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STATS: Why Leeds and Blackpool could be Marching on Together back to League One?

A look over the last 10 years of relegation and why it could mean bad news for Leeds

by Paddy Power | August 8, 2014

With the football league kicking off it’s new season people everywhere are asking the serious questions. Like ‘who will win the battle for the last hob nob between Steve McNulty and Ade Akinfenwa in League 2?’ And of course there is the small matter of avoiding the lingering fear of relegation that dogs a lot of teams. There are some massive rivalries in the football league which makes watching your sworn enemies drown fill you with an evil kind of glee.



The Championship is nearly always the most exciting league outside La Liga and The Premiership. Certainly more so than France, Germany and Italy. It may lack in quality, but more than makes up for it in excitment and it looks like this season will be no different. Sparks look set to fly as teams fondle the udders of the Premier League cash cow. the relegation dogfight always throws out some surprising teams and this year will be no different.

On the graph we have plotted Rotherham’s season in 2004/05 as the worst in the last ten years, Peterborough as the best team to go down in 2009/10 and an average of the teams that have gone down over the last ten years. On average a team that goes down will lose just over half their games and concede 1.5 goals a game. It doesn’t take a genius to surmise that to stay up a tight back four and the ability to grind out wins are the order of the day. Last season Blackpool (8/15) only won 11 games, losing 22 and had the worst goals tally in the entire division with a measly 38, 5 goals below the average. Leeds United (7/2) won 16 games, but also lost 21 and conceded 67 goals. Two below both averages.

Some familiar names who could be caught in a relegation scrap:

  • If Blackpool (8/15) don’t go down this season we’ll get Jose Regia’s face tattooed on our arses. They lost 27 players at the end of last season and have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for any sort of a player. Be surprised if they’re still there by January.
  • Rotherham (11/4) are a side that will have to scrap for everything this season. Paul Green Frazer Richardson and Kirk Broadfoot were all good signings, but if top scorer Keiren Agard leaves they’ll seriously struggle for goals.
  • Leeds United (7/2) could be an outside bet to go down. Since Ross McCormack joined Fulham a replacement hasn’t been brought in. If Leeds don’t get someone to bag 20 goals a season they’ll be gone by Christmas.

Blackpool look like the safest money bet to go down, but only seven points separated 18th and 22nd last season. Whatever happens you can be guaranteed it’ll be messy and exciting. A bit like a night out with Charlie Sheen. 


League One


League One can be the most difficult to call because it’s anyone’s guess what sort of team will turn up. For punters that can make life difficult, but if you call it there is good prices to make money.

On the graph we have plotted Stockport in 2009/10 as the worst team to go down, Hartlepool in 2004/05 as the best and the averages over the last ten years. The average for teams to go down is to lose 50% of games, but pick up roughly a point per game. Last season Crewe (7/5) lost just under 47% of their games and shipped 80 goals. The most in the football league. Unless they borrow Jose Mourinho’s bus they may as well start planning for League 2 now. Notts County (13/5) lost an incredible 26 games last season and conceded 77 goals. They rode their luck to the very end last season, but it is unlikely to happen again. Colchester (6/4) lost 19 games last season, but only scored 53 goals. If their goal tally doesn’t increase they could be have the prospect of visiting St. James’ Park. In Exeter.

Some familiar names who could be caught in a relegation scrap:

  • Crewe (7/5) barely scraped survival last season and this season look nothing short of screwed. Chuks Aneke was their top scorer last season, but has joined Zulte Waregem and Max Clayton, their promising young striker is on the verge of joining Wolves.
  • Notts County (13/5) seem like the slight outsiders and while they have added some good players to their squad like Hayden Mullins and Alan Smith, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough. County finished a measly three points above relegation last season and replaced Bartosz Białkowski with Roy Carroll, which is a bit like replacing David Beckham with Peter Crouch in your underpant modelling campaign.
  • Colchester (6/4) are second favorites behind Crewe even though they were six points above relegation last season. Their main problem is depending on Freddie Sears for goals. That explains it all really. Coventry finished two places further back, but had 21 more goals.
  • Gillingham (8/5) scored 60 goals last season, but conceded 79, the second highest in the league. They need to shore up the back four or they are gone.

The smart money seems to be going towards Crewe. Unless something drastic happens they’ll be gone by April. Notts County look certain for the drop, but Shaun Derry knows how to grind out results so they may scrape it. After that it’s going to be a straight up scrap between three or four other teams.


League 2


League 2. It ain’t pretty, it ain’t nice, but it gets the job done. The Tony Pulis of the Football League. This will be the tightest of the three divisions. There was only six points separating the bottom two and 16th last season.

On the graph we have plotted Darlington in 2009/10 as the worst team to go down, Barnet in 2012/13 as the best and the average of teams relegated over the last 10 seasons. Following the trend of the other leagues clubs lost 50% of their games and picked up 0.9 points per game. Morecambe (4/1) are joint favourites to bite the bullet and kiss league football goodbye. They struggled for goals last season and haven’t added to a squad that finished four points above relegation. Wycombe (9/2) scraped survival by three goals last season even though they only scored 46 for the entire season. Dean Morgan was top scorer with 8 goals. An outside shot at going back to were they came from are Cambridge United (15/2). Apart from Luke Chadwick they are a Conference standard team.

Some familiar names who could be caught in a relegation scrap:

  • Morecambe (4/1) seem like the best bet to go unless they can bring in a new striker in the next couple of weeks.
  • Wycombe (9/2) are in the same boat as Morecambe and need someone to bang in the goals. They averaged a measly goal per game last season.

Morecambe and Wycombe seem doomed from the start. Cambridge have a good shout of staying up, but they will be scrapping. Luke Chadwick could prove the difference. There’s a sentence we never thought we’d write.


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