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How many points to stay up?

Monday 22 February 2010 by

Last week the Watford Observer reported that Malky Mackay had said:

“52 points is everyone’s target in the division as it makes you safe. Everyone wants to get to that as quickly as possible and then you see where you go from there.”

It got me thinking… is he correct? In a previous post I looked across the last three seasons and had said 48 points was enough. Now I’m no statto in the traditional football fan sense, but I do love a good statistical analysis to help prove a point. So I’ve gone back over the last 10 season of the Championship/First Division to get the points total for the teams in 22nd place, who were relegated, and the teams in 23rd place who managed to stay up after what was a tense final day of the season.

2008-2009 46 51
2007-2008 52 53
2006-2007 42 49
2005-2006 42 50
2004-2005 50 50
2003-2004 51 51
2002-2003 46 50
2001-2002 49 49
2000-2001 48 49
1999-2000 46 49

Looking at it from the 22nd place numbers, on average you’ll need 48 points to stay up. You’ve needed as little as 43 point in 06-07 and 05-06, but as many as 53 points in 07-08.

It seems that Malky is looking at the 23rd place teams. On average the 23rd place team has gained 51 points. They’ve needed as many as 53 points, but as low as 49 points in 4 out of the last 10 seasons.

So statistically Malky is wrong, but 52 points seems to be a conservative points target to stay up. As of 21st February 2010 – when Watford held 39 points – we only need another 13 points to get Malky’s target. However, for almost total comfort of 54 points we still need 15 points… and 16 games to do it in – easy!

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