The revealing data that shows why the EFL's radical plans for League One would be bad news for Sunderland
The EFL are reportedly considering a mini-tournament involving the top eight teams in League One to decide promotion – and the data suggests that would be bad news for the Black Cats.
According to Sky Sports News, the radical claims have been put forward as one of three potential options as the governing bodies and clubs try to determine how to conclude the 2019/20 season.
Their reported stated: “The EFL's preference remains to finish the season by playing all remaining games over a 56-day period but contingency plans are being discussed in case that plan has to be discarded due to the coronavirus pandemic."
The mini-tournament would see the current top eight in League One – Coventry, Rotherham, Oxford, Portsmouth, Fleetwood, Peterborough, Sunderland and Wycombe – battle it out for a spot in the Championship.
But the performance data from the current campaign suggests that would be bad news for the Black Cats.
For Sunderland have one of the worst records against top eight sides this season – having picked up only three wins against their fellow promotion contenders this season. No other side in the top eight has won less.
Indeed, the Black Cats have picked up an average of 1.16 points per game against teams in the top eight this season – a record which is bettered by five other teams.
Only Wycombe (PPG – 1.00) and Portsmouth (PPG – 1.083) have enjoyed less success.
As shown in the graph above, it’s Fleetwood Town who have the best record against the current top eight this season, having claimed five victories while averaging 1.75 points per game against those in and around the play-off places.
The Cod Army, impressively, have only lost once against the current promotion contenders this season – a record matched by table-topping Coventry City, whose average of 1.63 points against the top eight is the second-best.
So while a mini-tournament could see anything happen, the data from this season thus far suggests that pursuing this approach may not be the most welcome of moves on Wearside – particularly given that, under ordinary circumstances, Sunderland would only have Peterborough and Rotherham of the top eight left to play.