How do promotion teams of the past match up to Pompey?

Published: 20/11/2023

Portsmouth’s hunt for promotion at the seventh time of asking has got off to almost the perfect start this season. 16 games in, John Mousinho’s side sit atop the League One table, undefeated and with 36 points accrued.

It got us thinking here at The 1898, how does that compare to teams in years gone by that have gone on to accomplish the goal that has so frustratingly eluded us in PO4?

Well, it’s a slow day, so we went and did the research. We decided not to include the two seasons that were most impacted by COVID 19, so here we go:


As Pompey were busy winning the League Two title in the most dramatic of fashions, League One was having it’s own incredible season. But where were Sheffield United, Bolton and Millwall at roughly the same time?

2nd. Bolton Wanderers. P16 – 31 points.

4th. Sheffield United. P15 – 28 points. (Champions)

13th. Millwall. P15 – 21 points. (promoted via play-offs)

Scunthorpe were top of League One after 16 games with 34 points. They finished third and were knocked out in the play-off semi-final by eventual winners Millwall. 



Pompey’s first season back in League One saw the Blues finish in 8th place, just 5 points outside the play-offs. After 16 games, Kenny Jackett’s side were in 14th with just 20 points, whilst the promotion trio were:

2nd. Wigan Athletic. P16 – 36 points (Champions)

6th. Blackburn Rovers. P15 – 25 points

7th. Rotherham United. P16 – 25 points (promoted via play-offs)

Shrewsbury Town topped the table after 16 games with 37 points, the only team to have more points than Portsmouth at this stage of the season. Shrewsbury finished 3rd and were beaten at Wembley by Rotherham United 2-1.


This one hurts. 

4th. Barnsley. P15 – 28 points.

5th. Luton Town. P16 – 28 points. (Champions)

13th. Charlton Athletic. P15 – 22 points (promoted via play-offs).

Portsmouth were, as we all know, top of the table after 16 games and had 35 points. Peterborough United and Sunderland were also above the eventual promotion winners at this point, with 33 and 32 points respectively. Well, we’ll always have Wembley. Here’s a terrible photo I took that day.

As mentioned, we’re ignoring the two COVID seasons. So 2019/2020 & 2020/2021 have been emitted. 


A season that saw Portsmouth finish 10th, and after 16 games it was even worse with the Blues down in 13th.

1st. Wigan Athletic. P16 – 34 points (Champions)

3rd. Rotherham United. P16 – 31 points.

5th. Sunderland. P15 – 28 points (promoted via play-offs)

Don’t really think this season needs any more coverage does it? 


Last season was one of the most obvious promotion 3, even at this early stage of the season: 

1st. Plymouth Argyle. P16 – 38 points (Champions) 

2nd. Ipswich. P16 – 36 points. 

3rd. Sheffield Wednesday. P15 – 30 points. (promoted via play-offs)

What more do you say really? Pompey missed out on the Play-Offs again, but John Mousinho and Richard Hughes arrived and started building! 

In summary, only one team has only ever had more points than Portsmouth after 16 games and not been promoted, with Shrewsbury not going up with 37 points in 17/18. Also worth mentioning, only 2 teams have had more points at this stage of the season full stop. Shrewsbury and Plymouth Argyle last season. Wigan matched our points total in 2017/2018 and went on to win the league. No team researched was unbeaten after 16 games, either. 

Of course it is still far too early to say for sure what the promotion picture will look like (see 2018/2019), but it’s fair to say that this has been a phenomenal start to the season. And, the stats would show, Pompey should be promoted.