English Championship 2021/22 Season Preview


Week One


Football is back, so we’re back and predicting things again.

This week we’ve a double-header as we have a table predicting the most likely teams to be Promoted, Play-off contenders and Relegation candidates, as well as the usual weekly likely scores.

The first table below (with the shades of Orange and Yellow) gives the most likely odds of each of those outcomes for each team. It’s split into ‘Promotion, Play-Offs and Relegation’. On the left hand-side we have the teams listed by abbreviation (SHU = Sheffield United, WBA = West Bromwich Albion)

As you can see, unsurprisingly the three relegated teams are the most likely to go back up. All three benefit from ‘parachute payments’ which probably give them an unfair advantage for the next couple of seasons. A lot of the media assessments of the Championship seem to think that at least two of these three teams will go back up.

There are however also some interesting teams in amongst the more likely playoff contenders – Bournemouth, who were strong for most of last season and certainly don’t seem to have been massively weakened over the Summer, Cardiff and Barnsley (Cardiff who I think made a decent late run and Barnsley who emerged through clever use of data and building a ‘system’ – that will be properly tested with a new manager as their previous one has gone to West Brom) are also contenders.


Although in our model Swansea are likely play-off contenders again (quite similar odds to the top 5 in our model at 37.5), the factors not in our model, such as Swansea only appointing a new manager only a few days before the start of the season suggests it may be quite a bit more difficult to repeat last season.

Reading, another team that did well for part of last season (they were in the play-off positions for most of the season, only falling out in the latter part of the second half after a dismal end to the season) are now under severe financial restrictions so are more likely to be in a relegation fight than promotion battle (they are nearly 9% to get relegated in our model).

At the other end of the table we have Huddersfield in last place giving them next to no change of promotion (0.1%) and with a 45.7% likely relegation looming. Birmingham don’t fare much better on 40.7% and Bristol City and Derby County are also on 26% to get relegated. The other interesting thing is we’ve included a ‘promoted’ variable which has possibly given Hull, Peterborough and Blackpool a better chance of staying up than might normally be expected, that said most pundits seem to also give them a decent chance of staying up, in large part because teams like Derby are expected to struggle.

First Weekend of Football

On to this weekend’s games and you can see our likely winners in the ‘Home and Away’ section of ‘Outcome Probs’ below in the next table.  This is then compared to ‘Mean odds’ on the right of the table below. ‘Mean odds’ are the average bookmaker odds for this weekend. There is a decent amount of similarity between our two models but there are some differences which I will highlight below.

One or two, as usual stand out. With Derby v Huddersfield, bookmakers heavily favour Huddersfield at 54% (the highest odds they give for any team winning this weekend). Our model favours Derby but that’s because it takes into account past results and ELO ratings and not the number of fully contracted players Derby have!


As you can also see – all of the matches bar one game have a 1-1 score as the most likely outcome (all within 10.8%-12.4% likely to happen as the most likely score).

This is in part because there are no recent matches and although the table is partly based on ELO ratings, once the season gets underway in form teams will start to heavily influence the likely future outcomes.

The exception to the 1-1 scoreline is Sheffield United who also top our likely Promoted teams, they are at nearly 60% to win in our model, with bookmakers having them on 52%.