Patience has never been my virtue. I’m more of an “instant gratification” guy. Which is why, within hours of Ross County picking up its first SPL point this weekend I was already wondering how many more points they were going to need to remain in the SPL for the 2013-2014 season. It is important that County avoid relegation at the end of this season for all of the reasons you might imagine, but there is also one more, very important reason: the 2013-2014 season is the next time I’m going to get a chance to see them play in person! With this very important fact in mind I sat down and ran some numbers. I started with the number of points it has taken to avoid relegation in each season of the Scottish Premier League.
Those numbers look like this:
These numbers are fairly straight forward- with two exceptions. The point totals for the 2001-2002 season were inflated by St. Johnstone F.C. earning only 21 points, and more importantly, finishing 19 points adrift of second worst Motherwell F.C.. In the 2007-2008 season point totals were again inflated by the farce that was Grenta F.C.- they were only able to earn 13 points, finishing 27 points behind 11th place Kilmarnock F.C.. So, what does this mean for Ross County.
First, a 41 point performance by Ross County this season would all but guarantee staying in the Scottish Premier League at the end of the current season- no team has ever been relegated with that many points. However, given that both of these 40 point totals were already anomalies and that there were unique circumstances behind each, they should probably be set aside for our purposes here and we should focus on a more realistic number. Sure, there’s always a chance that another club could have a disaster of a season like Gretna and Kilmarnock did, but it is not likely. That being said, if Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C. want to be the club to skew the numbers by having a terrible season, that’s fine by me!
Second, at the other end we have the 32 point performance of Dundee United F.C. in 2002-2003. United were only safe because Motherwell were even worse that year (28 points- though they were not relegated) and because the Old Firm each earned 94 points (34 more than third place Heart of Midlothian F.C.) causing the rest of the table to be relatively “bunched up” between 28 and 60 points. Thus, while it probably won’t be necessary for Ross County to more than 40 points for the reasons I outlined above, 32 points won’t be enough. It could be, but it has only happened once and I don’t like the odds of it happening again this year or any other year.
With three seasons now “set aside” we are left with 11 remaining seasons and those seasons bring the picture into much better focus- during those seasons the point total of the lowest club not to get relegated fell between 33 and 37 points, and more significantly, during seven of those seasons the point total was either 33 or 34. It appears therefore, that only a single point (or two) more than the lowest ever total to survive could be enough to ensure Ross County’s survival this season. Based on history, 34 points would have been enough in more than half of all SPL seasons today. And yet, neither 34 is not the number either.
The number, dear readers, is 37. Not only has every club to earn 37 points remained in the top flight- except for on the two occasions that I detailed above- but even when those two seasons are included, the average number of points for the lowest surviving clubs in the history of the SPL has been 37 points- 37.21 if you want to be exact. Having arrived at this number there is only one conclusion that can be drawn…
…36 to go!!