History paints a sorry picture of Norwich City’s promotion prospects

Bradley Johnson celebrates the first of his two goals in Norwich Citys 6-1 win over Millwall, the Ca

Bradley Johnson celebrates the first of his two goals in Norwich Citys 6-1 win over Millwall, the Canaries' last Boxing Day match in the second tier, in 2014. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Football League stats have emphasised the low probability of Norwich City being promoted this season, as David Freezer assesses ahead of the Canaries' trip to Reading on Boxing Day.


The odds are stacked against Norwich City if they are to earn promotion from their pre-Christmas standing this season – but it has been done before.

Stattos at the Football League have crunched the numbers from the past 20 seasons before heading home to enjoy the festivities with their families, working out the percentage of occasions clubs in each position at Christmas have gone on to fare in the Championship.

The data analysis, for example, has worked out that the team sitting top of the second tier at Christmas has gone on to secure automatic promotion in 80pc of the past 20 campaigns.

Last season Middlesbrough were top on Christmas Day and eventually went up in second place behind Burnley, while in 2015 Bournemouth were top on December 25 and that is where they finished.

Conversely, the bottom two at Christmas have gone on to be relegated 85pc of the time.

It is far from an exact prediction model – Burnley were fifth last season but went on to win the title – yet it provides an intriguing view of what can be learned from past campaigns.

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It paints a particularly telling picture for the Canaries, who are shown to stand a deflating 0pc chance of gaining automatic promotion. A big fat zero.

That was acknowledged by manager Alex Neil and midfielder Jonny Howson following last Friday's damaging 2-1 loss to Huddersfield.

Neil admitted finishing in the top two looks 'highly unlikely' following that seventh defeat in nine league games, which has left his team in 10th place ahead of a trip to high-flying Reading on Boxing Day.

The EFL – to give the Football League its desired acronym – data shows that just 10pc of teams in 10th place when fans are tucking into their turkey go on to claim a play-off berth.

Given the financial importance of the Canaries returning to the Premier League during the first two seasons following relegation, before their parachute payments would end, that is more than alarming.

However, there is precedent for Neil to point to.

His team are four points adrift of the top six at present but Wolves were seven adrift in 10th place in 2014/15 and eventually missed out on sixth place to Ipswich by virtue of just four goals.

As that 10pc figure suggests, just two teams have actually managed that feat: Crystal Palace in 2007/08 from five points adrift and Wolves in 2006/07 from four points behind – both finishing fifth but neither going up.

Norwich have also been in this position before.

In 1996/97, the club's second season following relegation from the Premiership, the team of Mike Walker's second spell were in 10th when the Queen's Speech was broadcast to the nation.

No play-off push emerged once the decorations were packed away though, when a squad containing Bryan Gunn, Rob Newman and Darren Eadie could only manage 13th place amid the club's perilous financial state.

So history is not on Neil's side as he looks to turn the tide at Carrow Road in the second half of the season, with a 90pc probability of a mid-table finish between seventh and 21st place.

On the upside however, the data at least predicts City also have a 0pc likelihood of relegation...

View the full table by clicking here or viewing the Twitter post above.

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