The last time I wrote a bookie watch Reading had been dumped out of the cup by Stevenage and routed by Cardiff City, with fans begininng to wonder if the play-off push was running out of steam. Today things seem very different, with a cartel of new signings and the club boosted by TSI investment, all eyes are on the play-offs and even automatic promotion.
So have the bookies taken notice of the off-field antics and is there any value to be had betting on Reading?
All odds are the best price available via oddschecker on February 6, 2012.
To Be Promoted
FEB 6 JAN 9 DEC 7 NOV 5 SEPT 27
West Ham 1/4 2/5 2/5 8/11 8/13
Southampton 13/10 4/5 1/2 8/13 6/4
Cardiff 6/4 13/8 11/4 11/2 6/1
Birmingham 5/2 7/1 6/1 9/2 11/1
Middlesbrough 9/2 7/4 7/2 10/3 13/5
Reading 9/2 11/2 14/1 14/1 12/1
Blackpool 5/1 10/1 7/1 9/1 13/2
Hull 13/2 7/1 10/1 6/1 8/1
Leicester 10/1 13/2 7/2 3/1 2/1
Odds Shortening Odds Lengthening
Source: Oddschecker 6/2/12
Despite being in a worse league position than in the previous Bookie Watch, Reading's odds have come down slightly over the past month. The Royals' promotion odds have fallen from a best price of 11/2 to 9/2 in the past four weeks, making us sixth favourite to win promotion.
Back at the end of September £10 on Reading to go up would have earned you £120 in profit yet today the same £10 would net you a maximum of £45. The best prices at the moment are with SkyBet while Coral has us at just 7/2 to be in the Premier League next season, while punters on the exchanges see us around 4 or 5/1.
Our odds to win the league have also fallen slightly to 25/1 from 28/1 but making up eight points in 21 games is a tough task and it'd be a brave man to go against West Ham's evens odds, especially with their heavy January investment.
Speaking of West Ham they remain the clear favourites with the bookmakers to go up with odds of 1/4, dwarfing any of the other contenders. Southampton remain the second favourites but their odds have gone out to 13/10 from 1/2 just two months ago. Cardiff's odds have come in for the fourth successive month and now stand at 6/4 having been 6/1 back at the end of September, while Birmingham's odds have more than halved over the past four weeksto 5/2.
Interestingly no bookies are running odds on relegation at the moment, for reasons I can only imagine are related to the ongoing financial uncertainty at a number of Championship clubs. With Portsmouth and Coventry both teetering on the edge of administration and 10 point deductions you can understand why bookies are unwilling to offer a market right now.
In the race for the Golden Boot, Southampton's Rickie Lambert continues to be the runaway favourite with his odds narrowing slightly from 11/8 to 6/5. Ross McCormack has seen his odds slashed from 18/1 to 9/1 with new Saints signing Billy Sharp at 14/1. It might well be worth a punt on McCormack as he's just 2 goals shy of Lambert, with the Saints wobbling a bit and Lambert also now having to share the limelight with Sharp.
Reading wise, Noel Hunt is 40/1 with 188 Bet which seems quite ridiculous for a man who would need to score 13 goals just to draw level (sorry Noel!) Otherwise the best price you'll get on a Reading striker is 50/1 on Simon Church or 66/1 for Adam Le Fondre, with both men currently ten goals behind Lambert.
So that's how the bookmakers see things at the start of February but how do you see things? What odds would you give the Royals to go up and do you think there's any value to be had.... let us know in the comments below.