SO, the big kick off is upon us, and frankly, it's easy to say that actually it's still very uncertain as to how many teams in the Championship will do this season.
However, here at Bookie Watch, we will look to pick out the best available season long bets for you to follow this year for both the Royals, and the rest of the division.
As you can see with the prices, this market is highly contested with big spending Middlesbrough the favourites to take the Championship title this season. Having signed Downing back to Riverside, the Tynesiders look a strong outfit this season
following their playoff heartbreak last season. However the price at 6/1 is too short to offer value. Where we can find value in this market, is looking slightly lower down the order, and taking a look at a Wolves side who were consistent last season following their promotion in 13/14. They have added quality into the squad, not only in summer, but also during January, which helped push them on, and I think the 18/1 price available currently gives a nice bit of value, especially on an E/W shot. At 40/1 to win the league, Reading remain in the bottom 8 of this market. A strong start will see this price crash down, however, currently they may struggle to get the goals required to win the league, and a extra bit of juice on the price to take it to 50 would make it much more tempting. Expect this price to offer value however if they can bring in another striker before the window shuts.
MK Dons 5/1
The relegation market this season is certainly where the value lies for the punter. The first team to take a look at who may offer value would be Blackburn, they have sold Gestede, and Rhodes looks set to follow him out the door, one one or the other before the transfer window ends. This will leave them perilously threadbare going forwards compared to last season, and along with Joshua King leaving, and Tom Cairney having left, the 7/1 price on them is a big price to see them fall down a division come May. I also think that Cardiff at 8/1 may offer some value, Russell Slade has struggled since coming in at Cardiff, and I'm unsure he has the nous to be able to turn the ship around following their struggles last season, especially away from home. The final team I would look to back in this market would be the MK Dons, they have made 9 signings, some with Championship experience, Matt Upson & Simon Church for example. However, the quality they are bringing is not really the required quality they need to survive, and I feel they may struggle in the same way Yeovil did a few seasons ago. Having lost Dele Alli to Spurs, now his loan has ended, they have lost a wealth of creativity as well, and 5/1 is an excellent price to see them go straight back down.
Reading at 6/1 are not worth a bet in this market, despite the price having come in from 8's during early pre season, the squad has improved since last season, and giving Steve Clarke a full pre season with the players should allow them to focus solely on playing well in the league, as opposed the the FA cup distraction we saw under him last season.
Having looked through other bets available, there are a few that I like the look of.
The first of these is Birmingham to finish in the top half at 9/4. Birmingham really struggled during the first third of last season, however they finished up the season in 10th, only 4 points behind what was a strong (ish) Blackburn side. If Birmingham can match what they did after Gary Rowett joined them, they should have a good shot at making the top half.
Another long season bet from me would be Leeds to make the playoffs at 6/1. Despite the turmoil last season under Cellino, they appear to have settled down over summer, and are bringing in quality players, such as Stuart Dallas from Brentford. A playoff push may not be too far around the corner for Leeds, and 6/1 represents good value on them.
A season match bet, with Reading to finish higher than Blackburn at 6/5 I think is well worth a look, with Blackburn set to struggle this season, I feel Reading should be able to see off Blackburn quite comfortably. Reading to finish above Brighton at 6/5 is also worth a look.
A very competitive season is ahead of us in the Championship, as demonstrated by the close prices in each of the markets. The recommendations are below from Bookie Watch (based on a £1 point, where 1 point is a bet I recommend, and 5 is a sure fire thing!).
Wolves 18/1 - 0.5pt E/W
Blackburn 7/1 - 1.5pts
Cardiff 8/1 - 0.5pts
Reading to finish above Blackburn 6/5 2pts
Reading to finish above Brighton 6/5 1.5pts
Start - 100pt
In Play - 6.5pt
Current - 93.5pt
So that's how the money men see it but do you agree? Let us know and please remember to gamble responsibly.