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  • Chris Sobey


The EFL gets underway this weekend with a full set of Championship, League One and Two fixtures across the board. I won’t provide any match analysis but I’ll provide you with my thoughts on a few season long Ante Post bets from the Championship and League One. Midlands clubs Wolves and Aston Villa have both been spending big and been making radical changes during the summer with new managers Nuno and Bruce and plenty of quality and experienced players, most notably John Terry joining Villa.

Both clubs will be popular in the winning and promotion related betting markets however, big changes and throwing money at a problem does not always deliver immediate results and with the Championship more competitive now than ever i’m not sure either team will be challenging for automatic promotion come the end of the season.

Relegated Premier League teams that are proven performers in the Championship sometimes bounce back like Newcastle United, Burnley and Hull over the last few seasons and this season’s trio of Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are all capable of achieving this, but it’s unlikely they will all be challenging come the end of the season. Of the three Middlesbrough look the best equipped to mount a serious promotion challenge while Hull and Sunderland will do well to consolidate and finish in the top half or play offs at best this season I imagine.

For betting purposes this season I like Reading who bounced back to form under the stewardship of Jaap Stam last season finishing third, and they agonisingly missed out on promotion via the play offs losing on penalties against Huddersfield. Losing in such circumstances will have been hard for the Royals to bear at the time however, I am sure manager Stam will have his team more than ready and prepared for an assault on winning this year’s Championship, and at odds of 50/1 (1/4 3 places), they look over-priced as in theory they should improve on that performance this season.

Harry Redknapp has taken over at Birmingham City and his pedigree and vast experience is sure to bring around a quick and significant turn-around in fortunes at St Andrews this season. Birmingham can be backed at odds against to Finish in the Top Half this season and with Redknapp at the helm I expect them to achieve this. Finally, Norwich along with Newcastle United and Fulham were the top scoring Championship teams last season with 85 goals each. Fulham are priced up as 4/1 favourites to follow that up this season, while Norwich, who have kept top scorers Jerome and Oliveira are priced up at 10/1 and they represent better value to me.

League One promotion betting is headed by the Championship relegated teams of Blackburn and Wigan and not surprisingly Rotherham are given little chance of bouncing straight back. Of the two possibly Wigan will bounce back and mount a promotion challenge, but at the prices I’m not interested in either, as in my view they are now amongst them teams who are moving further and further away from top-flight football and their past glory days. Surprisingly, League Two winners Portsmouth are third favourites however, Plymouth and Doncaster, who were also automatically promoted do not feature in the promotion betting.

It’s a surprise that last season’s third place team Scunthorpe (20/1 ¼ odds 3 places), who just missed out on promotion, are not being respected in the League Winners betting as they were so impressive for the most part of last season. The club have stayed loyal with manager Alexander, which is a good move, as he’s bound to have learned from and gained plenty of experience from going so close last season and if he can build on that success there’s no reason why the Iron won’t be vying for promotion again come the end of the season.

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