On Friday night, Reading and Derby will kick-off what is set to be another dramatic Championship season full of twists, turns and unexpected moments. With that in mind, it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen over the next nine months, but here’s how the betting companies think the campaign may pan out...
Note: All prices are the most commonly available odds as per Oddschecker on Tuesday 31st July. You must be over 18 years old to bet and please #Gambleaware.
Having maintained a Premier League quality squad for their first season in the Championship since 2007/08, Stoke City are the comfortable favourites to finish top of the tree at 5/1.
Behind the Potters, both fellow relegated team West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough, who lost in the play-offs last season, are 8/1.
Nottingham Forest have been helped out by Jorge Mendes in this transfer window, and will hope that his connections will fire them to the title as they did at Wolves last year. It’s 10/1 if you think that’ll happen.
Finally, Leeds United’s high-profile managerial appointment of Marco Bielsa this summer has given them odds of 11/1.
Behind the above five teams, the only other sides that the bookies see as serious candidates for promotion are the third relegated outfit Swansea City (4/1 for promotion), Frank Lampard’s Derby County (4/1) and last year’s beaten play-off finalists Aston Villa (9/2).
At the wrong end of the table, it’s fair to say that not many companies are holding out much hope for newly promoted Rotherham United (11/10 to get relegated) or Bolton Wanderers (6/5), who only stayed up in the dying seconds of the last campaign.
Most then have Ipswich Town as the third relegated team at 11/4, but sadly Reading are not far behind them at 4/1, along with QPR.
Hull City and Blackburn Rovers are both 9/2, whilst Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City are 5/1. It went right to wire in 2017/18, and it seems that bookies are predicting a similar scenario once again with such tight odds.
After moving from Wolves to Stoke on loan, Benik Afobe is being backed at 7/1 to win the golden boot in the Championship this season. One player who is not out on loan (for once) is Lewis Grabban, who has been priced at 10/1 after completing a permanent move to Nottingham Forest.
Matej Vydra, who Leeds have turned down the opportunity to sign is 12/1, whilst Patrick Bamford, who the Whites bought instead, is 16/1. That’s also the same price that Britt Assombalonga can be found at. West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez is slightly lower at 14/1.
On a sidenote, half of those six have previously played for Reading on loan. What could have been, ey?
You have go down to as far as 100/1 to find a current Royals player, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, with Marc McNulty then at 125/1 and Mo Barrow and Sone Aluko at 150/1.
How will Reading do?
As mentioned, the bookies think Reading will only narrowly avoid relegation, with the Royals fourth favourites to go down at 4/1. Meanwhile, a bottom half finish appears almost nailed on at 4/9.
If you are feeling optimistic however, these are the odds for you...
Reading to finish in the top half = 13/8
Reading to finish in the top six = 7/1
Reading to win promotion = 14/1
Reading to lift the Championship title = 50/1
Who do you think will win the Championship this year? Who will go down? Let us know in the comments below and remember if you do decide to put money on the above prices, please #Gambleaware.