The Skybet Championship kicks off on Friday 7th of August with Brighton and Nottingham Forest the two sides to open the campaign in the live TV game. The rest of the division will play over Saturday and Sunday, so now is the perfect time to look at the best bets for the full season.
The arrival at Middlesbrough of Stewart Downing from West Ham and Christian Stuani from Espanyol, signaled the intent of last year’s losing play-off finalists, and they look a worthy bet to secure promotion back to the top flight. Fulham are another side with recent Premier League experience, but its been a downhill struggle over the last few years, and they could be an outside bet to follow in the footsteps of Norwich, Wolves and Wigan, who all suffered relegation to League One in recent years after relegation from the Premier League.
In the scoring markets, ‘Boro’s new Uruguayan striker, who scored 15 goals in La Liga last season for Espanyol, could be a great bet to fire the Riverside club to promotion, supported by the assists of Downing. My esteemed colleague (and one of the best tipsters around) has backed Brentford to win the title, and all eyes will be on the Bees as they follow their much-publicized financial model.
The Big Contenders:
Derby looked certain to be promoted last season after leading the way for such a long time, but they fell away dramatically in the last weeks of the season, and didn’t even make the play offs. They’ve parted company with Steve McClaren who has defected to Newcastle, and employed former Chelsea, PSG, and Real Madrid coach Paul Clement in his first managerial position. Tom Ince and Darren Bent have made permanent moves after being on loan last season, and Andreas Wiemann has been brought in from Aston Villa. If Clement’s appointment proves to be a success, Derby should be there or thereabouts.
Middlesbrough make more appeal for promotion though, as they have a settled manager and squad which has been improved considerably over the summer. Stewart Downing’s form over the last season for West Ham earned him a call-up to the England squad, and he was the leading English player for chances created in the Premier League. He’s dropping down a division to help the club he loves, and should have a huge impact in the Championship. The man to benefit from Downing’s creativity could be Christian Stuani, who also has a fine pedigree with Espanyol in Spain. He looks well worth a punt for top scorer at tasty odds.
It’s tough for a club to pick themselves up and bounce straight back to the Premier League, but as Norwich showed last season, it can be done. They’ve been on a poor run of results for the best part of two seasons, and more talent is likely to go out of the door than will come in through it. They certainly don’t make any appeal from a betting perspective.
A more detailed explanation of why Brentford are a great bet for the title can be found here, and they are still available at a decent price if you want to get involved.
Burnley are another side looking to bounce back, and despite the loss of Danny Ings, they make a bit more appeal than Hull. They were always going to struggle in the Premier League and so it proved, but they’re a decent side at this level and if they can keep most of the squad intact, they have a chance.
Promotion – +500 with BetVictor
QPR have been a crisis club for a few years now, and they are still shedding players on ridiculous contracts from the wage bill. That has hamstrung their transfer efforts in recent years, and they have an unbalanced and mismatched squad. Charlie Austin is probably on his way out, and Chris Ramsey doesn’t strike us as the man to get the most out of his squad. Harry Redknapp had a better squad and only squeezed up through the play-offs with QPR when they were last promoted, which shows how tough the division is.
Promotion – +550 with BetVictor
Fulham on the Brink?
At the other end of the table, Fulham look a big price to be relegated, considering last season was one long relegation battle. Kit Symons wasn’t able to bring about the required improvements last year, and they don’t appear to have added a great deal of depth to their squad. The amount of money swashing around in football these days might have priced Fulham out of the market to a degree, and long gone are the days when they could spend £11 million on a player.
There are plenty of clubs ahead of Fulham in the betting that can be expected to be at the wrong end of the table, including the likes of Rotherham, Charlton and Birmingham, but none of those look much worse than Fulham, yet they’re all much shorter prices.
Teams like Cardiff, Leeds, Reading and the three promoted clubs – Preston, MK Dons and Bristol City – are all similar odds for the drop, but a case can be made for any of them to finish above the lacklustre Fulham side of last season. At the prices, Fulham represent a touch of value to struggle this term.
Fulham to be relegated – +900 with Bet365
Skybet Championship 2015/16:
Middlesbrough to be Promoted – +225 with BetVictor
Christian Stuani – Championship Top Scorer – +2500 with BetVictor
Fulham to be relegated – +900 with Bet365