Championship Betting Tips

The Championship is the second tier of English football and is hosted by the English Football League (EFL). It’s been about in its current form since 2004, but as the top league as ran by the EFL, has actually been about since 1892, formerly that of Division 2, before then Division 1 following the formation of the Premier League in 1992.

The league is often referred to as the wealthiest non-top flight football division in the world and is actually one of the richest in Europe in its own right, with more money coming in than a lot of the top-tier European leagues.

Who Will Win The Championship?

Last Updated: 5th February 2020
Norwich City Football Club Gates
pittaya, flickr

The race for the EFL Championship title is set to be as thrilling as ever this season. Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion looked nailed for automatic promotion so long ago when they both held double-digit points advantages over third place. But the gap to the chasing pack has closed drastically in recent weeks, with both teams having a major slump in form. Leeds and West Brom are still the strong favourites, but the likes of Brentford, Fulham and Nottingham Forest are not a million miles behind. With just six points separating the top six, the battle to win the title is likely to be really exciting but who will prevail?

Leeds United – 5/6

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds have been title favourites practically all season long. Despite a serious dip in form over the past several weeks, United are still fancied to win the division and book their place in next season’s Premier League. Leeds lost Eddie Nketiah back to Arsenal, but they did manage to bring Jean-Kevin Augustin, Elia Caprile and Ian Carlo Poveda-Ocampo to Elland Road. They did some good business in the window and will hope their new attacking talent can help them score the extra goals they need to really kick on and secure Premier League football in the best possible style.

After a stunning 5-4 win at Birmingham City back in late December, Leeds were cruising, with a huge points advantage over third place and momentum, seemingly, on their side. At the time of writing, however, Fulham are now just three points behind. The Leeds supporters have endured several years of hurt since dropping out of the Premier League, but will this be their year under Bielsa? Many rate them the best side in the second tier but they just don’t score enough goals to justify being odds-on for the title, even though they are worthy favourites.

West Bromwich Albion – 5/2

Slaven Bilic’s West Brom are available at much longer odds of 5/2 to win the Championship title and are just 1/3 for promotion. The Baggies are currently the leaders of the division, swapping places at the top with Leeds a number of times over the past few months. Albion arguably have the strongest squad in the Championship, which could get them over the line at the end of the season.

West Brom are hard to beat at The Hawthorns, though Bilic’s boys have certainly dropped unnecessary points at home. On the road, no side in the second tier have picked up more points than the Baggies. West Brom had a productive January, bringing in Kamil Grosicki, Lee Peltier and Callum Robinson. Will those new signings give them the edge in the race for the title? Outlasting Leeds won’t be easy but at the odds it is hard to argue the Midlanders are not the better value.

Brentford – 7/1

Brentford made a poor start to their season, losing four of their opening seven matches. However, the Bees have gotten better and better as the season has progressed, turning themselves into genuine promotion contenders. After their stunning 5-1 away win over Hull City on February 1st, the Bees moved to within five points of second spot.

Brentford have been terrific at Griffin Park this season, collecting 27 of their 50 points on their own patch. The Bees will be moving into a new stadium soon, and they are certainly a club on the up. Thomas Frank signed Oxford United duo Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu in January, and the Londoners are priced at 7/1 to win the Championship this season. The title may be a tall order, but there’s good value in 8/11 for the Bees to be promoted.

Fulham – 10/1

Despite their drop in form, Leeds and West Brom are still the favourites for the title. However, Fulham have slowly but surely gone about their business in the Championship, closing the gap on the top two with a solid run of results. If any team are to challenge the automatic spots, it could be Fulham, with Leeds boss Bielsa claiming earlier in the campaign that stats showed they were the best team in the division.

The Cottagers kept hold of their top players, adding Jordan Archer and Terence Kongolo to the ranks. After one unsuccessful season in the top flight, Fulham have unfinished business with the Premier League. Their form at home has been excellent, and if they can start picking up wins away from Craven Cottage, Parker’s troops could have a say in the title race. Fulham are priced at 13/8 for promotion and 10/1 to win the division, the latter of which seems big given they are only four points adrift of WBA.

Who Will Be Promoted To The Premier League?

Last Updated: 5th February 2020
Pitch Invasion by Stoke City Fans Following Promotion
TubesSCFC, Wikimedia Commons

The race for the play-offs in the Championship could go to the wire this campaign. Several teams will fancy their chances of making a late dash for the top six in the second half of the season. At present, only 10 points separate Bristol City in sixth to Derby County in 13th. Indeed, only 18 points separates the entire top 16 teams, perhaps not an insurmountable gap with a third of the season to go. Which four clubs will make the play-offs come May and who might get promoted along with whoever wins the title?

Nottingham Forest – 9/2 (1/2 Top 6 Finish)

Sabri Lamouchi had done a fine job at the City Ground so far. Forest recently had a poor run of three losses and two draws from five, but they have got back on track with a great run of results since the turn of the year. The supporters will still be hoping for a top two finish, but the play-offs is the Reds’ most likely destination. Gaetan Bong and Adama Diakhaby arrived in January to bolster the squad, and Forest could be in for a grandstand finish.

Bristol City – 10/1 (7/4 Top 6 Finish)

Bristol City are currently one of the form teams in the Championship but despite charging up the table their relatively weak squad leaves them as 10/1 shots for promotion. Lee Johnson’s side have had a topsy-turvy campaign, but they have never been too far away from the play-offs. The Robins have not finished in the top six of the Championship for over a decade, but that could change this season. Bristol City, who brought in the prolific Nahki Wells in the winter window, are available at 7/4 for a top six finish and that is far from out of the question, despite the huge number of quality sides waiting in the wings.

Preston North End – 12/1 (2/1 Top 6 Finish)

Alex Neil’s Preston North End have the best home record in the Championship at present. North End have been superb at Deepdale, racking up 33 points, but they have mustered up just three away wins. Their form on the road will stop them from reaching the automatic spots, but the Lilywhites have put themselves in a good position for a play-off place (2/1). The signing of Scott Sinclair from Celtic could turn out to be a great bit of business by Neil.

Swansea City – 14/1 (5/2 Top 6 Finish)

Swansea City started the season like a house on fire, sitting at the top of the table during the first international break. They have tailed off since then, but Steve Cooper has made a good impact at the Liberty Stadium since arriving. The captures of young Rhian Brewster, from Liverpool, and Conor Gallagher (Chelsea) has added real quality to the squad. The Swans are priced at 5/2 to finish in the top six and 14/1 to go up, and the Welsh side are definitely worth keeping tabs on.

Millwall – 12/1 (9/4 Top 6 Finish)

When the popular Neil Harris opted to leave The Den early on, Millwall’s season could have gone either way. But persuading Gary Rowett to join has to be one of the best moves of the season in the Championship. Rowett has turned the Lions into serious promotion contenders, and the eye-catching signings of Mason Bennett from Derby County and Ryan Woods from Stoke City will no doubt help their top six ambitions. Their form since Rowett arrived is hard to knock and 12/1 for promotion may well be worth snapping up.

Sheffield Wednesday – 12/1 (5/2 Top 6 Finish)

Sheffield Wednesday have had an up and down kind of season under former Leeds, Swansea and Birmingham boss Garry Monk. On their day, the Owls are capable of beating anyone, but they have suffered 11 defeats already, more than one third of the 30 games played to date. Wednesday, who are top six outsiders at 5/2, signed strikers Connor Wickham and Josh Windass in January. Can the pair make a difference at Hillsborough and bring the goals that might make 12/1 for promotion look like a steal?

Relegation Betting

Last Updated: 5th February 2020
Football Player Conceding Goal

Luton Town, Charlton Athletic and Barnsley – who were promoted from EFL League One last term – all still have plenty of work to do in the race for survival. Luton are currently bottom and are really struggling, Barnsley are 23rd, above the Hatters only on goal difference, and Charlton sit 19th with 16 games to go. The likes of Wigan Athletic, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town are also in danger and the relegation battle looks almost certain to go to the wire.

Luton Town – 1/7

Luton were superb in League One last term, winning the third tier with 94 points and scoring goals for fun. However, they have never really got going in the Championship, as they have suffered 20 defeats from 30 games. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Eunan O’Kane arrived in January, but Graeme Jones’ men look destined for an instant return to League One and are seven points from safety as things stand.

Barnsley – 2/5

Barnsley are another promoted club who have struggled this season. The Tykes have improved under Gerhard Struber, but they have lost each of their last four in league and cup at the time of writing. The bookies have the Yorkshire club as their second favourites for the drop at 2/5 and given they are also seven points from safety that actually looks pretty good value. They have really struggled at Oakwell, with just Huddersfield picking up fewer home points. Barnsley made four January signings, but will that be enough? The next few months could be a real battle for the Tykes.

Wigan Athletic – 6/4

Wigan have shown plenty of fighting spirit of late, winning at Elland Road and beating Sheffield Wednesday at the DW Stadium. Paul Cook’s men did enough to survive last term, and they will need a similar run of results this time around. 6/4 is a good price, but the Latics should have enough to keep themselves afloat.

Charlton Athletic – 2/1

Lee Bowyer’s Charlton made a stunning start to life in the second tier, winning four and drawing two of their opening six. Unfortunately for the London club, only four wins have followed since. The Addicks are currently just four points above the drop zone and very much heading the wrong way Losing the excellent Conor Gallagher was a blow for Bowyer, though David Davis, Andre Green and Aiden McGeady were shrewd January signings. Just how important will Charlton’s penultimate game of the season be against fellow strugglers Wigan?

Huddersfield Town – 8/1

Huddersfield have had a miserable year. The club were relegated from the Premier League after a woeful season in the top flight, and they still have work to do in the race for survival this season. On a more positive note, the Terriers have one of the brightest young managers in the game in Danny Cowley. Town made a number of quality signings in the January transfer window, with the likes of Andy King, Jonas Lossl and Richard Stearman coming in. Huddersfield should be just fine with the Cowley brothers in charge.

Stoke City – 12/1

Since dropping out of the Premier League, Stoke have had a depressing time in the Championship despite initially being tipped to bounce straight back. The Potters spent the first few weeks of the season at the bottom, but Michael O’Neill has done a decent job since arriving at the bet365 Stadium. Still, 12/1 for Stoke to be relegated is a pretty solid price given they are just two points above Wigan.

Championship Top Goalscorer

Last Updated: 5th February 2020
Football in Net

Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Brentford’s Ollie Watkins are leading the Championship scoring charts at the moment. Both players have had fine seasons in front of goal, netting 19 goals each. The pair are three clear of veteran Lewis Grabban and six ahead of Karlan Grant. Who will finish the season as the Championship’s top scorer?

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – 11/10

Fulham’s best bit of business in the summer was keeping Aleksandar Mitrovic at Craven Cottage, as the Serbia international guarantees goals at this level. The 25-year-old is currently the joint top scorer in the division with 19 goals to his name. Mitrovic will no doubt score a bucket load more before the season ends and if he does, his side may just have a chance of overhauling Leeds and West Brom.

Ollie Watkins (Brentford) – 5/4

Thomas Frank deserves an awful lot of credit for Ollie Watkins’ development this season. When Neal Maupay left for Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer, Frank moved Watkins into a more advanced role. The Bees striker has repaid his boss with a staggering 19 goals. Watkins is priced at 5/4 to finish top scorer and that looks well worth considering.

Lewis Grabban (Nottingham Forest) – 12/1

Lewis Grabban seems to be getting better with age. The Nottingham Forest man has always been handy at this level, but 16 goals already is great going by the 32-year-old. With Jarrod Bowen moving to Premier League West Ham United, the Forest No. 7 could be Mitrovic’s and Watkins’ closest challenger. The bookies have Grabban available at 12/1, a huge price.

Karlan Grant (Huddersfield Town) – 33/1

Talking of huge odds, how about Karlan Grant at 33s? Huddersfield have had a poor season up until now, but Grant has been a real bright spark at the John Smith’s Stadium. The young striker has helped himself to 13 goals and four assists. The goals have dried up since the turn of the year, but 33/1 is a very tempting price.

As stated, the league is the highest ranked league that is run by the English Football League following the formation of the Premier League. The Championship was renamed from Division 1 to try and boost the profile of the league and whilst it will always be the second ranked tier of English football, is a vastly competitive league and is often made up of teams that have previously won the top flight and even those that have had success across Europe.

The league has always had a sponsor assigned to in some form since its inauguration in 2004. The initial one was that of Coca Cola, who held a contract from 2004 through to 2010. It then changes hands to that of Npower from 2010 to 2013, before switching again in 2013 to Sky Bet, who have a deal in place to run through to 2019.

The sponsors often have some input on how the league is named as well. Sky Bet initially were refereeing to it as the Sky Bet Football League, but from 2016 changed this to the Sky Bet EFL.

League Structure

The league starts with 24 teams in total and play throughout the course of a season, running from August through to May. As with most league, each team will play each other twice, both home and away, which then cumulates in a total of 46 games for each team, some 8 more than the Premier League teams would play, causing for a fairly congested fixture schedule.

Games are usually played on a Saturday afternoon and Tuesday night, but TV coverage means that games can be played any day of the week, usually taking advantage of the new Friday night coverage on Sky Sports and also Sunday afternoon slots, where Premier League games aren’t taking place.

The games are played out over the course of 90 minutes and teams will be awarded 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for a loss. The rankings within the league go on total points, then goal difference, goals scored and head to head records for the season, where needed.

As the season closes, the top 2 ranked teams in the league will be awarded automatic qualification into the Premier League. The team finishing first will be crowned champions. The next 4 teams in the league, ranked from 3rd through to 6th will go into the play offs at the end of the season.

The play offs will be played out in order of league ranking. So, 3rd will play 6th and 4th will play 5th. The semi-finals are played over two legs, with each team playing once at home and then away. The winner is the team with the best aggregate score. In the event of a tie, away goals will not count and teams will play out extra time and penalties if needed in the second leg.

Play Off Final

The play off final is said to be the richest football match in the world. The reason behind this is that the money that the promoted team will get is worth around £100million in sponsorship money from the Premier League alone.

To put that into perspective, in 2017/18 season Wolves finished top of the league, winning around £8million in prize money from the EFL. West Brom, who finished bottom of the Premier League in the same season received almost £100million, showing a huge gulf in payments. To put that into perceptive, the winners of the Champions League, thought to be the elite European club coemption, take home around £40million in prize money.

The game takes place at Wembley Stadium and is a one-off game. The winners will be promoted to the Premier League and the losers will remain in the Championship for the following season.


Three teams will be relegated from the Championship each year. These are the three lowest ranked teams in the league and with the lowest points. Like promotion, if two or more teams are tied on the same points then goal difference, goal scored and head to head record will come into play.

Transfer Window

Championship teams are only allowed to sign players within a dedicated timeframe each season, known as the transfer window. It’s often an exciting for clubs and fans as it allows them to improve on current squads, the flip side being that they may lose their better players.

What you will often find is that the Premier League teams will come in and lure the better players away from the league, allowing them to play at the pinnacle of English football. A much greater emphasis is placed upon being able to nurture home grown talent, although the money involved with the league still means that hefty transfers fees can be paid. As an example, Wolves smashes the transfer record for a Championship player in 2017 when they signed Ruben Neves for £15.8million.

Other notable championship transfers include Helder Costa to Wolves in 2017 for £12.8million, Ross McCormack to Aston Villa in 2016 for £12million and Matt Ritchie to Newcastle in 2016 for £12million.

The window officially opens in early May, after the completion of the league format. This allows clubs to sign domestic players only. It’s worth noting that any players signed by teams still in the play-off will not be eligible to represent that team until after those games. The window for international players will officially open at the start of June and runs for around 12 weeks.

The window then closes in early August, prior to the start of the season. This has been changed for the 2018/19 season as previously it would close at the end of August, meaning that al transfers need to be done before the start of the first game.

Teams are allowed to still sign loan players up until the 31st August however and are also able to register players who are without a club until the same time. Players may be transferred out to any team who’s window is still open.

Prize Money

The gulf in prize money between the Championship and the Premier League, as already highlighted is substantial. Whilst the Premier League will pay out money based on their final league positions, the Championship actually pay out a flat fee to all clubs.

The fee is split though, based on the ranking prior to the start of the Championship season. This will include a first tier and second tier. First tier teams will be awarded a basic payment of £2.3milllion and a £4.5million solidarity payment, whilst second tier teams are paid £2.084million and £4.3million, respectively.

In the 2017/18 season, the team that won the league – Wolves – and the team that finished bottom of the league – Sunderland – were both initially tier 1 teams, therefore receiving exactly the same amount in prize money, even though they finished some 23 places apart. The numbers are a little skewed as money is awarded every time they appear on live TV, of which Wolves were on more, however as a basic payment, they were the same.

History of the Championship

The Championship has been ever-present in the English football game since 2004. In fact, in its first season under the current naming rights and format, the league was the fourth highest attended league in Europe, behind only that of the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Two of the major scalps were that of Serie A and French Ligue 1.

The numbers are skewed slightly in that the Championship has 24 teams compared with 18 to 20 for the other leagues but given that it’s the second-tier of English football, was still impressive.

Southampton were the first winners of the league under its then new branding and with them, Wigan sealed the other automatic qualifying spot, gaining entry to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history.

In 2007, Leeds United were the first team in the league to go into administration due to overspending and subsequently unable to pay outstanding bills. As a result, they were deducted 10 points, which meant they would be relegated as a result.

The 2016/17 season saw two former powerhouses of English football enter the league in that of Aston Villa and Newcastle United. As a result, the league saw the highest cumulative attendance in their history, with just over 11million, with almost 2million of those coming from both Newcastle and Aston Villa alone.