League 2: Can anyone topple the spirites?
The season is up and running now for most sides following the opening fixtures for the Capital One cup and all attention now turns to League matters. We will have a over 100 football markets for each league 2 game (the opening day can be found here) as well as preseason football prices on a range of outright markets.
League 2 sees some of closely matched football in the pyramid but there's 2 teams that stand out this season - Rotherham and Fleetwood. The Millers are back in Rotherham following their Don Valley stay and the big spending side are 7/2 favourites to win the league and 4/6 for promotion. Fleetwood are another with a big budget for this level as shown by their flirting with the potential signing of Joey Barton. They are aiming to copy Crawley in securing back-to-back promotions and are 9/2 for the title and 6/5 to go up and despite both sides having spent well they offer the better value. However I am over looking both of them in favour of Chesterfield. The Spirites have managed to keep the bulk of last season's League 1 side together and have added well with the signings of Marc Richards (14/1 top scorer) and Sam Togwell catching the eye. They know how to get out of this division and are the pick at 10/1 for the league and 9/4 for promotion
There's not much to separate the chasing pack behind them and there should be a mass scramble for playoff places. A good run could and should catapult any team into the mix but the main protagonists look to be Bristol Rovers, Oxford, Southend, Gillingham, Torquay and Wycombe in my opinion. Bristol Rovers are 3/1 for promotion and look the most likely to crack the top 3 but I think a playoff spot is the best they can reach. Last season saw plenty of upheaval on the playing and managerial side and a settled Rovers side will be a match for anyone on their day. The other one of these to seriously threaten the top could be Southend after they sealed the return of goal machine Freddy Eastwood (12/1 top scorer) on a two year deal. He has helped them out of the division once before and they are 7/2 to go up this season.
The next group all look like they will be spending the season in mid-table. Bradford, Cheltenham and Northampton will be disappointed to be so while Aldershot, Exeter, Plymouth, York, Rochdale and Burton will be happier with a mid-table spot while Port Vale are just happy to be playing football at all! Bradford are 5/1 to go up and are one of the biggest clubs in this division but always fall short despite their promise and big crowds, Cheltenham have been building for several seasons and are getting closer but they should fall short of their ambition. Newcomers in this league have a history of doing well in their first season and York look a decent bet on the handicap league - 18/1 with a 20 point head start. Another good bet looks to be Burton Albion on the handicap with +30 to begin, if they can hold on to Billy Kee, a real candidate to top the scoring charts at 12/1, amid strong interest from bigger clubs they will be more than safe. The last club to get a mention here is Port Vale who have been in turmoil since the enf of last season and begin the season without an owner and still in administration. They have assembled a decent squad on paper and with some off field security they could be the ones to bridge the gap to the playoffs, however just lining up is somewhat of a victory.
This leaves us with five clubs and two of these should be heading out of the league. The most obvious of these is Barnet who are 9/4 for relegation and have picked up final day wins to avoid relegation the previous two seasons, their run of luck is due to end. The other club to join them looks to be from Dagenham (9/2), Morecambe (4/1), Wimbledon (11/2) and Accrington (9/2). My pick of these would be the Dag and Red. The Daggers struggled through last season only stopping up after reaching the 50 point barrier on the final day and the other teams in their predicament appear to have strengthened better.