How many points do we really need to avoid the dreaded drop?

Everyone talks about 40 points but West Ham could well stay up with a lot less

While the 40-point mark has traditionally signifi ed safety in the Premier League, West Ham have a long way to go as the season is looking increasingly likely to go down to the wire.

Since the inception of the 20-team Premier League in the 1995-96 season, only four times has a team needed 40 or more points to stay up. The most recent example was in 2011, when 18th placed Birmingham City went down with 39 points and Midlands rivals Wolves stayed up with 40.

The lowest number of points to guarantee survival was 31 points in 2010, as 18th placed Burnley went down with 30 points, and the highest points total to survive would have been 43 in 2003, with, as I’m sure we all remember, 18th placed West Ham relegated with 42 points.

On average, 36.6 has been the number of points required to guarantee survival over the last 22 seasons, but as it stands, reaching this is a possibility for numerous teams.

So where did this myth come from?

Probably from a different Premier League era, two decades ago.

Coventry stayed up in 17th with 41 points, relegating Sunderland in 18th with 40, in 1996-97.

The next season, 1997-98, Bolton went down on goal difference in 18th, while Everton stayed up in 17th – both finishing with 40 points.

Data analysts Gracenote Sports have examined the history of the relegation fight to find out who we can expect to be in the bottom three come the end of the season.

They say that taking averages over five-year periods, the points needed for Premier League survival has dropped from 37 in 1996-2000, to 35 points now

And what about this year’s relegation scrap? On February 14, Gracenote had 11 teams in the relegation battle and calculated the chance of each team being relegated.

That was from Bournemouth in 10th, down to bottom side West Brom, while the rest of the Premier League’s top nine sides all said to have a less than 1 per cent chance of going down.

Already this season, eight Premier League teams – including us – have changed manager – Watford, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Stoke, Swansea, and West Brom. Gracenote

Already this season, eight Premier League teams – including us – have changed manager – Watford, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Stoke, Swansea, and West Brom.

Gracenote uses its ‘Euro Club Index’ ranking of top-fl ight clubs and then runs season simulations one million times to estimate the chance of each team being relegated.

So how many points will be needed? Using this formula, Gracenote says 38 points ‘is more likely than not’ to be enough, giving a 62 per cent chance of staying up, but anything below that and it is a less than 50 per cent chance.

‘At this stage, it is certain that 40 points will be enough to stay up and that a team getting 34 points will be relegated,’ says Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports.

So where does this leave West Ham? Well, according to Gracenote, we will finish 12th and had a six per cent chance of being relegated.

But, as we all know, nothing can be taken for granted as meetings with the bottom 10 clubs are quickly becoming more important than any other fixtures.

It’s make or break time as picking up points against other teams in the bottom half of the league will increase our chances of survival and establish a gap between us and the relegation zone.

Can we do it? I think we can!

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