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: 10th July 2019
Norwich City Football Club Gates
pittaya, flickr

With the 2019-20 EFL Championship season just around the corner, let’s check out the main contenders and the latest betting odds. Having slipped late in the campaign to miss out on automatic promotion before losing in the play-off semi-finals last term, Leeds United will be desperate to finally get over the line this season. Marcelo Bielsa’s boys are the pre-season title favourites but can they finally get back to the promised land of the Premier League after 15 seasons away?

There are several huge clubs in this division this year, as there seems to be every year these days, with the majority having Premier League experience. How will Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town get on after being relegated from the top flight? Meanwhile, Luton Town, Barnsley and Charlton Athletic were the three promoted sides from EFL League One last term. Sheffield United and other clubs before them have shown that the jump from League One to the Premier League can be covered quickly but survival will be the top priority for them. Check out our in-depth Championship betting preview below.

Leeds United – 6/1

Leeds spent most of last season battling Norwich City and Sheffield United right at the very top of the table. Unfortunately for them, United capitulated in the last few weeks, having to settle for a place in the play-offs after finishing third. The Whites led Derby County 2-0 on aggregate at one point in the second leg of their play-off semi-final, but disaster struck at Elland Road, with the Rams going on to win 4-3 and make play-off history by overturning a first leg home defeat.

In Bielsa, Leeds have one of the most experienced and talented managers in the second tier. The Yorkshire club will dust themselves down and go again, with the bookies making them favourites to win the league at 5/1. Helder Costa has arrived from Wolverhampton Wanderers, while the club have also brought in Barcelona youngster Rafa Mujica. Expect Leeds to be fighting at the top again this season but having lost Pontus Jansson they look a little short at the back right now. Much may depend on the signings they make in the weeks ahead but Bielsa has shown a lot of faith in the club’s youth system so the fans may be disappointed if they expect too much.

Fulham – 7/1

Fulham went into their 2018-19 Premier League campaign full of hope and optimism. However, that quickly vanished after Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked after a poor start. Even Claudio Ranieri could not save them, as the former Premier League title-winning boss left the club after a short and unsuccessful spell in charge. Scott Parker, who ended his playing career at Craven Cottage, has taken over on a permanent basis after a positive spell as caretaker boss.

Fulham’s best bit of business over the summer was getting Aleksandar Mitrovic to sign a new five-year contract. The Serbia international was a revelation for the Cottagers in their promotion-winning campaign back in the 2017-18 season. He was unable to replicate his scoring feats in the top flight but at this level he is clearly a real threat. Parker will be hoping to bring in a few more faces before they kick off their season at Barnsley on the opening weekend. You can get Fulham at 7/1 to win the league before a ball has been kicked butt with Parker’s limited experience that looks a little short to us.

Cardiff City – 14/1

Like Fulham, Cardiff were also relegated from the Premier League after one season. Unlike the Cottagers, though, the Bluebirds gave a great account of themselves in difficult circumstances last season, missing out on survival by just two points in the end. The Welsh side will be hoping to have another good campaign under promotion expert Neil Warnock in the Championship, and the bookies have them priced at 14/1 to win the title.

Cardiff have brought in the likes of Curtis Nelson, Will Vaulks and Joe Day, which has certainty improved an already very strong squad. If the Bluebirds can keep hold of their best players this window, City could be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship this season. They have a man who knows how to forge a tough second tier side and lots of players who have the same experience and so 14/1 may well be an excellent price.

West Bromwich Albion – 14/1

West Bromwich Albion had a solid first season back in the Championship last term, ending up in fourth position on 80 points. However, the Baggies were beaten by Midlands rivals Aston Villa in the play-off semi-finals. Former West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic is the new man tasked to get Albion back into the Premier League and he has enjoyed some great success in his managerial career, albeit not in this division.

At this level, West Brom are a huge club, and Bilic certainly has an excellent squad at his disposal. More players are likely to be coming in and heading out of the door at The Hawthorns before the season gets underway, but the Baggies will fancy their chances of pushing for promotion this season. At the time of writing, West Brom are available at 14/1 to win the Championship.

Who Will Be Promoted To The Premier League?

Last Updated: 10th July 2019
Pitch Invasion by Stoke City Fans Following Promotion
TubesSCFC, Wikimedia Commons

The battle for the top six in the Championship is always a thrilling and exciting one that invariably goes right down to the last game of the season. Several clubs will be eyeing a play-off berth, but only three will gain promotion. Leeds (8/15), Fulham, West Brom (both 5/6) and Cardiff (10/11) are all odds-on to finish in the top six.

Last term, Leeds, West Brom, Aston Villa and Derby were the four teams in the play-offs. The Villans went on to secure promotion to the Premier League, beating Derby 2-1 at Wembley Stadium in the final. Which four clubs will be in the mix to contest the 2019-20 Championship play-offs, along with the above-mentioned title challengers?

Stoke City – 7/2 (11/8 Top 6 Finish)

This time last year, Stoke City were being tipped to have a good season in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League. It was anything but, however, as the Potters ended their campaign in a lowly 16th place, picking up just 55 points along the way. Many teams struggle in their first season in the Championship but with a better understanding of what is needed Stoke will surely do better this time around.

The Potters, who have Nathan Jones at the helm, have been very busy in the transfer market, bringing in the likes of Jordan Cousins, Adam Davies, Lee Gregory, Nick Powell and Stephen Ward, all on free transfers. Also, they paid £2m to Barnsley for Liam Lindsay’s services. The Potters are available at 11/8 to finish in the top six and 7/2 to be promoted and look well set to give anyone who backs them a decent run for their money.

Middlesbrough – 4/1 (7/4 Top 6 Finish)

Middlesbrough appointed former player Jonathan Woodgate as their new boss in the summer. The ex-Real Madrid man racked up over 100 league appearances during his playing days at the Riverside Stadium. How he gets on as a manager on Teesside remains to be seen. He clearly has a lot of experience as a player but his understanding of being a boss is limited to short spells as a scout, assistant coach and academy coach. You can get Boro at 4/1 to be promoted, but odds of 7/4 for a top six place seems a better choice, even if you Woodgate will take to management well.

Middlesbrough missed out on the play-offs by a single point under Tony Pulis last season, which was deemed a failure by the board who later sacked the Welshman. Boro face fierce competition for a top six spot this season, but they should be in the mix given the players in their squad and the backing the new boss should get in the transfer market.

Derby County – 11/2 (9/4 Top 6 Finish)

With Frank Lampard moving to Chelsea, it’s difficult to envisage what kind of season Derby will have. The Rams were very competitive under Lampard last season, sneaking into the play-offs in the latter stages. Despite losing in the Championship play-off final, it was a successful season for the Pride Park faithful. They have been knocking on the door of the top flight for a long time now, being play-off regulars, but is this the year the door finally opens?

Former Barcelona legend Phillip Cocu has recently been unveiled as the new Rams boss. The Dutchman had previously been in charge of PSV Eindhoven and Fenerbahce. The 48 year old was superb in Holland but struggled at Fenerbahce and so remains something of an unknown quantity. Derby are a big club at this level, and the signing of Cocu emphasises that fact. At 11/2 for promotion and 9/4 for a play-off spot, it could be worth keeping an eye on County this term.

Huddersfield Town – 5/1 (9/4 Top 6 Finish)

Huddersfield had a season to forget in the Premier League last season. The Terriers finished rock bottom, picking up a mere three victories in the process. In truth it was only really a matter of time given their resources and staying in the top flight the previous year was almost a miracle. Town are being priced at 5/1 for an instant return to the top tier. Meanwhile, 9/4 is their price for a top six finish but their budget remains small, even by Championship standards.

Jan Siewert, who took over at the backend of last season, has brought in Tommy Elphick, Herbert Bockhorn, Reece Brown and Josh Koroma. Meanwhile, Isaac Mbenza has arrived on a permanent deal. Will Town be a major player in this year’s Championship, or will Siewert’s side fall short?

Relegation Betting

Last Updated: 10th July 2019
Football Player Conceding Goal

Charlton, Barnsley and Luton were the three teams promoted from League One last term. The Addicks and the Tykes are both priced at 9/4 for relegation, whilst last season’s League One champions are available at 7/2. The battle for survival is always fascinating in England’s second tier, with this season expected to be no different.

Charlton Athletic – 9/4

Charlton had a stunning end to their regular season last term, winning seven of their last eight to finish in third place on 88 points. Lee Bowyer’s boys then went on to beat Doncaster Rovers on penalties in the semi-finals of the play-offs before seeing off Sunderland (2-1) at Wembley.

After a few years in League One, the Addicks supporters will relish Championship football being back at The Valley. However, the step up can be big, and Athletic will undoubtedly have their work cut out. Charlton are currently the joint favourites at 9/4 for relegation, which is very decent offer.

Barnsley – 9/4

Barnsley’s latest stay in the third tier lasted for just one season, as Daniel Stendel guided the Tykes back to the Championship as League One runners-up last term. Barnsley pipped the likes of Charlton, Portsmouth and Sunderland to second place, accumulating a superb 91 points along the way and playing some nice football too.

The team from South Yorkshire could find it tough going in the Championship, though, with the bookies pricing them at 9/4 for an instant return to League One. However, they have bolstered their squad with a number of signings, with several players heading the other way. It will be very interesting to see how Stendel does in England’s second tier after an excellent first year in charge at Oakwell and success in the Championship could see him become the latest German manager heading into the Premier League.

Millwall – 7/2

Millwall finished in eighth place in the 2017-18 season, but they had a miserable time last term. Neil Harris’ side narrowly avoided relegation, finishing just four points above the drop zone. Along the way, the Lions lost 22 times and scored just 48 goals in 46 games: it was a season Millwall fans will gladly consign to the history books.

Lee Gregory has left to join Stoke, while Conor McLaughlin and Ryan Tunnicliffe have also departed The Den. In the other direction, Matt Smith and Frank Fielding have arrived. Millwall could be set for another season of struggle, and there’s good value in odds of 7/2 for the Lions to go down.

Luton Town – 7/2

Luton were excellent on their way to claiming the League One title last season. Town won 27 times, drew 13 and lost just six matches, accumulating a massive 94 points. Meanwhile, the Hatters scored a staggering 90 goals. This will be Luton’s first year in the Championship since the 2007-08 season, with the club even dropping out of the Football League since then.

With James Collins in attack, Luton stand a very good chance of staying up this season. The striker netted 25 League One goals last term and will no doubt be a big hit in the second tier if he can stay fit. Meanwhile, Martin Cranie, Brendan Galloway (once a serious England prospect at Everton), Callum McManaman and Ryan Tunnicliffe have signed deals at Kenilworth Road. The bookies have Luton priced at 7/2 for the drop, but they should be just fine given some of the classy signings they have made.

Reading – 3/1

Since Jaap Stam guided the Royals to the 2017 Championship play-off final, Reading have gone backwards at a truly alarming rate. The Berkshire club have finished in 20th spot for the last two seasons running, accruing 44 and 47 points respectively. Could it be third time unlucky for Reading? Jose Gomes’ side are priced at 3/1 to be relegated.

Gomes has done a solid job at the Madejski Stadium since arriving last December, but how far can he take them this season? A club of their size should be pushing for promotion, not battling relegation each year. Meanwhile, Reading have yet to make any new signings, with Liam Kelly, Joey van den Berg and Anssi Jaakkola all leaving the Madejski. After back-to-back 20th place finishes, where will the Royals end up this season?

QPR – 3/1

Also priced at odds of 3/1 to be relegated are QPR. Rangers recovered well after a disastrous start to last season under Steve McClaren, even flirting with the play-off places at one point. However, the Londoners finished in 19th spot, losing exactly half of their 46 games in the process. Former Brentford and Rangers boss Mark Warburton is now in charge at Loftus Road, McClaren having been relieved of his duties during an incredibly poor run.

The likes of Yoann Barbet and Lee Wallace have joined, with Jake Bidwell, Luke Freeman and Matt Smith heading in the opposite direction. Not too long ago, QPR were a Premier League outfit, but it’s been a pretty woeful last couple of years or so for the club. The Hoops have been going backwards lately, although they should have enough quality within their ranks to avoid relegation this term.

Championship Top Goalscorer

Last Updated: 10th July 2019
Football in Net

In the race for the Championship Golden Boot last season, Norwich’s Teemu Pukki beat the likes of Tammy Abraham and Neal Maupay to top spot. With Pukki and Abraham in the Premier League – while Maupay has been heavily linked with a move to the top flight – the likes of Mitrovic, Kemar Roofe, Oliver McBurnie, Britt Assombalonga and others, will be battling for the award in the 2019-20 season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – 7/1

Mitrovic signing a new five-year deal at Craven Cottage was a great bit of business by the club. The striker’s goals fired Fulham into the Premier League a couple of seasons back, and he will no doubt be a deadly scorer in the Championship again this year. As expected, the Serb is the 7/1 favourite to win the Golden Boot, which is excellent value when you look at his record at this level and how well settled at Fulham he is.

Kemar Roofe (Leeds United) - 16/1

Kemar Roofe had a fine season at Elland Road under Bielsa last season. Before his injury setback in February, Roofe had scored 14 league goals. The 26-year-old has been linked with a move away from Yorkshire, but the Leeds supporters will be hoping he stays and bangs in the goals again. At the moment, Roofe is available at 16/1 to finish as top scorer and that’s a big price if he can stay fit and Leeds once again challenge for the title.

Oliver McBurnie (Swansea City) - 18/1

Slowly but surely, Oliver McBurnie is turning himself into a prolific scorer at this level. The Swansea City hitman bagged 22 Championship goals in an average Swans team last season. The Scotland international is becoming somewhat of a cult hero at the Liberty Stadium, and 18/1 is a very tempting price for the passionate forward.

Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) - 20/1

Last season was a bit up and down for Britt Assombalonga, but the Middlesbrough man still managed to score 14 league goals. The former Nottingham Forest striker is always up there with the favourites, with 20/1 being his price this year. Assombalonga has never struggled to score goals in the Championship, and he will be eager to hit the ground running under his new boss at the Riverside. The 26-year-old could be a dark horse in the race for the Championship Golden Boot this term as he looks to fully justify the big money that was paid for him.

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.

Relegation

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.