SFL Promotion and Relegation – How many points?


In a couple of my earlier blogs, I investigated the points tallies required to stay in the SPL, and to gain promotion from the 1st Division.  This post will be a quick summary of what is needed for promotion/relegation between the SFL divisions, as well as entry into the SFL play-offs.

The promotion analysis will cover the seasons since 2005/06, when the SFL play-offs were introduced, and the number of automatic promotion spot reduced from two to one.  The number of “unsafe” positions at the bottom of the league didn’t change when the play-offs came in, but the dynamic of the relegation battle did – previously if two teams were cut adrift they would have nothing to play for, but now they have the incentive of at least making the play-off place and giving themselves a chance.  For this reason, the relegation analysis will also be limited to the period starting 05/06.

Again, we are faced with the question of which points total to use, and have applied the same methods as in the previous blogs, plotting a solid block between the “suceeding” and “failing” team.  The gallery above shows the graphs for each of the divisions of the SFL, and clicking on it allows you to scroll through them all.

These graphs are discussed below.  Remember that any of the  targets are purely a guide based on previous seasons, and should not be taken too seriously, particularly given the small sample size of 6 seasons.


SFL1 Relegation

Over the period in question, no team has ever finished bottom with 40 or more points.  This would appear to be a reasonable tally to aim for to ensure a place in the play-offs at the very least.  Only once has a team earning less than 30 points avoided automatic relegation (Stranraer in  05/06), so this should be the absolute minimum target for a team in the SFL1.

The highest points tally which has seen a team still have to face a play-0ff was 42, set by Airdrie United in 2008/09.  Exceeding this total would appear to be a good target in avoiding a play-off spot.  A team earning less than 37 points has only avoided the play-offs once (Queen of the South in 05/06),  so again this should perhaps be considered the minimum target to give yourself a chance of avoiding the play-offs.


SFL2 Promotion

The highest points total which has seen a team miss out on top spot was the 74 achieved by Ayr in 2008/09.  This suggests a target of 75 points would be a reasonable target to aim for to secure promotion.  Over this period, no team has been promoted from SFL2 with a points tally under 65.  Stirling Albion were promoted with exactly 65 points in 09/10, and on that occasion the runners-up, Alloa, finished level on points with them.  It would appear that 65 points should be the absolute minimum target to give your team a chance.


SFL2 Play-offs

55 appears to be the magic points total which team should target to give themselves a very good chance of the play-offs.  Only once has a team earning less than 55 points reached the play-offs – Brechin in 09/10.  Conversely, only once has a team who earned 55 points failed to make the play-offs – Peterhead in 07/08.


SFL2 Relegation

The target for avoiding relegation from SFL2 seems to be a lot lower than that in SFL1, perhaps indicating a drop-off in standards towards the middle and bottom of the 3rd tier.  Only once has a team who earned over 30 points finished bottom – Clyde in 09/10.  That season also represented the only time that a team who earned 40 points (Arbroath) finished in the play-off spot.  No team who earned under 30 points has ever avoided bottom spot, and Stenhousemuir last season were the first side to avoid the play-offs with under 40 points.

This season’s table, however, acts as a reminder that points totals previous seasons should only be considered as guides.  Bottom side Albion Rovers sit on 26 points with 7 matches still to play, so it seems very unlikely that the 10th placed side will have under 30 points this season.


SFL3 Promotion

No side with 65 points or fewer has won the title in this period.  That could be considered as a minimum target.  In 2005/06, Berwick Rangers missed out on the title on goal difference despite picking up 76 points.  In every other season, clubs earning over 70 points have been promoted.


SFL3 Play-offs

The lack of relegation at the bottom of the 3rd Division can often lead to the table being quite strung out, particularly in seasons with obvious “whipping boys”.  As a result, the points totals of teams reaching the play-offs are more volatile than those in the 2nd Division.  No team with over 60 points has ever missed out on the play-offs, and no team with under 50 has ever reached them.

About SPLstats
Providing statistics and trivia about Scottish football. Main focus is the SPL, but all Scottish football will be covered. Not affiliated to the SPL.

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