About Paul Jackson

Paul has worked at DecTech since January 2011. He has a PhD in High Energy Physics and developed equity risk models for a multi-national financial services firm before joining DecTech. He's been a Crystal Palace supporter for over thirty years.

The Premier League; is Upside Down….

As a Crystal Palace fan, there’s been many an opportunity to sing this chant about how “We should be top, instead of bottom”. Today it’s more a case of “The Premier League, is randomly ordered”. Perhaps not so catchy but it appears to be true.

If we look at correlation of the ranks of the league table after all teams had played one game against the table at the end of last season we find the correlation is just 24% if we include promoted teams (ranked 18-20 last season based on Championship finishing position) or 34% if the promoted teams are excluded. Continue reading

Last Minute Fantasy Premier League Help

It’s not just a new season, it’s a new Fantasy Premier League season. I thought I’d take a slightly different look at Jin Chen’s work from last year in an attempt to improve my ranking in the Dectech office league (an acceptable 6th out of 16 runners).

Here I will look at choice of defenders. In the official Premier Lerague game, defenders score points primarily from appearances (1pt for less than 60 minutes on the pitch, 2pts for more than 60 minutes) and by recording clean sheets (4pts). They lose one point for every second goal they concede. Continue reading

Africa Cup of Nations: Predictions Ahead of the Final Group Games

A further update of my previous pieces previewing the Africa Cup of Nations and looking at the impact of the first matches.

Group A

Senegal are definitely out and Co-Host Equatorial Guinea are through. This leaves Zambia and Libya, although Libya need to beat Senegal and hope Zambia lose with a net movement in goal difference of at least three in their favour. We make the chance of that happening just 2.8%! If Zambia win they will win the group, which given the Ivory Coast will probably meet the runners up of this group, will be a prize worth fighting for.

Group B

Ivory Coast qualify for the second round comfortably and have eliminated Burkina FasoSudan must beat Burkina Faso and hope the Ivory Coast defeat Angola (again a net movement in goal difference of three is also required), identical to the situation in Group A. The chance in this instance is 8%. If Angola beat the Ivory Coast they will win the group.

Group C

Qualification is decided in this group with Gabon and Tunisia through, although they will battle to win the group. Morocco and Niger are playing for the wooden spoon of the group.

Group D

Still everything to play for in this group, unless you’re Botswana who are eliminated. Ghana are almost certain qualify (99.9%) but haven’t secured the group win. Guinea and Mali both have three points, but are seperated by large gap in goal difference (+4 to -1 respectively). However Mali are favourites to qualify as they take on Botswana while Guinea have to play the strongest team in the group. Guinea will be hoping Ghana rest players.


In terms of the overall competition, we now see the following chances of progression for the teams who can still make it to the knockout phase. As you’d expect the Ivory Coast continue to look strong favourites for the title

Latest Africa Cup of Nations Knockout Percentages


Preview: Africa Cup of Nations 2012

Most fans of Premier League clubs will be aware of the upcoming 28th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations primarily due to the star players who will be leaving their clubs for up to five games. The Fink Tank (£) on Saturday focused on the impact of these players leaving, but in this piece we’ll look at who is likely to win the competition.

Although players left for training camps a couple of weeks ago, the tournament kicks off on Saturday. Co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the competition is missing many of the strongest teams in Africa. Cameroon (ranked 3rd in Africa by Dectech), Egypt  (6th and defending champions), Nigeria (4th), and South Africa (7th) all failed to qualify. Sadly South Africa’s players ended the qualifying tournament under the misapprehension that they had qualified after their coach failed to properly understand the rules in the case of a three-way tie-break. At least they qualify as hosts for the 2013 edition. Continue reading

El Clasico Leverage

Despite conceeding the fastest goal in an El Clasico, Barcelona still triumphed 3-1 on Saturday. This drew them level with Real Madrid on points and ahead on the head-to-head rule.

But how important was this single match in terms of the chance of being top at the end of the season? To investigate I used the DecTech team strength model to simulate four scenarios: the chances each team had of winning the league before a ball was kicked on Saturday, plus the probabilities of taking the title after the Barca win, if the match had been a draw, and if Madrid had won instead.

This “six pointer” of a match is particularly interesting because Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the league so thoroughly. At the end of August our model predicted one of these clubs would win the league with a chance of 99.5%. After this weekend’s games that figure is now in excess of 99.9%. The match’s importance is enhanced by the head-to-head rule which ranks teams on their record against each other if there is a tie on points, unlike the Premier League, which uses goal difference against all other clubs in the league. Continue reading

What if the Champions League Really Was a League?

With the second week of fixtures in the Group Stages of the Champions League about to begin, we thought it would be interesting to look at how the structure of the competition affects the percentage chance each team has of winning the competition. What if the Champions League really was an, admittedly large, league of 32 teams?

Is the current format, including draws which are seeded and which force teams from the same nation to avoid each other until the Quarter-Finals a disadvantage for the smaller teams? Is this disadvantage more than offset by the nature of a knock-out competition allowing lesser teams to progress off the back of a couple of lucky performances?

Continue reading

On Tour: Italy, Serie A

Dectech continue their tour of leagues outside of England. After La Liga, last week, this week we look at another league which has had a delayed kick-off due to strike action, Serie A.

Last season AC Milan ended as champions, winning their first Scudetto since the 2003/2004 season, and breaking Inter’s five-year hold at the top of the league.

Continue reading

On Tour: Spain, La Liga

This is the first in a regular column looking at Decision Technology’s predictions for the coming season in leagues outside of England.

Last season was dominated by the undignified battles between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and although Madrid won the Copa Del Ray, Barcelona came out on top by winning the league and securing their fourth crown as champions of Europe. Continue reading