Today we hear from Roger Titford – STAR Board member
Romance knocked out of the Cups
Bournemouth beat Crawley on Tuesday night to take the final place in the last 16 of the FA Cup. The 5th Round draw features 13 Premier League sides plus just three outsiders: Barnsley, Bournemouth and Bristol City. Of the seven PL clubs out already, five were knocked out by other PL rivals and only Leeds (to Crawley) and West Brom (to Blackpool) succumbed to lower league opposition. To my mind, that’s a pretty dull mix to take us through the next four rounds.
In the League Cup this season it was a similar pattern. Of the last 16 left in only Stoke, Brentford and Newport came from outside the top division and the final will be contested by two of the “big six” again. Credit to Brentford for making the semi-final though and a shame it was both a one leg away tie and behind closed doors.
Concentrating on the league
The financial gap between the Premier League and the rest now distorts priorities in the whole football schedule, particularly in the Championship. One point gained here that ultimately makes the difference between automatic promotion and losing in the play-offs is allegedly worth north of £200 million, if you count in the guaranteed parachute payments! Four of our five main rivals in the Championship in 2020-21 have enjoyed the benefit of recent parachute payments. But Leeds and Sheffield United have both shown in the last two seasons that the disadvantage of no parachute money can be overcome by good teamwork and sound management.
At the halfway mark (23 games) Reading had 40 points. If we maintain that form (80 points) we should be very confident of reaching the play-offs but we’ll very probably need to improve to make automatic promotion. Four points out of six (and so nearly six) is a decent start to the second half and three more tonight would be tremendous news.
Looking over the points totals and positions for the past 24 years (the duration of the current system) shows that the average number of points to beat third place by one point (and thus get automatic promotion) is 84 and the average to beat seventh place by a point (and get in the play-offs) is 73.
The average points gained by the second placed club is 87. The highest total achieved by a club failing to go up automatically is 90 and the lowest by a club going up automatically is just 79. The lowest points total to make the play-offs is 68 and the highest not to make it is 78. So, there’s no guarantees but 74 points has been enough in two out of every three seasons to make the play-offs.