The fight to join the Premier League is one of the fiercest in European soccer, and this year, Watford are favored as the clear favorite to return to the top flight.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks, it is no surprise to see that recently-relegated teams dominate the early season betting for Championship promotion. Burnley, Watford, and Norwich were all relegated from the Premier League last season and fill the top three places in the promotion betting, though Watford are favored at +150 with Norwich second and Burnley third. Improving Middlesbrough are rated as +260 chances while two 2021’s relegated teams, West Brom and Sheffield United are next.
|To be Promoted|
The Richest Second Tier League in the World
Every football club wants to play at the top level in their nation, but the fight to get into the English Premier League is more intense than most. With many second-tier clubs boasting long histories or recent spells in the top flight, the Championship season is always fiercely contested. And with promotion to the Premier League being worth around £200 million, it is the richest second-tier league in the world.
When you’re betting on the Championship, there are a few things to bear in mind; most importantly, that winning the league and getting promoted are two separate futures markets. The teams that finish first and second are automatically promoted, and the teams ranked third down to sixth compete in a playoff competition to decide the final promotion spot.
The other factor to note is that relegated Premier League teams receive ‘parachute payments’ as recognition of the gap in pay levels between the two divisions, and to help them cope with their Premier League level salaries in the interim, which naturally gives relegated teams a big advantage.
The Main Contenders
Watford and Norwich top the betting but at their current odds, neither looks like a good wager. Watford, the favorites, have appointed Rob Edwards as manager, after he successfully guided Forest Green Rovers from League Two to League One last season, but this is a big step up in the football world, and he won’t have any margin for error at a club with trigger-happy management and a fanbase that naturally expects a quick return to the top flight. Norwich are more settled under Dean Smith, but Smith is not universally popular with Norwich fans, and his style of play – not to mention his tactical inflexibility – can produce dispiriting winless runs, so the Canaries don’t look much of a bet either.
Of the main contenders, Burnley could be more interesting after they recruited Vincent Kompany as the coach. Kompany is one of the most celebrated Premier League players of the last decade and had some success at Anderlecht in Belgium, leading them to consecutive top-three finishes. Burnley appear to have recruited shrewdly as well, but there are concerns about the financial state of the club, and as with Norwich and Watford, there is little value to be found in Burnley’s odds.
West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough could offer a better wager. Albion are facing their second consecutive season in the second tier, but while their manager Steve Bruce may not be everyone’s cup of tea, his track record of five promotions from the Championship cannot be overlooked. The recruitment of John Swift and Jed Wallace should also boost their offensive capabilities. Likewise, Middlesbrough have a proven leader in Chris Wilder and have made some good signings, including Ryan Giles from Wolves on loan. Having just missed out on the playoffs last year, they can bounce back this season.
The Championship is traditionally a wide-open league, and there are several teams with realistic hopes of becoming playoff contenders at least in 2022-23.
Beaten playoff finalists Huddersfield logically should be in the mix again, but much may depend on how well Danny Schofield copes in the hot seat after taking over from Carlos Corberan. Gary Rowett’s Millwall had an excellent campaign last time and have recruited well, including the capture of Charlie Cresswell and Jamie Shackleton on loan from Leeds, but Sheffield United look a surer bet under Paul Heckingbottom. He took them from 16th to 5th place last season, and there is no reason why they can’t at least replicate that level of performance this campaign.
Bettors looking for a Championship underdog at bigger odds do have some interesting options to consider, including high-scoring Bristol City and the rejuvenated QPR, but Swansea could be an even smarter bet. Head coach Russell Martin has added Joe Allen and Harry Darling and has had a full pre-season to work with his squad, which looks full of big characters and winning potential.
Best Online Sportsbooks to Bet on English Soccer