Goal Value – An Alternative Top Scorer Chart

Each summer, every manager in the Scottish Premiership craves a 20-goal-a-season striker.  Perceived wisdom says that a regular goalscorer is worth a couple of places in the Scottish Premiership table, enough to drag relegation battlers towards mid-table safety, or safe mid-table sides towards a spot in Europe.  It is certainly true that having a regular goalscorer is never a bad thing, but a striker’s value to their team depends not only on how many goals they score, but also when they score them.

One last minute winner is surely worth more than five late consolation goals in heavy defeats.  Scoring 20 goals isn’t quite as important if they are all just putting the figurative icing on the metaphorical cake of a comfortable victory.  Rather than judging players purely by the number of goals they score, perhaps it would be better to measure them by the overall importance of their goals.

 

The Value of a Goal

Here, we propose a new method for doing exactly that.  The concept is simple; we estimate how many points a team earned as a result of a player’s goals.  A naïve way to do this would be to remove the goals scored by a player from each result, and then recalculate their points tally based on these new results.  For example, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win, would be worth 2 points to the team, while scoring twice in a 2-1 win would be worth 3 points.

However, this method is too simplistic, since it fails to consider each goal within the context of the match.  If a player scores the opening goal in a 3-0 win, then that goal still has a considerable value to his team, since it completely changes the tactical dynamic of the match.  However, scoring the third goal in the same match has a lot less value, since the outcome was probably already decided by then.  Under the naïve method outlined above, both goals would be worth 0 points to their team.

 

Expected Points

We therefore propose a more realistic method which considers each goal within the greater context of the match.  This method is based on a quantity which we will call expected points (xPts).  The xPts is a measure of the number of points a team would expect to earn given the current scoreline and time played.  This is calculated by looking the final results in a set of previous matches which had the same scoreline after the same amount of time.

For example, if a team is leading 1-0 after 65 minutes, we can calculate their xPts by identifying previous games which were 1-0 after 65 minutes and looking at how many of those were won, drawn and lost.  The xPts is then given by totalling up the number of points earned by teams in those positions, divided by the total number of matches.  Suppose we looked at 20 such matches, with 15 resulting in victories, 3 in draws and 2 in defeats.  The total number of points earned would be 15×3 + 3×1 + 2×0 = 48.  The xPts in that scenario would be 48/20 = 2.4.

Our xPts values are produced using data from all 912 Scottish Premiership matches between 2013/14 and 2016/17, which was kindly supplied by the SPFL.  The time of each goal is provided in minutes and seconds, and therefore our xPts values are computed down to the nearest second.  To simplify our calculations, we base the xPts simply on the size of lead rather than than exact scoreline – a 1-0 lead is treated as being the same as a 2-1 lead.

 

Goal Value

We can measure the importance of each individual goal by computing the effect which it has on a team’s xPts.  If a team had an xPts of 2.4 before a goal, and 2.8 afterwards, then that goal is worth 0.4 points to the team.  We will call this the goal value (GV).

Some additional consideration must be given to goals scored from penalties.  The traditional goalscoring charts include these, but many newer analytical exclude penalty goals since they can artificially inflate a player’s tally.  We take an approach which lies somewhere in between.

Thanks to fellow statto Thom Watt, we know that in the period covered by our data, there were 241 penalties awarded, and 195 of those were scored (80.9%).  We use this 80.9% value as the baseline for an “average” penalty taker.  When a team scores a penalty, 80.9% of the value of the goal comes from the act of winning the penalty, but the other 19.1% comes from the player who actually puts it away.  Therefore, we calculate the GV for a penalty goal as being 19.1% of the difference in xPts.  If a team had an xPts of 2.4 before a penalty goal, and 2.8 afterwards, then the GV is given by 0.191 x 0.4 = 0.0764.

 

An example – Motherwell 2-0 Kilmarnock

To illustrate the GV statistic, I will outline the calculations for both Motherwell goals in their 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock on 9th September (this match was chosen since there was one regular goal and one penalty).

Ryan Bowman opened the scoring for Motherwell after 64:38.  The xPts for a side who are level after 64:38 is 1.226, while the xPts for a side who are a goal ahead after 64:38 is 2.452.  This goal was not a penalty, therefore the GV is 2.452 – 1.226 = 1.186.  Bowman’s goal was worth 1.186 points to Motherwell.

Louis Moult scored Motherwell’s second goal with a penalty on 87:29.  The xPts for a side who are a goal ahead after 87:29 is 2.807, while the xPts for a side who are two goals ahead after 87:29 is 2.989.  Moult’s goal was a penalty, so it only receives 19.1% weight, and the GV is given by 0.191*(2.989-2.807), which is 0.035.  Moult therefore only earned Motherwell 0.035 points by scoring his penalty.

 

The Goal Value Data

The GV for every goal in the 2017/18 Scottish Premiership, along with the relevant calculation, is outlined in this Google Docs spreadsheet, which I will keep updated every week. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fPPj8PmuZf-S4MlJH2nrsgG2TSwsCGVVmMT8xU3eCBQ/edit?usp=sharing

 

Alternative Top Scorer Chart

We can produce an alternative top scorer chart for the Premiership by adding together the goal values for each individual player.  This is not an attempt to replace the traditional goalscoring chart, but rather to provide some additional information and context.

The table below shows the current top 10, as of 11th December 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 13.40.41.png

 

The full alternative goalscorer chart can be found at the following link, which will also be updated every week. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ez_kSEz81IK_hpP40GfDbqomRNXly1LzM_kOUDV0dPo/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

 

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League Cup Group Stage

The final group stage matches of the 2015/16 League Cup will be played this weekend, and 11 of the 12 qualification spots are still up for grabs.  Rangers (the only Premiership side to have played all 4 matches) are the only side who have already secured progression to the next round.

Group Winners

The 8 group winners will be guaranteed a spot in the next round of the competition.

A total of 18 clubs still have a theoretical chance of winning their group, and the permutations required for each club are listed below.  Note that ludicrously unlikely permutations of results have been placed in italics.

Group A

East Fife are top of the group with 8 points, but have already played all of their matches.  Peterhead or Forfar Athletic could still overhaul them.

East Fife will win the group if:

  • Peterhead fail to beat Dumbarton (A) and Forfar fail to beat Dundee (A)
  • Peterhead fail to beat Dumbarton (A) and Forfar beat Dundee (A) 1-0.

 

Peterhead will win the group if:

  • Peterhead win against Dumbarton (A)
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar fail to beat Dundee.
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar beat Dundee by a one goal margin.
  • Peterhead earn 2 points against Dumbarton (A) AND Forfar beat Dundee by a two goal margin AND Peterhead score at least the same number of goals as Forfar on Saturday.

 

Forfar Athletic will win the group if:

  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by any scoreline other than 1-0 AND Peterhead take 1 point or fewer against Dumbarton (A).
  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by a two goal margin AND Peterhead earn no more than 2 points against Dumbarton (A) and Forfar score more goals than Peterhead on Saturday.
  • Forfar win against Dundee (A) by a margin of 3 goals or more AND Peterhead earn no more than 2 points against Dumbarton (A).

 

 

Group B

St Johnstone currently lead the way with 7 points, ahead of Stirling Albion (6) and Brechin City (5).

St Johnstone will win the group if:

  • St Johnstone beat Stirling Albion (H).
  • St Johnstone earn 2 points against Stirling Albion (H)
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City take 2 points or fewer against Falkirk (A).
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 5 goals or fewer.
  • St Johnstone earn 1 point against Stirling Albion (H) AND Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 6 goals AND (Goals scored by Brechin – Goals scored by St Johnstone) < 2.

 

Stirling Albion will win the group if:

  • Stirling Albion beat St Johnstone (A).

 

Brechin City will win the group if:

  • Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 7 goals or more AND Stirling Albion defeat St Johnstone (A) on penalties.
  • Brechin City beat Falkirk (A) by a margin of 6 goals or more AND Stirling Albion defeat St Johnstone (A) on penalties AND Brechin score at least 2 more goals than St Johnstone.

 

Group C

Inverness Caledonian Thistle (7 points) currently lead the table by virtue of having scored more away goals than Dundee United (7 points).  Dunfermline (6 points) are in third place, and can still win the group.

Inverness will win the group if:

  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United fail to beat Dunfermline (H).
  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness record a bigger winning margin than Dundee United.
  • Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness record the same winning margin as Dundee United AND Inverness score at least as many goals as Dundee United.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of 3 goals AND Inverness score as many goals as Dunfermline.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3-0 scoreline AND Inverness score at least 2 goals.
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H).
  • Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness score at least the same number of goals as Dundee United.
  • Inverness earn 1 point against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness score at least the same number of goals as Dundee United.

 

Dundee United will win the group if:

  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness fail to beat Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United have a larger winning margin than Inverness.
  • Dundee United beat Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness beat Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United have the same winning margin as Inverness AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.
  • Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 1 point or fewer against Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United earn 2 points against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.
  • Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness lose to Arbroath (H).
  • Dundee United earn 1 point against Dunfermline (H) AND Inverness earn 1 point against Arbroath (H) AND Dundee United score more goals than Inverness.

 

Dunfermline Athletic will win the group if:

  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) AND Inverness take 1 point or fewer against Arbroath (H).
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a margin of at least 4 goals AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H).
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3 goal margin AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline score at least 2 more goals than Inverness.
  • Dunfermline beat Dundee United (A) by a 3 goal margin AND Inverness take 2 points against Arbroath (H) AND Dunfermline score exactly one more goal than Inverness AND Dunfermline score at least 4 goals.

 

Note that, no matter what happens in other matches, both Inverness and Dundee United can guarantee progression to the next round by winning their respective matches.  10 points is enough to guarantee one of the best runner-up spots.

 

Group D

Alloa Athletic lead the group with 9 points and face a winner takes all clash with second placed Raith Rovers (8 points).

Alloa Athletic will win the group if:

  • Alloa avoid defeat against Raith Rovers (A).

 

Raith Rovers will win the group if:

  • Raith Rovers beat Alloa (H).

 

Note that if Raith defeat Alloa on penalties, then both sides would have 10 points.  Alloa would win the group on goal difference, but Raith would be guaranteed progression to the next round as one of the best runners-up.

 

Group E

Partick Thistle lead the way with 9 points and only Queen of the South (6) can catch them.

Partick Thistle will win the group if:

  • Partick Thistle avoid defeat against Queen’s Park (H).
  • Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) AND Queen of the South fail to beat Stenhousemuir (H).
  • Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) by a one goal margin AND Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) by a one goal margin AND (Goals scored by Queens – Goals scored by Thistle) < 3.

 

Queen of the South will win the group if:

  • Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) AND Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) AND there is at least a 3 goal swing in terms of goal difference.
  • Queen of the South beat Stenhousemuir (H) by a one goal margin AND Partick Thistle lose to Queen’s Park (H) by a one goal margin AND Queen of the South score at least 3 more goals than Partick Thistle.

 

Group F

Rangers have already secured Group F with 12 points.

 

Group G

Ayr United lead the group with 9 points, but have already played all of their matches.  Hamilton and St Mirren are both on 6 points with one game remaining.

Ayr United will win the group if:

  • Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City (H).
  • Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) by a margin of 3 goals or fewer.

 

Hamilton Accies will win the group if:

  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City (H).
  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) < 5.
  • Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) = 5 AND (Goals scored by St Mirren – Goals scored by Hamilton) <5.

 

St Mirren will win the group if:

  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) by a margin of 4 or more goals AND Hamilton fail to beat Livingston (H).
  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) > 5.
  • St Mirren beat Edinburgh City (H) AND Hamilton beat Livingston (H) AND (St Mirren’s winning margin – Hamilton’s winning margin) = 5 AND (Goals scored by St Mirren – Goals scored by Hamilton) > 4.

 

Group H

Morton lead the way with 8 points, ahead of Kilmarnock (6) in second.

Greenock Morton will win the group if:

  • Morton take at least 2 points against Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock take 1 point or fewer against Albion Rovers (H).
  • Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H) AND Kilmarnock beat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer.
  • Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H) AND Kilmarnock beat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND Morton score at least 3 goals more than Kilmarnock.
  • Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H) by a margin of 2 goals or fewer AND Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H).
  • Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton score at least 3 goals more than Kilmarnock.

 

Kilmarnock will win the group if:

  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 4 or more goals AND Morton take 1 point against Berwick Rangers (H).
  • Kilmarnock defeat Albion Rovers (H) by a margin of 3 goals AND (Goals scored by Morton – Goals scored by Killie) < 2.
  • Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers by a margin of 4 or more goals.
  • Kilmarnock take 2 points against Albion Rovers (H) AND Morton lose to Berwick Rangers by a margin of 3 goals AND (Goals scored by Morton – Goals scored by Killie) < 2.

 

Best Runners-up

The 4 best runners-up across the groups will also progress to the next round.  This is a hugely complex scenario, and it is impossible for me to provide a comprehensive list of exactly what each club needs to qualify, but a brief overview is provided here.

The minimum and maximum points tallies for the runners up in each group are displayed in the plot below.  The left hand side of the bar shows the lowest possible tally, and the right end of the bar marks the maximum possible tally.

Group

At the moment, it is possible that group runners-up could have anything between 6 and 10 points.  My prediction is that clubs will need at least 9 points to have a chance of finishing as the best runner-up, though it is still possible that someone could sneak through with 8.

The list below provides a run-down of which clubs could finish on which points tallies.

10 points

There are only two groups where the runners-up could finish on 10 points (C & D).  Therefore, 10 points will guarantee progression to the next round.

In Group C, Inverness and Dundee United can both end up on 10 points by winning their final fixtures.  If both clubs do so, then whichever one finishes as runner-up will be sure to go through.

In Group D, the prospect of the runner-up having 10 points is slightly less likely.  This would only occur if Raith Rovers defeated Alloa Athletic on penalties, thus leaving both sides on 10.  It is possible that both sides could conspire to ensure this result, but a victory for either team could see them seeded in the next round, which would hugely boost their chances of reaching at least the quarters.

 

9 points

It seems likely that we might see quite a few runners-up on 9 points.  It is still possible for the runners-up in Groups C, D, E, F, G and H to end up with 9 points – so potentially two clubs with 9 points could miss out on progression.

If multiple clubs end up with 9 points, the tie-breakers are (1) goal difference, (2) goals scored, (3) away goals scored, (4) matches won, (5) away matches won (6) drawing of lots.  Building up a big goal difference could therefore be crucial for the sides who are currently likely to finish on 9 points.

In Group C, Inverness or Dundee United could end up on 9 points if they end up winning their weekend matches on penalties.  In both cases, these clubs would have a goal difference of +5  Alternatively Dunfermline Athletic could end up in second place on 9 points if they beat Dundee United, but Inverness win against Arbroath.  Dunfermline’s current goal difference is +2, but that would increase based on their winning margin.

In Group D, Alloa Athletic could end up in 2nd place with 9 points if they lose to Raith Rovers.  Their current goal difference is +7, but that would decrease with their defeat.  Alternatively, Raith Rovers could finish 2nd with 9 points if they lose on penalties to Alloa.  In that scenario, Raith’s goal difference would be +2.

In Group E, Queen of the South may finish in 2nd with 9 points if they beat Stenhousemuir at home and Partick Thistle avoid defeat against Queen’s Park.  The Doonhamers currently have a goal difference of +3, and that would increase with a win.  Partick Thistle could also finish 2nd on 9 points if they lose to Queen’s Park and Queen of the South overhaul them on goal difference.  Thistle’s goal difference is currently +5, but that would decrease with their defeat.

In Group F, Motherwell and Stranraer face off at Stair Park to decide who will finish as runners-up.  Both clubs have 6 points, so if either side wins in 90 minutes then they would take that tally to 9.  Motherwell’s current goal difference is +3, while Stranraer’s is 0.

In Group G, Ayr United, Hamilton Accies and St Mirren could all still finish on 9 points.  This group is likely to be decided on goal difference – Ayr have finished all their matches and have +3, Hamilton are currently on +4 and Saints are on -1.  If the runners-up in this group have 9 points, then their goal difference is guaranteed to be at least +3.

In Group H, Kilmarnock would finish as runners-up with 9 points if they beat Albion Rovers at home and Morton take at least a couple of points at home to Berwick.  Killie’s current goal difference is 0, so they may need to increase that drastically to progress.  A slightly less likely scenario would see Morton finish as runners-up on 9 points if they lose on penalties to Berwick and Killie win heavily.  In that case, Morton would have a goal difference of +3.

The plot below shows the range of possible goal differences for each club who could finish on 9 points.  The red dots mark the current goal differences, and the green bars cover the range of goal differences which they could finish up with if they end up on 9 points.  The dashed lines separate groups (obviously only one club from each section can end up in consideration for the best second placed spot).

GD

 

8 points

Depending on results in other groups, it’s possible that runners-up with 8 points could sneak through.  The runners-up in Groups A and B cannot have any more than 8 points, and there are a number of teams in other groups who could end up with this total.

In Group A, East Fife could finish as runners-up if Peterhead beat Dumbarton and Forfar don’t beat Dundee.  The Fifers have finished all their matches and have a goal difference of +1.  Forfar Athletic could also finish as runners-up on 8 points if they win by a scoreline other than 1-0 and Peterhead win, or if they win 1-0 and Peterhead lose (there are also some other unlikely scenarios).  Forfar currently have a goal difference of 0.  Peterhead could also end up 2nd on 8 if they beat Dumbarton on penalties, but Forfar beat Dundee by a couple of goals.

In Group B, Stirling Albion could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they beat St Johnstone on penalties.  In that case, their goal difference would be +3.  Brechin could finish as runners-up on 8 if they beat Falkirk, and the Saints v Stirling game ends up with any result other than Stirling winning on penalties.  Their goal difference is currently -1, but would improve with a win.  It is theoretically possible for St Johnstone to finish 2nd on 8 points, but that would require a very unlikely turn of events.

In Group C, Dundee United could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose to Dunfermline on penalties and Inverness get at least a couple of points against Arbroath.  In that scenario, United would have a goal difference of +5.  Inverness could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose on penalties to Arbroath, and they too would have a goal difference of +5.  Dunfermline could finish as runners-up on 8 points if they beat Dundee United on penalties, and Inverness lose to Arbroath.  Their goal difference in that scenario would be +2.

In Group D, Raith Rovers will finish as runners-up on 8 points if they lose to Alloa in their final match.  Raith’s current goal difference is +2, and that would decrease with a defeat.

In Group E, Queen of the South would end up with 8 points if they beat Stenhousemuir on penalties.  In this scenario, their goal difference would be +3.

In Group F, either Motherwell or Stranraer could end up in second place with 8 points if they win on penalties on Saturday.  Motherwell’s goal difference is +3, while Stranraer’s is 0.

In Group G, Hamilton could end up as runners-up with 8 points if they beat Livingston on penalties, and St Mirren fail to beat Edinburgh City.  In that scenario, Hamilton’s goal difference would be +4.  St Mirren could finish as runners-up with 8 points if they beat Edinburgh City on penalties and Hamilton took no more than 1 point against Livingston.  Their goal difference would be -1.

In Group H, Kilmarnock would finish second with 8 points if they beat Albion Rovers on penalties and Morton avoided a heavy defeat against Berwick.  In that scenario, Killie’s goal difference would be 0.  Morton could finish second on 8 points if they lose to Berwick and Killie beat Albion Rovers.  The Ton currently have a goal difference of +3, but that would drop with a defeat.

 

7 points

It is highly unlikely that 7 points will be enough to qualify for the next round.  It is already certain that the runners-up in Groups D and F will pick up at least 8 points, and it seems very likely that runners-up in many other groups will earn at least that many.

In Group A, Peterhead, Forfar and Dundee could all theoretically finish 2nd with 7 points.

In Group B, St Johnstone, Stirling Albion or Brechin could finish second with 7.

In Group C, Inverness, Dundee United or Dunfermline could all pick up 7 points in second place.

In Group E, Queen of the South could finish 2nd on 7 points by losing on penalties on Saturday.

In Group G, Hamilton or St Mirren could finish up second with 7 points.

In Group H, Killie could come in second with 7 points if they lose on penalties to Albion Rovers.

 

6 points

The runners-up in Groups A, B, E, G and H could still all finish on 6 points, so it is theoretically possible that one of these sides could sneak through.  This would require all of the following results to occur:

  • Dumbarton beat Peterhead (H)
  • Dundee defeat Forfar (A) on penalties
  • St Johnstone beat Stirling Albion (H)
  • Falkirk beat Brechin (H) either in 90 minutes, or on penalties
  • Stenhousemuir beat Queen of the South (A)
  • Livingston beat Hamilton (A)
  • Edinburgh City beat St Mirren (A)
  • Albion Rovers beat Kilmarnock (A)

 

In this scenario, one of Dundee, Falkirk, Livingston or Albion Rovers could sneak through on 6 points.

 

Summary

The plot below shows the possible range of points for each possible 2nd place finisher.  The dashed blue lines separate out the groups, and the red bars go from the minimum to maximum point tallies with which the club could conceivably finish second.

Club.jpeg

 

 

The 2015/16 Run-in

This aims to be a comprehensive guide to the final weeks of 2015/16 SPFL season.  This page will be updated after each set of matches, and will cover the promotion and relegation issues in each of the four divisions.

Updated to include matches played on 1st May.

Premiership Title

The Premiership champions will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Champions League.

Only Celtic and Aberdeen can still win the league.

8th May

Celtic will be champions if:

  • Celtic avoid defeat against Aberdeen (H).

 

Europa League

The Scottish Cup winners (Hibernian or Rangers) will qualify for the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Europa League.

The teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd in the Scottish Premiership will qualify for the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa League.

Celtic, Aberdeen and Heart of Midlothian have all secured at least a Europa League spot via the league.

 

Premiership Relegation Play-offs

The club finishing 11th in the Premiership will enter the relegation play-offs.

It is still possible for Kilmarnock, Hamilton Accies or Partick Thistle to finish in the relegation play-off spot.

7th May

Partick Thistle will be safe from relegation if:

  • Partick Thistle beat Kilmarnock (A).

 

Hamilton Academical will be safe from relegation if:

  • Hamilton Accies beat Dundee (A) AND Kilmarnock lose to Partick Thistle (H).

 

Kilmarnock will be guaranteed to finish 11th if:

  • Kilmarnock lose to Partick Thistle (H) AND Hamilton Accies beat Dundee (A).

 

 

Premiership Automatic Relegation

Dundee United will finish 12th in the Premiership and will play in the Championship next season.

 

 

Championship Title

Rangers are the league champions, and will play in the Premiership next season.

 

 

Championship Promotion Play-offs

Falkirk, Hibernian and Raith Rovers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, and will enter the promotion play-offs along with the side finishing 11th in the Premiership.

The format is as follows:

Quarter-Final: Hibernian v Raith Rovers
Semi-Final: Falkirk v QF Winner
Final: 11th v SF Winner

All matches are played over two legs.

 

 

 Championship Relegation Play-offs

Livingston will finish 9th in the Championship and will enter the relegation play-offs.

 

Championship Automatic Relegation

Alloa Athletic will finish 10th in the Championship, and will play in League 1 next season.

 

 

League 1 Title

Dunfermline Athletic are League 1 champions, and will play in the Championship next season.

 

League 1 Promotion Play-offs

Ayr United, Peterhead and Stranraer finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th will enter the promotion play-offs along with Livingston, who finished 9th in the Championship.  The format is as follows:

Semi-Final: Ayr United v Peterhead & Livingston v Stranraer
Final: SF Winner 1 v SF Winner 2

 

 

League 1 Relegation Play-offs

Cowdenbeath finished 9th in League 1 and will enter the relegation play-offs.

 

 

League 1 Automatic Relegation

Forfar Athletic finished 10th in League 1, and will play in League 2 next season.

 

 

League 2 Title

East Fife are League 2 champions, and will play in League 1 next season.

 

League 2 Promotion Play-offs

Elgin City, Clyde and Queen’s Park finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th will enter the promotion play-offs along with Cowdenbeath, who finished 9th in League 1.  The format is as follows:

Semi-Final: Elgin City v Clyde & Cowdenbeath v Queen’s Park
Final: SF Winner 1 v SF Winner 2

All matches are played over two legs.

 

 

League 2 Relegation Play-off

East Stirlingshire finished bottom of League 2, and will participate in the Pyramid Play-offs.

The winners of the Pyramid Play-off will participate in League 2 next season.  If East Stirlingshire lose this play-off, then they will be relegated to the Lowland League.

Lowland League champions Edinburgh City defeated Highland League champions Cove Rangers in the play-off semi-final.

Final: East Stirlingshire v Edinburgh City

This tie will be played over two legs.

Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round Seeding

Aberdeen and St Johnstone will enter the Europa League at the 1st Qualifying Round (QR1), and will be seeded in the QR1 draw.

Inverness will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round (QR2).  Due to the short time period between the rounds, both stages are drawn at the same time, and therefore Aberdeen and St Johnstone will also be in the QR2 draw.

UEFA make the QR2 draw with the assumption that all the seeded sides will win in QR1.  Aberdeen and Inverness will definitely be unseeded in this draw.  St Johnstone could still be seeded, and below I explain what results they need to end up as a seeded club in QR2.

60 of the 66 teams for the QR2 draw have been locked in.  There are 6 spaces still up for grabs.  The top 33 teams will be seeded.  Of the 60 who are already in place, St Johnstone are currently ranked 30th.

St Johnstone will be seeded if at least 3 of the remaining 6 clubs who qualify have a coefficient lower than 6.080.

The spots which are still to be decided are as follows:

Switzerland – 1 spot

Switzerland’s lowest ranked qualifier will enter QR2.  This spot will be decided by the outcome of the Swiss Cup final next Sunday between Basel and Sion.

  • If Basel win the cup, then St Johnstone’s old pals, 5th placed Luzern, will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 9.875.
  • If Sion win the cup, then 4th placed FC Thun will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 10.375.

In other words, whichever of these sides end up in QR2 will be ranked above St Johnstone and will be seeded.

Greece – 1 spot

Greece’s lowest ranked qualifier will enter QR2.  This spot will be decided by the outcome of their European play-off group – whoever finishes 4th (and bottom) in the group will enter this round.  With 2 matches remaining (on Thursday and Monday), three clubs could still qualify:

  • Asteras Tripoli are currently 2nd on 6 points.  Their coefficient is 13.380.
  • PAOK are currently 3rd on 5 points.  Their coefficient is 40.880.
  • Atromitos are currently 4th on 4 points.  Their coefficient is 10.380.

Again, this means that whichever Greek side ends up in QR2 will be seeded above St Johnstone.

Austria – 1 spot

Austria’s lowest ranked side will enter QR2.  This will be decided by the Austrian Cup final on Wednesday between Red Bull Salzburg and Austria Vienna.

  • If Red Bull Salzburg win the cup, then 5th placed Wolfsberger AC will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 5.135.
  • If Austria Vienna win the cup, then 4th placed Sturm Graz will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 9.135.

St Johnstone therefore obviously want Red Bull Salzburg to win the cup, because Saints would be ranked ahead of Wolfsberger AC.

Poland – 3 spots

This is by far the most complex country remaining.  Poland’s top ranked side will enter QR2, while their 2nd and 3rd ranked sides will enter QR1, but will be seeded in QR1 and will therefore also take up a place in the QR2 draw.  That means that Poland still have 3 places in total which affect St Johnstone’s seeding.  These will go to the clubs finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Polish league.

There are 2 matches remaining in the league, which will be played on Wednesday and Saturday.  7 clubs can still qualify for the Europa League:

  • Lech Poznan are currently top of the league with 39 points.  Their coefficient is 17.300.
  • Legia Warsaw are currently 2nd with 38 points.  Their coefficient is 24.800.
  • Jagiellonia Bialystok are currently 3rd with 35 points.  Their coefficient is 5.550.
  • Slask Wroclaw are currently 4th with 29 points.  Their coefficient is 8.800.
  • Lechia Gdansk are currently 5th with 28 points.  Their coefficient is 4.300.
  • Wisla Krakow are currently 6th with 27 points.  Their coefficient is 13.300.
  • Gornik Zabrze are currently 7th with 26 points.  Their coefficient is 4.300.

Lech Poznan, Legia Warsaw and Jagiellonia Bialystok are all guaranteed a spot in Europe for next season.  One of them will win the league and qualify for the Champions League, while the other two will end up in the Europa League.  Therefore at least one of Lech Poznan or Legia Warsaw will be in the Europa League QR2 draw and will be ranked above St Johnstone.

St Johnstone are hoping that Jagiellonia don’t win the league, and that either Lechia Gdansk or Gornik Zabrze finish 4th.

Summary

Three sides are guaranteed to be ranked above St Johnstone – one from Switzerland, one from Greece and one from Poland.  For St Johnstone to be seeded in QR2, they need each of the other three spots to be taken by sides ranked below them.

That means they need the following outcomes:

  • Red Bull Salzburg beat Austria Vienna in the Austrian Cup final.
  • Jagiellonia Bialystok don’t win the Polish league (and therefore finish 2nd or 3rd).
  • Lechia Gdansk or Gornik Zabrze finish 4th in Poland.

Scottish Premiership (23rd-24th May)

Premiership Title

Celtic have already been confirmed as Premiership champions, and will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Champions League.

 

Europa League

The teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd in the Scottish Premiership will qualify for the Europa League, along with the Scottish Cup winners.  If Inverness beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final, then the team finishing in 4th in the Scottish Premiership will also qualify for Europe.

Aberdeen are guaranteed 2nd place, and a spot in the 1st Qualifying Round of next season’s Europa League.  Inverness are guaranteed 3rd place, and a spot in next season’s Europa League – if they win the Scottish Cup they will play in the 2nd Qualifying Round, otherwise they will enter the 1st Qualifying Round.

4th place

The side finishing in 4th place will earn a Europa League spot if Inverness win the Scottish Cup.

St Johnstone will secure 4th if any of the following occur:

  • St Johnstone beat Aberdeen.
  • St Johnstone draw with Aberdeen AND Dundee Utd fail to beat Dundee.
  • St Johnstone lose to Aberdeen AND Dundee Utd lose to Dundee.

Dundee Utd will secure 4th if any of the following occur:

  • Dundee Utd beat Dundee AND St Johnstone fail to beat Aberdeen.
  • Dundee Utd draw with Dundee AND St Johnstone lose to Aberdeen.

 

Premiership Relegation Play-off

Motherwell will finish 11th in the Premiership and will enter the relegation play-offs.

 

Premiership Automatic Relegation

St Mirren will finish 12th in the Premiership and will be relegated to the Championship automatically.

European and Relegation Scenarios (15th-16th May)

Premiership Title

Celtic have already been confirmed as Premiership champions, and will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Champions League.

 

Europa League

The teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd in the Scottish Premiership will qualify for the Europa League, along with the Scottish Cup winners.  If Inverness beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final, then the team finishing in 4th in the Scottish Premiership will also qualify for Europe.

Aberdeen are guaranteed 2nd place, and a spot in the 1st Qualifying Round of next season’s Europa League.  Inverness are guaranteed 3rd place, and a spot in next season’s Europa League – if they win the Scottish Cup they will play in the 2nd Qualifying Round, otherwise they will enter the 1st Qualifying Round.

 

4th place

Dundee Utd or St Johnstone will finish in 4th place, which will earn a European spot if Inverness win the Scottish Cup.  The sides are currently level on points, and so neither team can seal 4th place this weekend.

 

Premiership Relegation Play-off

The team finishing 11th in the Premiership will enter the relegation play-offs.  It is still possible for Kilmarnock, Ross County or Motherwell to finish in this spot.

Kilmarnock will be safe from relegation if:

  • Kilmarnock beat Partick Thistle AND Motherwell fail to beat St Mirren.
  • Kilmarnock draw with Partick Thistle AND Motherwell lose to St Mirren.

Ross County will be safe from relegation if any of the following occur:

  • Ross County beat Hamilton AND Motherwell fail to beat St Mirren.
  • Ross County draw with Hamilton AND Motherwell lose to St Mirren.

Motherwell will be consigned to the relegation play-off if:

  • Motherwell lose to St Mirren AND Kilmarnock avoid defeat against Partick Thistle AND Ross County avoid defeat against Hamilton.
  • Motherwell draw with St Mirren AND Kilmarnock beat Partick Thistle AND Ross County beat Hamilton.

 

Premiership Automatic Relegation

St Mirren will finish 12th in the Premiership and will be relegated to the Championship automatically.

European and Relegation Scenarios (8th-10th May)

Premiership Title

Celtic have already been confirmed as Premiership champions, and will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Champions League.

 

Europa League

The teams finishing in 2nd and 3rd in the Scottish Premiership will qualify for the Europa League, along with the Scottish Cup winners.  If Inverness beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final and have also qualify for Europe via the league, then the team finishing in 4th in the Scottish Premiership will also qualify for Europe.

Aberdeen are guaranteed 2nd place, and a place in the 1st Qualifying Round of next season’s Europa League.

3rd place

It is currently possible that any of Inverness, Dundee Utd or St Johnstone could finish in 3rd and guarantee a place in Europe.

Inverness will secure 3rd spot (and a guaranteed Europa League place) if any of the following occur:

  • Inverness beat Dundee.
  • Inverness draw with Dundee AND Dundee Utd draw with St Johnstone.

Dundee Utd will be out of contention for 3rd place (and a guaranteed Europa League place) if any of the following occur:

  • Dundee Utd lose to St Johnstone.
  • Inverness beat Dundee.
  • Dundee Utd draw with St Johnstone AND Inverness draw with Dundee.

St Johnstone will be out of contention for 3rd place (and a guaranteed Europa League place) if any of the following occur:

  • St Johnstone lose to Dundee Utd
  • Inverness beat Dundee.
  • St Johnstone draw with Dundee Utd AND Inverness draw with Dundee.

 

4th place

It is currently possible that any of Inverness, Dundee Utd, St Johnstone or Dundee could finish in 4th place.  4th place will be a European spot if Inverness finish 3rd and win the Scottish Cup.

Dundee will be out of contention for 4th place (and a chance of a Europa League place) if any of the following occur:

  • Dundee fail to beat Inverness.
  • Dundee Utd beat St Johnstone.
  • St Johnstone beat Dundee Utd.

 

Premiership Relegation Play-off

The team finishing 11th in the Premiership will enter the relegation play-offs.  It is still possible for Kilmarnock, Ross County, Motherwell or St Mirren to finish in this spot.

Kilmarnock will be safe from relegation if:

  • Kilmarnock beat Motherwell.

Ross County will be safe from relegation if any of the following occur:

  • Ross County beat St Mirren AND Motherwell fail to beat Kilmarnock.
  • Ross County draw with St Mirren AND Motherwell lose to Kilmarnock.

Motherwell will be consigned to the relegation play-off if:

  • Motherwell lose to Kilmarnock AND Ross County avoid defeat against St Mirren.

 

Premiership Automatic Relegation

The team finishing 12th in the Premiership will be relegated to the Championship automatically.  Only St Mirren or Motherwell can still finish in this spot.

St Mirren will be relegated if any of the following occur:

  • St Mirren fail to beat Ross County.
  • Motherwell beat Kilmarnock.