League One: winners & losers
Frank Monkhouse | 5 August 2017
Third-tier boasts some familiar faces
There are some of English football’s biggest names competing in League One this season, including a trio of former Premier League sides in Blackburn, Wigan and Portsmouth. Having fallen on hard times over the last few years, they’ll be looking to the future.
Will the winner come out of those three? The pre-season betting market certainly thinks so, placing them as the shortest prices in the field, but if we have learned anything from previous seasons it’s that we must expect the unexpected. Here’s how our boys think the year will go.
Former big guns head the betting
Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers sunk into League One thanks to a 22nd place finish in the Championship last term. Troubles off the field have resulted in some very poor form on it, leaving fans wondering if they’ll ever see the glory days again. Rovers have a proud history of success, winning the top division three times, most recently in 1995, after finishing runners up the year below. Who would’ve thought that 22 years later fans would be crossing their fingers hoping to win League One? They’re 9/2 favourites with Coral to do just that.
The Ewood Park side are the division’s shortest price, but they are far from convincing, proving our boys, like the rest of football at the moment, aren’t exactly sure how things will go this term. Wigan Athletic front the chasing pack at 15/2, and they too suffered the hurt of relegation last season, ending 23rd in the Championship. We then have Portsmouth, who are inching their way back up the ladder. Pompey enjoyed a stunning end to last season, staging a late smash and grab on the League Two title, pulling off a title win no one saw coming. Fancy back-to-back triumphs? There’s 9/1.
Blackpool look the value option
We may have already touched on the eventual winner, but Coral’s promotion betting offers a bit of a safety net to punters, gifting you the chance to back your selections to go up, without having to win the league. Looking at the value plays there and Portsmouth must be respected at 11/4. Kenny Jackett has been active during the summer break, bringing in the likes of Ipswich striker Brett Pittmann and Tottenham goalkeeper Luke McGhee. The pair join a side already capable of holding their own at this level.
Looking away from the leaders in the hope of landing a touch of value in the promotion betting and Blackpool are trading at a tempting 16/1. The Seasiders were promoted from League Two, despite finishing seventh, and will be hoping to put a bit of a dent in this division. Gary Bowyer’s side were far from impressive last term, but they called on their big game experience and have made some eye-catching moves during the transfer window.
Tough season ahead for Latics
At the other end and it won’t be long before we’re seeing Oldham and Shrewsbury fall into League Two, with the pair favourites for the drop at 11/8 and 6/4 respectively. That’s no major shock, but rather more surprising is the fact Blackpool are third in line to be relegated, and traders really don’t have much faith in Bowyer’s team. We would rather be on promotion rather than relegation, the latter tight enough at 6/4.
Oldham were no better than 17th in the spring, far enough in front of the bottom four that they didn’t have to worry in the final weeks, but only four points better than Port Vale in 21st. Bury were a lot closer, a single point the difference, and we’d prefer a bet on them at 9/2. That gives more of a price and Oldham certainly aren’t the worst side in the division.