The promotion and relegation fights across the three divisions of the football league are hotting up, and there are a number of clubs who still have a good chance of crowning their season with success. With just five games to go for most teams this season, we’re looking for value in the promotion and relegation markets.
We tipped Norwich to win the Championship way back in November at a massive +1000 and they’ve timed their run to the top of the table to perfection. They now sit just a point behind leaders Bournemouth and have every chance of snatching the title. Another club who are on an impressive end of season run is Wolves, and four straight wins have taken them into 6th position and the final play-off spot. We tipped Wanderers for a top six finish back in December, and they could be poised to go one better and secure a second promotion in two seasons.
Wolves to win the Play-offs
Let’s take a quick look at the odds for promotion this season:
Norwich – -188 with Bet365
Watford – -150 with Skybet
Wolves – +650 with Skybet
The top four sides are all short enough considering that two of them will drop into the play-offs, but there looks to be a little bit of value on Derby and Wolves for promotion. They occupy 5th and 6th places at the moment, both with 71 points, although Brentford and Ipswich are 1 point and 3 points behind and could spoil the party.
Wolves have got the joint best form figures over the last six games with Bournemouth and Norwich (won 4, drawn 2), and as we have seen so many times in the past, momentum is crucial going into the play-offs. Those top four sides of Bournemouth, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Watford, have all been close enough to automatic promotion to feel deflated if they fail to make it, and that can badly affect teams dropping into the play-offs. Derby might also feel that disappointment as they were in the top two for so long, but their loss of form has come at the worst possible time.
Wolves will have no such worries having never really troubled the automatic promotion spots all season. They won League One last season to bounce straight back up after back-to-back relegations from the Premier League and the Championship. They might not have been expected to be doing so well this season, but there is a feel-good factor around the club at the moment, expressed by experienced midfielder Dave Edwards who likened his side to the one which won the Championship in 2008/09. Rather than backing the Molineux side to win promotion, slightly better odds are available for Wolves to win the play-offs, with Skybet offering +700
Sheffield United to be Promoted
It’s a much more clear cut situation in League One, where Bristol City have all but got the title sewn-up and Preston have a strong hold on the second automatic promotion slot. MK Dons, Swindon and Sheffield United are secure in the play-offs barring disasters, and Chesterfield in 6th have a four-point gap over those below them. The odds on Bristol City and Preston to be promoted are so short as to be not worth discussing, but the other sides involved are fairly evenly matched in the betting, and Sheffield United could put their cup expertise to good use in the mini-competition of the play-offs. Here are the latest odds:
MK Dons – +175 with Skybet
Swindon – +275 with Betvictor
Chesterfield – +900 with Betfred
It’s been a tumultuous time for the Blades since relegation from the Premier League, and they dropped to the third tier in 2011. They just missed out on the play-offs last year, finishing 7th, having lost in the play-off semi-final the season before. They lost in the play-off final the year before that, and they are due a change of luck. Nigel Clough has built solid foundations at the club during the 18 months he’s been in charge, and he believes they are ready to step up a league and be competitive in the Championship. He’s taken them to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the League Cup in his short spell in charge, beating several Premier League sides along the way, and he will ask his players to put that big game experience to good use in the play-offs. There’s little to choose between MK Dons, Swindon and Sheffield United, but the Blades can make it third time lucky in the play-offs after their previous two disappointments. The price is the same to win the play-offs or gain promotion, so we’re better off backing promotion as that will cover the play-offs and the unlikely event of Sheffield United rising to the top two.
Port Vale to be Relegated
At the other end of the League One table, Port Vale look to be in real trouble and they stand out at a decent price to suffer the dreaded drop. It’s incredibly tight at the bottom, with 15th place and 23rd place separated by just four points. Yeovil are rooted to the bottom and are as good as down, but the other three relegation places could be taken by any three from nine sides.
Port Vale are on a shocking run of form, having lost 7 of the last 8 matches, and although they currently sit 16th, they are only 2 points above the drop zone. Vale manager Rob Page has recently bemoaned the fact that some of his squad are unable to play two games in quick succession, which was evident as they went down to two defeats over Easter. The fixture list hasn’t been kind to them, and they face three of their last five games in the space of seven days next week. They play MK Dons at home on Saturday, followed by an away trip to fellow strugglers Scunthorpe on Tuesday, then back home again to face Preston on Friday night. It’s not inconceivable that they could lose all three, and they will certainly find it tough to get many points from those games.
To win the Championship play-offs
Wolves – +700 with Skybet
To be Promoted from League One
To be relegated from League One
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