League Two Betting Tips

The English Football League Two is the lowest of the three leagues hosted by that of the EFL. The league format is played as the base of the professional leagues and whilst it’s seen as the lowest of the three, is widely regarded as one of the most competitive and unpredictable leagues in England.

The league is actually the fourth tier of English football if you include the Premier League, which isn’t run by the EFL. Whilst it doesn’t get the plaudits and crowds that the higher leagues get, it is able to offer up a great base for young players to get a taste of professional football.

It comes with a unique style and the games are often played out very differently than say, the Premier League. It’s known for its physicality and whilst Premier League teams put an emphasis on entertainment, League Two highlights that there is more to football than the tikka-taka style and see’s much more success from a direct style of play.

Who Will Win League Two?

League Two returns on Saturday, along with most of the Football League. The World Cup was a marvellous distraction over the summer but after that football feast we have the wonderful daily bread and butter of domestic action. The title race is our first focus in the fourth tier of English football and in common with the other two divisions below the Premier League, things are wide open.

There are three warm favourites available at single digit odds, with Notts County and MK Dons priced at 6/1 and Lincoln at 7/1. However, with a further eight sides priced between 10/1 and 20/1, it’s clearly anyone’s game. Here we take a look at the three sides who we feel are most worthy of your cash. However, with things so tricky to predict and given that 12 months ago eventual winners Accrington Stanley were 40/1 for the title, there are certainly plenty of other sides in the mix!

Notts County – 6/1

County finished fifth last season and are well fancied to do much better this time around. They were well beaten in the play-offs just a few months ago but with Kevin Nolan in charge we think they have good prospects. The former Bolton man will have to deal with low morale given the Magpies had looked nailed on to go up earlier in the season. However, they have made a number of great signings and prior to their fall from grace they had played some superb football.

Nolan is a young manager and he will have learned a lot from his experiences last season. Since taking over at County he has done very well and 6/1 seems just about a solid price price. That said, in such a fiercely contested division, it is too short for us to really get excited by.

Lincoln – 7/1

As implied, Lincoln are behind MK Dons (6/1) in the League Two winner odds but we actually feel at a bigger price it is the Imps who offer considerably better value. Like County, Lincoln lost out in the play-off semis back in May and they will be itching to get the new campaign started to try and put things right. It wasn’t long ago that they were playing non-league football, having won the National League in 2016-17. They were superb then, know what it takes to win a league title and can build on their highly respectable seventh place finish of last term.

Danny Cowley has done a brilliant job and may well get offers from bigger sides but if he stays then Lincoln have the resources, facilities and funds to have a really good crack at the title. They have strengthened very well in the forward areas and if loan signing Shay McCartan, signed from League One Bradford, hits the ground running, they could soon be joining his parent club in the third tier.

Swindon – 14/1

Our third pick in the title betting are Swindon and whilst there are a number of sides above Town in the betting, we think odds of 14/1 offer excellent value. You may also opt to back them each way, paying at ¼ of the odds for a top three finish. They finished in the top 10 last term but fans will be hopeful that Phil Brown, who has led teams to promotion several times, can bring the Robins some much needed glory.

Jermaine McGlashan looks a good signing and his trickery should make Swindon more creative, whilst they have also made good additions in midfield which should make them more solid at the back. Swindon have long been something of a yoyo club and they are no strangers to a promotion race. They certainly have what it takes to be at a higher level and this could be the year they move back into League One.

Who Will Be Promoted To League One?

Given the odds we have already mentioned in terms of the title, it should come as no surprise at all to learn that just about all 24 League Two clubs are deemed to be in with at least a small chance of going up. Morecambe, considered to be the least likely, are priced at 20/1 and with a whopping 19 clubs available at odds of 10/1 or shorter, picking your bets in this market is no easy task. With three sides earning automatic promotion being joined by a fourth to be decided through the play-offs, perhaps it isn’t such a surprise to see the market so congested. Even so, we can guarantee nine months of excitement, with the battle to make League One almost certain to go to the wire.

Naturally our three title contenders listed above are in with a real chance. Lincoln are available at 2/1, with Notts County just 11/8 and Swindon the relative outsiders at 3/1. Aside from that trio, the following four options are among the bookies’ favourites and are certainly well worth considering.

MK Dons – 6/4

MK Dons are many people’s tip for the title but we aren’t sure they have what it takes to win League Two. They are almost certain to be in the mix for promotion though, although it has to be said that odds of 6/4 look on the skinny side. They finished 23rd in League One last term and have appointed former Exeter boss Paul Tisdale since. Tisdale is a great appointment and proved with the Grecians that he knows how to manage in this division. He led Exeter to consecutive League Two play-off finals but they missed out both times and the 45 year old will hope to finally get promoted with his new side. Sides that have been relegated into the fourth tier have often struggled to bounce back straight away. The Dons have made some decent moves in the market but at 6/4 we’ll be passing them over.

Mansfield – 9/4

Mansfield are widely available at 9/4 to be promoted this season having finished eighth, just outside the play-offs, last time around. They drew too many games last term, with Luton the only team in the division to lose fewer games than they did. Just a few more goals at the right time would have seen them comfortably into the end of season play-offs but can they make the necessary improvements? Again, 9/4 is arguably on the short side and David Flitcroft hardly set the club alight after he was appointed in March. Otis Khan, signed from Yeovil, should do well but there may well be better value on offer elsewhere in this market.

Northampton – 11/4

Northampton are another side relegated into the bottom tier of the Football League who are quite well fancied for an instant return to League One. They finished 22nd in the division above last term, with their defence conceding far too many; if they can improve at the back they should have a real chance of going up this season.

Dean Austin, who has spent much of his post-playing career as a coach, was given the caretaker role last term and did enough during his brief spell to get the job on a permanent basis. He has worked with some good bosses and whilst his inexperience as a number one could be a problem, we think his troops have enough firepower to push for promotion.

Tranmere – 5/1

Our final option in this market may not seem like outsiders at 5/1 but given the nature of the promotion betting, the side from the Wirral are priced behind 10 teams and are a little bit of a leftfield pick. Rovers finished second in the National League back in May, some 10 points behind champions Macclesfield (14/1 to go up) but have the infrastructure to push for back to back promotions. A lot of players have come and gone at Prenton Park since Tranmere were promoted but we think former Shrewsbury boss Micky Mellon, who has done a superb job over the past couple of years, has made some good acquisitions. In a tight league, 5/1 looks decent value and we fancy Rovers to make the play-offs at least.

Relegation Betting

Just two teams are relegated from League Two but that hasn’t stopped a huge number of sides being priced as if they are in serious danger of going down. There are 11 sides priced at single-digit odds for the drop with another three or four hovering around the 10/1 mark. That said, if the bookies are to be believed, there are certainly three or four sides whose fans should be especially concerned and here we take a look at some of the relegation favourites.

Morecambe – 5/2

Morecambe are the rightful favourites for the drop into non-league football having survived by goal difference alone just a few short months ago. Nothing much has changed to suggest they will do much better this term and with us fancying promoted Tranmere to go well they are an obvious pick for the relegation battle. The Shrimps were taken over in the summer and have a little cash to splash but haven’t been overly impressed with the quality they have brought in thus far. Boss Jim Bentley has been at the club a long time but with new owners we suspect he may not last the season and he’ll certainly have to improve on his current win rate with the club which stands at lower than 30%.

Yeovil – 10/3

Not all that long ago Yeovil, for so long a non-league club who experienced occasional fame in the FA Cup, were up in the Championship. Now it looks they may be returning to their more familiar habitat and we can certainly see them doing worse than they did last term when they finished in 19th. Boss Darren Way is Yeovil through and through but we fancy his tenure may come to an end before too long in what is set to be a long, hard campaign for the Glovers. As said, they have sold Otis Khan, one of their best performers last term, and they haven’t replaced him. They have lost other creative players too and we think they will struggle at both ends of the pitch, with 10/3 a good price for them to be relegated.

Macclesfield – 7/2

Whilst we’ve tipped Tranmere Rovers as promotion dark horses, we’re listing the side that was so superior to them last term, Macclesfield, to go down. This isn’t as illogical as it may appear as the Cheshire side simply don’t have the resources at this level. They last played in the Football League in 2011-12 and finished rock bottom after struggling at this level for a number of seasons. The man responsible for taking them up, John Askey, has moved to Shrewsbury and we think new boss Mark Yates, who has never really succeeded as a manager in this division, is really up against it.

Newport – 6/1

Our final pick comes at the longer odds of 6/1, with Welsh side Newport sure to be a popular choice in the relegation betting. They actually finished 11th last term and whilst some may fancy they could even go up this term, we’re much more interested in betting on them to go down. County certainly overachieved last season and we think boss Michael Flynn may struggle to replicate that this term. In 2016-17 they avoided relegation on the final day of the season and we think this year will be much closer to that campaign than to the relative success they enjoyed during the last campaign.

League Two Top Goalscorer

In terms of the League Two hot shots the market is headed by two forwards in the peak years of their career. John Akinde and Kristian Dennis are both priced at 8/1 for the Golden boot but there are a host of alternative options and plenty of value, especially in terms of an each way pick.

John Akinde (Lincoln) - 8/1

Former Barnet man John Akinde is charged with spearheading Lincoln’s promotion push and if he can score as frequently as he did for the Bees his new side should do well. Akinde scored at a better rate than a goal every two league games for Barnet and should be able to improve on that with his new club. If he can get 25 goals he will be in with a real shout of landing the Golden Boot.

Kristian Dennis (Notts County) - 8/1

As is the case with Akinde, Kristian Dennis is charged with firing his side to League One and the 28 year old will want to better the 19 goals he managed for Chesterfield last season. County play some nice football and score freely but just needed a little more firepower and the former Stockport man should provide that. He makes the keeper work more often than not and at this level that is often the best approach. He works very hard and if his side can create the chances he looks a decent option at 8/1.

Kieran Agard (MK Dons) - 14/1

Former Everton man Agard has failed to really fulfil his early potential but there is still time and at a club many fancy for a title push, he could score enough goals to be in the hunt for the top scorer. He is used to playing at a higher level than this and whilst his return in League One last term wasn’t too impressive, he certainly has the tools to thrive in the fourth tier. At 14/1 we certainly can’t put you off and Agard is definitely one for the short list.

Tyler Walker (Mansfield Town) - 20/1

Walker, on loan from Championship side Nottingham Forest, is a bit of an outsider, with a number of players available at shorter odds. However, we feel 20/1 is great value, with some betting sites making the youngster just 14/1. Our previous three picks are all in the peak of their careers but Walker’s best years should be in front of him. He is fast and scored three goals from his 12 appearances for his parent club last year, two tiers above where he now finds himself. A loan last season to Bolton didn’t work out but we think Walker could well have a bright future and the best way to prove it is make Forest desperate to have him back by scoring a hatful for the Stags.

The League has been in its current format since 2004 when the whole EFL league system was reformed, albeit through naming. The original name of the league was that of Division Four, which was set up in 1958. It then changed to Division Three when the Premier League broke away and was formed in 1992, before finally being renamed League Two in 2004.

Sky Bet are the current sponsors for the league, with the official title being that of Sky Bet League Two. Many still refer to it as Division Three though.

As the sponsors are those who work with the EFL, the leagues governing body, they tend to take on the name of these sponsors. Some of them have included the likes of Canon, Today Newspaper, Barclays, Endsleigh, Nationwide, Coca-Cola, npower and most recently, Sky Bet.

Format

The league includes 24 teams in total, which is the same as both the Championship and League One. The format is pretty much the same as each of these leagues, with all 24 teams playing each other both home and away throughout the season. This means that in total, each team will play 46 games throughout the season, some 8 more than the Premier League.

The cast majority of games take place on a Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening. Some games will be moved in order to fit in matches for TV purposes or even for more convenient times for local authorities to police, such as major local derbies. As League Two get the fewest number of matches shown live within the EFL, few games need to be moved, so often you see that the majority of teams will all play at the same time throughout the week. The biggest disruptions come in the form of cup runs, which need to be allocated accordingly.

There are four teams in total that get promoted to League One come the end of the season. The places are earned by that of a point scoring system, with the teams ranked in highest points first. Usual rules apply for points, such as 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and none for a loss.

League Two is unique with 4 teams getting promoted, as both the Championship and League One only have three teams. Three are automatic spots and the final spot comes from the playoffs.

The playoffs are played out between the four teams ranked 4th to 7th, respectively. The first stage is played over two legs, with 4th playing 7th and 5th playing 6th. The aggregate winners over both legs will then play in the final, hosted at Wembley Stadium.

The final is a winner takes all match. The winners progress to League One and the losers will remain in League 2 for the following season.

Cup Entries

As a member of League 2, the teams are able to enter three cup competitions in total. These include the FA Cup, League Cup and the EFL Trophy. The FA Cup and the League Cup will eventually include teams from higher leagues as rounds progress and is often a chance for teams from the league to go head to head with some of the best teams in Europe.

The EFL Trophy has been designed by the English Football League and does not include the first team squads from Premier League teams. But, in a recent change to the format in 2017, they now allow Premier League and Championship teams to field their academies, which are made up of players aged 2q and under. The EFL Trophy offers the best chance of major honours for teams within League Two.

Whilst unlikely, it is worth noting that should a team from League Two win the FA Cup or League Cup, they will be eligible to take up the reward of representing within the Europa League if they choose to do so.

Prize Money

As you would imagine, the money on offer at League Two level compared to the likes of the Premier League is worlds apart. Each team is offered a basic award from the EFL of £472,000, with a solidarity payment from the Premier League of £430,000, totalling £902,000.

The money between League 1 and League is quite significant as well, with League 1 teams picking up around £1.3million in total, almost 50% more than in League Two.

The money on offer for players is small compared to the likes of the higher leagues, but in the real-world, still offer a very good living. Players will look to take home around £1,000 a week, but this can fluctuate anywhere between £200 a week and £5,000 a week, depending on the stature of the player. At around £50,000 per year to play a solid level of football, it shows that whilst the money does drop off massively so as you work down, there is still money to be made.

Transfer Window

As League Two is part of and run by the EFL, they have to adhere to rules regarding transfers just as any other club in the association would. The transfer window usually opens around early May, after the season has ended and shuts on the 31st of August. But, in 2018/19 season, this deadline is being brought forward to the 9th of August in order to close before the first game of the season. The Premier League are also applying these rules for this season as well.

 Clubs are still allowed to loan players until he end of January and also agree option to purchase deals for when the window reopens in January. The January transfer window is one that occurs across Europe and opens on the 1st of January, closing on the 31st of January.

The History of League Two

League Two came about in 2004 in its current format, although it has actually been running since 1958. The league was originally brought in 1958 to offer another professionally run league by the EFL. It was designed as a feeder league into the then Division Three, but has been able to stand on its own for several years after and now is widely regarded as quality football league.

It’s growth and expansion is one that is ranked on a world level. In the 2016/17 there were over 2.8million fans across the course of the season. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the Turkish Super League, 3 Division of German football (equivalent to League One in England), Brazil 2nd Division, Siwss Super League and the Canadian Football League, to name just a few.