Some titillating early bets for the 2017/18 Football League season

Simon Lillicrap by Simon Lillicrap / 10 May 2017, 12:11

The promotion odds for next season are out early with SkyBet pricing up the markets for the 2017/18 campaign. There are some interesting prices throughout the Football League, so we thought we'd take a look at them and give our views on the best bets!

Championship

The favourites for next year’s Championship title, remarkably, is Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa. They have spent some serious money in previous transfer markets and could do the same putting them in a strong position come August. Relegated sides Middlesbrough and Sunderland are 10/1 and 14/1 respectively to emulate what Newcastle achieved this season.

Wolves under Paul Lambert are one of more surprising contenders at 12/1 alongside Derby and Gary Rowett. They both will spend big in summer to reach the Premier League but both these sides may have to settle for a play-off place.

Without knowing who has lost in the play-offs it is difficult to predict the promotion race, however I would expect all three losers out of Reading, Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham to be challenging again next season. If Huddersfield do not gain promotion then they may have David Wagner stolen from them which could really hurt them given the excellent work he has done.

Norwich are a tasty looking 12/1 as they look to hire a permanent manager. This decision could really affect the price of the odds but Norwich have underachieved this season with the squad and Championship experience they have. They finished the season strongly under Alan Irvine and having released some of their higher paid players such as John Ruddy they could have some financial might in the transfer window. They may not win the title but at 7/2 to gain promotion they look an excellent bet.

Meanwhile, Chris Wilder is 20/1 to do the unthinkable and win a third consecutive league title with Sheffield United. An outside bet is Birmingham City to gain promotion at 7/1. Harry Redknapp has decided to stay for a season and this means he has been given funds to spend in the transfer window and he could revamp and revitalise Birmingham’s squad.

In terms of relegation, Barnsley and Burton are joint favourites at 2/1 with Phil Parkinson’s Bolton at 7/2. The best bet here to go down is Bristol City to go down at 7/1 - this year they have relied on Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham to drag them out of danger and only a strong end of the season took them out of danger.

Best Bet:

  • Norwich to win promotion @ 7/2

League One

Down to League One and Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn are the favourites to bounce straight back to the Championship at 7/1. Mowbray had an excellent squad at Coventry who led the division in 2015-16 in November before crumbling and finishing eighth. I would be wary of that happening again here.

Paul Cook’s newly promoted Pompey are second favourites at 8/1 which seems an incredibly short price for a team that has just come up from League Two. Wigan Athletic are 9/1 but be cautious around backing a recently relegated side, Wigan will lose a few key players and are managerless. Luton boss Nathan Jones is the favourite but he is inexperienced as a first team manager at this level.

Of course, the loser of the Play-Off final to between Millwall and Bradford will be strong next season and I would presume they would come into the betting around 8/1 which would be a good bet. However, this is all speculation until the game is played.

If Bristol Rovers can keep hold of their manager Darrell Clarke then odds of 5/1 for them to gain promotion look tempting. However, he has been linked with various vacancies and if he leaves they could be looking at a bottom half finish.

Rotherham to win the league at 25/1 and gain promotion at 8/1 look like two excellent outside bets. They had an absolute stinker of a season this year in the Championship where they were outclassed and experienced managerial uncertainty off the pitch. With Paul Warne given the job permanently, you can expect a high turnover of players in the summer but this is a side who know what it takes to get out of the division and could surprise a few people.

There are no odds released on relegation for League One and League Two yet.

Best Bet:

  • Bristol Rovers to win promotion @ 5/1

League Two

Another relegated side Swindon lead the betting for League Two at 9/1. They seem to be struggling off the pitch with Luke Williams leaving the club and Paulo Di Canio and even Tim Sherwood linked with the job. The uncertainty around the club makes this is a poor price.

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The same can be said about Coventry at 11/1. There off the field problems and owners’ refusal to invest in the team means they are unlikely to be challenging for promotion. If a takeover does happen this summer (unlikely) then this would change everything and I’m sure the odds would reflect this.

Mansfield are 9/1 and look a decent bet to win the league. Steve Evans has done well since going there, missing out on the play-offs but seems to have a firm grip on the club and squad. Expect them to be up there come May.

As with the Championship, the odds for the sides contesting the play-offs have not been released but I would expect all the unsuccessful sides to be challenging again next season. Paul Tisdale’s Exeter have really turned things around this season and if they fail to win promotion then I fancy them to gain promotion automatically next season.

Crewe Alexandra to gain promotion at 9/2 seems a good price. Although the Railwaymen struggled this season, this was mainly down to manager Steve Davis who had grown stagnated at the club. New manager and former player David Artell has brought some more attacking play to the club which could be a good sign ahead of next season. Given a whole transfer window he could turn Alex into real contenders.

Best Bet:

  • Mansfield to win the league @ 9/1
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