point as it took them above Birmingham City, albeit still in the bottom three, but the Owls only saw their relegation chances lower slightly to 52.3% due to results elsewhere. Meanwhile, Birmingham’s went up to 62.0% after their home defeat to Cardiff City.

Huddersfield Town are still very much in the fight, with their chances at 45.5% after being thrashed 4-1 at Preston, while Plymouth Argyle’s are at 15.0% following their 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers, whose own likelihood stands at 3.7%.

Stoke City (9.7%) and Blackburn Rovers (10.5%) aren’t out of the woods yet after heavy away losses to Swansea City and Bristol City respectively, but Millwall (1.4%) gave their survival chances a huge boost after their shock win over Leicester.

Championship Opta predictor 12 April

8 April

Having seen Ipswich Town lose the East Anglia derby against Norwich in the early Saturday kick-off, both Leeds United and Leicester City knew that they could capitalise on Ipswich’s failings to move ahead in the Championship promotion race. Only one of those teams could do so, however.

It was a perfect weekend for Leicester, as not only did they celebrate a late winner against Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon, but they saw Leeds lose 2-1 at Coventry City.

With the scores locked at 1-1 at the King Power Stadium, forward Stephy Mavididi struck the winning goal with three minutes of normal time remaining to send the Foxes back to the top of the Championship table.

Who will be promoted from the Championship

That win has seen Leicester’s chance of automatic promotion rise by just over 15 percentage points to 90.5% from before the weekend, while Leeds’ defeat at Coventry has seen their projected chance of a top-two finish fall from 68.9% to 60.9%.

However, Ipswich’s defeat has softened the blow for Daniel Farke’s side, with the Suffolk club also seeing their chance of automatic promotion fall to under 50% (48.3%).

The battle for a spot in the play-offs is also heating up. Southampton are near enough assured of a spot in the four-team battle (99.7%), West Brom look set to join them (91.9%) alongside either Ipswich (51.7%) or Leeds (39.2%). The fourth spot is currently most likely to go to Norwich (65.6%) ahead of Coventry City (35.4%).

Rotherham’s Friday night defeat to Plymouth saw them relegated to League One, with the other two relegation spots looking like going down to the wire.

As it stands, Sheffield Wednesday are the next most likely (54.8%), despite their 2-0 win at QPR on Saturday. Their chances have fallen from 73.0% before the weekend, though, with the battle to avoid relegation much tighter following the weekend’s action.

Huddersfield’s dramatic win over Millwall has seen them leapfrog Birmingham in the projected survival chances. Before the weekend, Huddersfield were given a 51.5% chance of relegation, with Birmingham’s chance at 30.5%. Now, following the Huddersfield victory and Birmingham’s loss to Leicester, Birmingham are the third most likely team to be relegated (45.8%) and Huddersfield move to 38.7%.

Millwall – who lost out to Huddersfield – are now given a 19.0% chance of relegation compared to their 8.4% chance before the weekend.

Stoke City’s upturn in form – winning eight points in their last five league games – has seen them move from a 49.1% chance of relegation on 7 March to just 6.5% chance now.

Championship Predictions April 8

3 April

All three of the clubs chasing automatic promotion from the Championship picked up vital wins on Easter Monday, as the race to reach the Premier League enters the final stretch. 

Leicester City came from behind at home to Norwich City to secure just their second win in seven Championship games to keep up the pressure on Leeds and Ipswich in the top two, but with a game in hand on the pair currently inside the automatic promotion spots, Enzo Maresca’s men know everything is still in their hands. 

The Foxes are still favourites to win automatic promotion (75.32%) and the Championship title (43.26%) with the Opta supercomputer, but both of those projections have fallen since the weekend, despite their win. 

Championship Promotion Odds 2 April

Ipswich Town sealed one of the most dramatic victories of the Championship season with their 3-2 win over Southampton at Portman Road.  

Jeremy Sarmiento’s clever finish in the 97th minute came with almost the last kick of the game to keep Ipswich top of the Championship table after Matchday 40.

This victory meant Kieran McKenna’s side came from behind to seal victory yet again, with their 31 points won from losing positions more than any other side in the top four tiers of English league football in 2023-24. They are also the highest-scoring team in the EFL, with their three goals in this win taking their tally to 84. 

Leeds United ended an action-packed day of Championship action with a 3-1 win over Hull City, although they left it late to secure all three points. 

Daniel Farke’s side are still ahead of Ipswich in the Opta supercomputer projections for the title (34.04% vs 22.52%) and automatic promotion (68.84% vs 54.92%), despite the Tractor Boys currently topping the table by a point. 

Championship Predicted Points
Jonathan Manuel / Data Analyst

Across the latest 10,000 season simulations by the supercomputer, the incredibly close battle for the automatic promotion spots can be shown by the average points tallies of the top three across those sims. 

As it stands, Leicester City edge out both Leeds and Ipswich for the title, winning an average of 98.3 points across the 10,000 simulations. Leeds (97.4) and Ipswich (97.1) are separated by just 0.3 points based on their average final tallies. 

The current projections see Southampton, West Brom and Norwich join Ipswich in the play-offs, with Coventry just missing out. 

At the bottom of the table, Rotherham are pretty much certain to be relegated. They need to win all their remaining games to stand any chance of surviving, and although they won on Monday against Millwall, it feels as if they are only delaying the inevitable. 

Championship Relegation Odds 2 April

Sheffield Wednesday are favourites to join them as it stands, with the Owls relegated in 72.98% of the season simulations by the Opta supercomputer. 

Danny Röhl’s side had enjoyed four successive league wins to boost their survival hopes, but a run of just one point collected in their four games since has struck a big blow to those dreams. 

Huddersfield Town (51.54%) are the only other side to be relegated in more than half of the latest 10,000 simulations, with just three points collected in their last six Championship matches. 

Birmingham’s 1-0 home win over Preston North End on Monday boosted their survival hopes, while Plymouth Argyle have sacked manager Ian Foster after only three months in charge.  

Plymouth collected just 12 points in 14 league games under Foster, with only Sunderland (11) and Rotherham (5) winning fewer since 5 January. They were relegated to League One in 22.38% of the most recent simulations, but should their poor run of form continue, that’ll be sure to increase across the next few weeks. 

Championship Predictions 3 April

30 March

At the start of yesterday, Ipswich Town were out of the automatic promotion places in the Championship. By the end of it, they found themselves top of the table.

Their 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers followed yet another defeat to Leicester City, this time at mid-table Bristol City, while Leeds were unable to take top spot to end a dramatic day of Championship action following their 2-2 draw away at Watford.

Ipswich have now won eight of their last nine Championship games, collecting 21 points from a possible 24. This run of form has followed a wobble by Kieran McKenna’s side, where they’d only won nine points from their previous nine league games. This recovery has taken them above both Leeds and Leicester in the table and moved them into first place.

The Opta supercomputer still projects that Leicester and Leeds are the most likely two sides to fill the two automatic promotion spots at the end of the season, but with so few games left to play, a single result can change those predictions fairly dramatically.

Who Will Win Promotion from the Championship

Before Good Friday’s action, Ipswich were being given a 28.8% chance of a top-two finish this season, but that’s risen by 17.9 percentage points to 46.7% based on a single day of action.

Much of that rise was down to Leicester’s poor result at Bristol City, where they lost 1-0 despite Jamie Vardy being presented with a host of good scoring opportunities that he didn’t take.

Enzo Maresca’s side have suffered an almighty collapse over their last six games, winning just four points from a possible 18. Since that poor run of form began on 17 February with a 2-1 loss at home to Middlesbrough, only bottom side Rotherham (1) have won fewer points in the Championship, while new leaders Ipswich have won 21 from eight games and second place Leeds have picked up 17 from seven games in that timeframe.

Leicester are still favourites for automatic promotion with the supercomputer (78.5%), but that fell by another 9.4 percentage points yesterday (from 87.9%) and based on current form won’t be the case for too much longer. On 29 December, with the Foxes 11 points clear of third place, Leicester were projected to finish in the automatic promotion places in 98.6% of the 10,000 supercomputer simulations.

The one positive for Leicester – and one of the main reasons that they are still favourites for promotion with the supercomputer – is that they have a game in hand on both Leeds and Ipswich.

It could have been a lot worse for Leicester – and a lot better for Leeds – if Watford hadn’t put in one of their best performances of the season on Friday night at home to the Whites.

Leeds were big favourites for the game ahead of kick-off, with Watford having the third fewest home points in the Championship this season (21) and Leeds having dropped just two points from their previous 13 league matches.

As Leeds dropped points unexpectedly with the supercomputer at Vicarage Road, their chances of automatic promotion have fallen from 78.5% after the last matchday to 70.8% now, but they are still second favourites for a top-two finish.

As it stands, here is the average points tally for each Championship club at the end of this season based on the Opta supercomputer’s current 10,000 season simulations:

Leicester City: 97.50
Leeds United: 96.47
Ipswich Town: 95.36
Southampton: 88.39
West Bromwich Albion: 79.35
Norwich City: 74.57
Coventry City: 73.18
Preston North End: 68.88
Hull City: 68.15
Middlesbrough: 65.05
Cardiff City: 61.77
Sunderland: 60.44
Bristol City: 60.26
Swansea City: 57.41
Watford: 57.07
Millwall: 52.82
Stoke City: 52.53
Queens Park Rangers: 50.60
Plymouth Argyle: 50.20
Blackburn Rovers: 49.23
Huddersfield Town: 47.46
Birmingham City: 46.95
Sheffield Wednesday: 46.80
Rotherham United: 26.61

Championship Predictions Mar 30

19 March

With Leicester City in FA Cup action at the weekend, Leeds United had a golden opportunity to pile on the pressure at the top of the Championship, and they took their chance by beating Millwall 2-0 at Elland Road on Sunday. The win – their 12th in their last 13 games – takes them top of the Championship for the first time this season, and knocks Leicester off top spot for the first time since 12 December.

Leicester have a game in hand, though, and remain favourites to win the league according to the Opta supercomputer. In the latest round of its simulations of the rest of the 2023-24 Championship campaign, Leicester won the title 58.4% of the time, while Leeds did so 33.1%. That means the weekend’s results reduced Leicester’s title chances by more than 6% and increased Leeds’ by 4.5%.

championship top two hopes

Third-placed Ipswich Town aren’t entirely out of the title race, though. They seem to have put their mid-season wobble firmly behind them, and recovered from the disappointment of last week’s defeat at Cardiff City with a thumping 6-0 win over relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

They have won seven of their last eight games and still have an outside chance of winning the league: Kieran McKenna’s side are given a 7.7% chance according to the supercomputer.

Leicester and Leeds are overwhelming favourites for automatic promotion, though, with their chances of finishing in the top two currently at 87.9% and 78.5%, respectively. Ipswich have a 28.8% chance of sneaking into the top two, and will need Leicester’s poor recent form to continue if they are to overtake them.

Fourth-placed Southampton’s top-two hopes are hanging by a thread now. Nine points off the automatic promotion spots, their chances are now rated at just 4.8%, although having not played at the weekend, they have two games in hand to claw their way back into contention.

The current top four are not yet mathematically certain of spots in the play-offs, but the supercomputer reckons they are as good as confirmed.

Likeliest to join them are West Brom and Norwich. West Brom, who beat Bristol City 2-0 on Saturday, are now given a 97.2% chance of finishing in the top six, while Norwich, who won 3-0 at Stoke, are far less certain of their spot. They finished in the top six in 48.3% of the supercomputer’s season simulations. Last season’s beaten play-off finalists Coventry are the next-most likely to finish in the play-off positions (33.5%).

At the other end of the table, none of the bottom nine won, leaving the relegation battle wide open.

Sheffield Wednesday’s defeat at Ipswich means that their chances of relegation stand at 53.2%, but Birmingham City were the biggest losers. They played a game in hand before their weekend fixture, but could not take advantage, losing 1-0 at home to both Middlesbrough and Watford. Their chances of being relegated shot up from 20.8% last week to 40.5% at the time of writing.

championship relegation chances

That leaves Huddersfield (32.8%), Queens Park Rangers (26.3%), Stoke City (17.4%) and Blackburn (15.5%) as the other teams most likely to drop down to the third tier. Plymouth (9.6%) and Millwall (4.6%) aren’t out of the woods yet either.

Just five points separate Millwall in 16th and Wednesday in 23rd, so with eight games still to play, there’s plenty of room for more twists and turns yet.

How Does the Opta Supercomputer Model Work?

• Opta’s League Prediction model estimates the likelihood of teams finishing in each position in the competition. We can therefore see how successful a team’s season is likely to be, whether it’s their relegation or title chances.

• The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) by using betting market odds and Opta Power Rankings. The odds and rankings are based on historical and recent team performances.

• The model considers the strength of opponents by using these match outcome probabilities and simulates the remaining fixtures in the competition thousands of times. By analysing the outcome of each of these simulations, the model can see how often teams finished in each league position to create our final predictions.

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