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How many points do Newcastle need and what does it tell us about next season?

4 years ago

As Newcastle United approach half-way in the season, I’ve had a look at statistics from previous seasons to see if they give any pointers to the future.

Just for the record, I said in a Mag article before the start of the season that I thought we would win the league, and I predicted we would end with 100+ points – and I feel even more confident of that now.

However, it’s just the nature of things that as the race goes on you start to look towards the finish line – and with Newcastle you always have it in the back of your mind that if things can go wrong then….

But looking at 3 questions:

(1) How many points does it take to win the Championship?

I’ve looked at the period from 2005 up to date – that’s 11 seasons.

To explain how I’ve dealt with the numbers let’s look at 2005-6. That year Reading won the league with a record 106 points, with Sheffield United second on 90. Now while Reading got 106 points, they didn’t need that many to win – all they needed was 1 more than second place i.e 91.

So, to win the Championship in last 11 seasons has taken: 91, 87, 80, 84, 92, 85, 89, 80, 94, 90 and 90 points. In each case that’s 1 point more than second place.

If you average that, the average points tally required to win the Championship is 87.5.

And the highest number need to win the Championship is 94.

After 22 games we have 49 points. History suggests that if we get another 45 from the remaining 24 games we will finish top. And on an average season we would need another 39 to win the league.

(2) How many points does it take to finish second and get automatic promotion?

Using the same method, to beat the teams finishing 3rd by 1 point would have required 82, 85, 76, 81, 80, 81, 87, 78, 86, 87, 90.

Last season was a bit of a statistical freak – Brighton were unbelievably unlucky in finishing 3rd with 89 points and not going up. But even taking account of that, history suggests that 90 will definitely get you up.

And the average requirement is 83 points.

So, on an average season, we would need another 34 points from 24 games. To be safe and reach 90 points we need another 41.

To put that in context, 41 points from 24 games is 1.7 per game – which is almost exactly the form Leeds or Sheff Wed have shown so far this season.

(3) Is there any relationship between where teams finish in the promotion season, and where they finish the next season in the Premiership?

Average position of teams finishing 1st – 15.6

Best finishes – Reading 8th 2006-7, Newcastle 12th 2010-11, Leicester 14th 2014-15 (Interestingly, those are the three teams to have amassed over 100 points – which suggests that when a team is strong enough to do that well in the Championship, they do pretty well in the Premiership the next season.)

Number of relegations the following season – 3/10

Average position of teams finishing second – 14.3

Best finishes – Birmingham 9th 2009-10, West Brom 11th 2010-11, Stoke 2008-9 & Norwich 2011-12 12th

Number of relegations the following season – 3/10

Average position of teams going up via play-offs – 16.5

Best finishes – West Ham 2012-13 10th, Swansea 2011-12 & Palace 2014-15 11th

Number of relegations the following season – 6/10

So you can break that down into several different questions:

(1 – i) Do teams that finish first tend to do better the following season in the Premiership? The answer is NO – in fact teams finishing second finish higher on average, and are no more likely to be relegated the following season.

(1 – ii) Do teams that go up automatically do better the following season than the teams who go up via the play-offs? The answer is YES – teams going up through the play-offs tend to finish lower, and are twice as likely to be relegated.

(1 – iii) Do most of the promoted teams get relegated the following season? The answer is YES and NO. Most of the teams who go up through the play-offs are relegated. But only 30% of the teams who go up automatically come straight back down.

(1 – iv) Is there any relationship between the number of points won and the performance the following season? Up to a point, the answer is YES. Teams that finish with lots of points tend to do fine the following season. None of the teams who finished with 100+ have struggled the following season, and only 1 team finishing with 90+ has gone straight back down (Burnley in 2013-15).

So, if we are looking for straws in the wind about next season in the Premiership (assuming there is no catastrophe between now and May):

  • Don’t assume that promoted teams are likely to struggle – that just isn’t true. Certainly not for teams who go up automatically.
  • 1st or 2nd is only important for the glory of winning this year – it makes no difference at all to next year.
  • If we end up with 100 points or anywhere close to that, history suggests we will do fine next season.

Of course the most important thing to ensure we do well next season is to keep Rafa happy.


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