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Andrea Calo 7th Aug 2008 - 13:28

Championship odds offer no betting tips

The Coca-Cola Championship looks like being a fascinating football league this season – and the betting odds are throwing up no clues as to who will be promoted at the end of it.

Unlike the Premier League, the second tier of English football looks a really competitive contest, and a case could be made for just about any club winning promotion.

That statement comes with a massive caveat. Birmingham City look head and shoulders above the rest, and it is no surprise that William Hill make them their 6/1 favourites to win the Championship.

Alex McLeish’s side have all the firepower and experience required to see off their rivals and, on paper, should get back in the Premier League with games to spare.

The one fact that might deter punters is that no club relegated from the top flight has bounced straight back up since West Bromwich Albion in 2004 – and no relegated club has won the division since Manchester City in 2002.

That statistic might also deter punters from betting on Reading (7/1 second-favourites to win the Championship) and Derby County (a 9/1 chance).

In between those two in the betting lie Queen’s Park Rangers. Some punters seem bemused by the 7/1 offered about QPR to win the Championship; they may have billionaire owners but Fabio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal haven’t exactly spent like Abramovich during the close season, but there’s no doubt that the West London club have Premier League ambitions.

The next eight clubs in the betting – Sheffield United at 10/1, Wolverhampton Wanderers at 11/1, Crystal Palace at 14/1, Ipswich Town at 16s, Norwich City and Charlton Athletic (both 20/1), Nottingham Forest at 25/1 and Watford at 28s – have all played in the Premier League in recent seasons.

Sheffield United and Palace both finished strongly last time round and will be fancied to improve again, while Ipswich will be in with a shout if they can start reproducing their usually strong home form away from Portman Road. Forest will be hoping to continue the momentum of their promotion from League 1, and can’t be ruled out to make the play-offs at least.

Further down the betting coupon come a host of other sides that won’t have much to find to have a chance of going up. Bristol City (28/1) narrowly missed out last season, Coventry City (33/1) will benefit from having Chris Coleman as a manager and Freddie Eastwood up front, while Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday (both 40/1) will see themselves as Premier League clubs in all but name.

Even among the relegation contenders there looks to be some value. Barnsley are offered at 100/1, but their league form last season was heavily affected by their FA Cup run. Beating both Liverpool and Chelsea – a feat equalled only by Manchester United during the whole season – shows they have the potential to mix it with the best.


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