# What if the Premier League had a playoff system? - Part 1

Nov 2nd, 2011 - Posted by in Football

bettingexpert blog editor. Always taking the alternative route to finding the value.

Email : andrew at bettingexpert.com

What if the Premier League had a playoff system? It's unlikely to ever happen, but with the way change comes to modern football so quickly, who's to say? Andrew takes a look at what the first round playoff odds might look like if it ever did occur.

First of all - traditionalists? Yes, I hear you. Don't worry. I'm not advocating a playoff system for the Premier League. So you can all rest easy, go count your tea cups and have a nap.

Everyone else? Let's proceed.

Playing around with my databases and spreadsheets today, I had the thought - what if the Premier League DID have a playoff system? What would be the chances of a team finishing 8th working their way to the final or perhaps even winning it? How much of an advantage would the team finishing on top have over the other playoff clubs?

It's the kind of thought that makes my database wince and my curiosity light up. When it comes to numbers, I'm a sadist.

So today, I give to you the Premier League playoff system scenario super hypotheical. Enjoy.

## The Playoff System

Ok, let's keep it simple. We'll have an 8 team single elimination playoff format with home field advantage for the club that finished higher on the table.

It'll work like this:

First Round

Game 1 : 1st v 8th, Game 2 : 2nd v 7th, Game 3 : 3rd v 6th, Game 4 : 4th v 5th.

Second Round

Semi Final 1 : Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 4, Semi Final 2 : Winner Game 2 v Winner Game 3.

Premier League Final -

Winner Semi Final 1 v Winner Semi Final 2

Ok, that's sorted.

## First Round

Ok, we'll go through each match up and use some real numbers in our hypothetical. In part two that I will post at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season, we will look at real life matchups and consider odds and probabilities for the semi-finals and final. But for today, it's the First Round.

We'll be using results of actual Premier League matches played between clubs in these positions on the table but only in the second half of the season. (Obviously because in the first half of the season, table positions don't tend to always reflect the ability of the club holding that position).

### 1st vs 8th

What upset potential is there in this matchup? Could 8th topple 1st? To answer this we will look at results in matches played January through June over the last 11 seasons, where a 1st placed club was at home to an 8th placed club.

Well for that we only get 3 results. All of which were won by the 1st placed home team and with each home club at match odds to win between 1.30 and 1.40, so roughly an expected win probability of about 74% from the bookmakers.

Ok, so let's broaden it a little. To represent the 1st placed team, we will consider 1st and 2nd placed home clubs and for the 8th placed team, we will consider 7th, 8th and 9th placed away clubs.

When we pit these two brackets at one another we get 31 results, with a win probability for the home clubs of just under 81%, a draw just over 16% and a win to the underdog away club of just over 3%. We also get about 75% of the results, giving match odds for the home clubs between 1.25 and 1.50. So according to the bookmakers, an implied probability for the home club of between 80% and 67%.

Further, the clubs that finished 1st and 8th last season were Manchester United and Fulham. During the season, United were odds of around 1.48 to win at home against Fulham, a match they won 2-0, drawing the match in Fulham, 2-2.

The Result : Given all this information, I'm prepared to offer a probability of 1st defeating 8th in the first round of the Premier League playoffs of 75%, a draw 15% and a win to the away 8th placed team, of 10%.

### 2nd vs 7th

Ok, so let's move to the second matchup. When we consider clubs positioned 2nd against clubs positioned 7th in the second half of the season the last 11 years, again, we only get 3 results. This time with the home club winning twice, with the remaining result a draw. Match odds for the home clubs in all three encounters varied between 1.40 and 1.45, so around a 70% implied probability.

So let's again broaden our analysis and use home clubs positioned 1st, 2nd and 3rd playing away clubs positioned 6th, 7th and 8th. Doing this gives us 43 second half of the season results, with the home club winning just under 70% of the time, a draw almost 26% of the time and the away club winning almost 5% of the time.

We can also see that around 58% of the results had the home club starting at odds between 1.25 and 1.50.

The clubs that finished 2nd and 7th last season, were Chelsea and Everton. Within the season, Chelsea started at odds of around 1.39 to defeat Everton at home, at match they drew 1-1, with Everton winning the return match 1-0.

The Result - Given these numbers I'm prepared to call the 2nd placed club the winner 70% of the time, with a draw at 18% and an away win at 12%.

### 3rd vs 6th

When we look at 3rd vs 6th, and consider 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed clubs at home against 5th, 6th and 7th placed clubs away, we get 51 results. Of these, the home club was victorious just under 61% of the time, a draw just over 31% of the time and the away club winning almost 8% of the time.

Match odds for the home clubs were varied but the average result was around 1.67 or an implied probability of just under 60%.

Manchester City and Liverpool were 3rd and 6th in 2010-2011. When playing in Manchester, City started at odds of around 2.30, very early in the season, a match they would win 3-0, losing the return match in Liverpool 0-3.

The Result - Given these figures we will assume that the 3rd placed club will win around 52% of the time, with a drawn match occurring 26% of the time, and the away club winnng 22%

### 4th vs 5th

So to complete the first round, let's look at the 4th vs 5th matchup.

We will do this by looking at 3rd, 4th, 5th home clubs up against 4th, 5th and 6th placed away clubs in the second half of the season, the last 11 years.

With this we get 41 results, with the home club winning close to 49% of the time, a draw occuring just over 34% of the time and the away club winning a fraction over 17% of the time.

Starting match odds for the home clubs were varied, with the bulk between odds of 1.50 and 2.25. So an implied probability between 67% and 44%.

Rivals Arsenal and Tottenham finished 4th and 5th in the 2010-2011 campaign. When playing at Arsenal last season, the Gunners started at odds of around 1.65, in a match they would lose 3-2, with 3-3 the result in the return match later in the season at Spurs.

The Result - Given these numbers, we'll give the 4th placed club a 45% chance of winning this matchup, a draw a probability of 30% and the away club winning 25% of the time.

## End of the First Round

So this concludes the first round of our hypothetical Premier League Playoffs.

Part Two will be at the end of the season where we can look at actual matchups between the top 8 clubs, look at our First Round hypothetical odds and probabilities and work our way through the semi's and to the final.