Date: 18th March 2010 at 10:49am
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As with anyone in the bottom third of the division at this stage of the season, the Silkmen are still looking over their shoulders at the bottom two.

But what is the real likelihood of the Silkmen dropping into the Conference next season?

The bookies don`t seem to think there is much of a chance with the Silkmen`s relegation listed at 28/1 (Possibly worth sticking a tenner on and getting a free season ticket should the worst happen?) but how does it actually look?

How many points do you need? Since the division changed to the new ‘two-up-two-down` system, 50 points has been the ‘magic` target, but only once has it actually been that high. You can look back to the first season the Silkmen were in the football League and it has never quite reached the 50 point mark, and three times the final figure has been below our current total of 39. (Although one was due to Boston`s 10 point deduction)

2003, the first season with two clubs facing the drop, saw you needing 49 points to remain in the division and the following year 45 would have been enough as long as you had a better goal difference than -23. The highest required total came in 2006 as Oxford went with 49 points and a respectable goal difference. The following year was a mere 36, (Thanks to Boston`s deduction.)

In 2005, the Silkmen would already have been safe with the 39 points they have already accrued whilst last season even without the deductions, 42 points would have kept a club above both Chester and Grimsby.

Grimsby, the team currently second from bottom have 10 games remaining. Let`s look at some of the higher points total seasons.

In 2003 when 49 points were needed for survival, the team second from bottom (Exeter, who also eventually went down) had 34 points. A six point head-start on Grimsby this season.

2006, the only time 50 points has been required, Rushden and Diamonds inhabited the upper relegation slot with 10 games left, and also had 34. (Oxford who finished the season there, had 40)

2004 when 45 was enough the Silkmen found themselves second from bottom with 10 games remaining but already had 39 points in the bag. Carlisle finished the season in that position and had 31.

Meanwhile, in 2004/5, when the Silkmen would already have enough points with 39, Kidderminster were in that position with 29, just one more than Grimsby`s current total. Last season Chester had 26 and finished the season on 37 whilst Grimsby, who would have gone without the points deductions, had the same number, finishing the season on just 41.

What this tells us is that the old theory that clubs near the bottom often go on a run to pull themselves well clear doesn`t seem to happen, or if it does, someone else in or around the bottom two doesn`t and ends up stuck there.

It seems a simple assumption, but one that stands up to simple checking, that the seasons where the ‘magical 50 mark` is actually required have seen clubs on far higher totals at this point in the season.

History suggests that 42-45 will be enough this season, a fact that holds up to the current League table.

Assuming Darlington are already unable to catch Macc (Needing eight wins from 13 games just to catch our current total). Grimsby already need to improve on their past 10 matches (which have gained 10 points).

Two more wins for the Silkmen, to take them to 45 points would need Grimsby requiring 18 points, or six wins, from the remaining 10 matches, an unlikely feat for a club with only four wins to their name all season.

With results going the right way, the Silkmen could be mathematically safe in less than a month, thanks in part to Grimsby`s tough run of upcoming matches.

Grimsby face Bournemouth, Rochdale, Northampton and Accrington in the next four, which are all against promotion chasing clubs in good form.

In the same time frame, the Silkmen would need seven points, two wins and a draw from matches against Dagenham, Rotherham, Cheltenham, Aldershot and Bradford. Certainly not a ‘given` but far from impossible, and putting the Silkmen safe on 5th April.