QPR to bounce straight back up to Premier League
Wigan Athletic, Reading and Queens Park Rangers, the three clubs relegated from the Premiership last May, are among the market leaders to go straight up again.
Coral make QPR 6/1 favourites to win the Championship with Reading 8/1 and Wigan 12/1 and there are good reasons to believe that all three demoted outfits will have what it takes to bounce back to the big time.
But recent history is not really on their side. In the past ten years there have been 30 promotion places up for grabs and teams relegated from the Premier League the previous season have filled just seven of them with Sunderland (2007) and Newcastle (2010) the only two to go up as Champions.
Indeed, while West Ham are the only team to have gone straight back up in the last three seasons, there have been two sides, Norwich and Southampton, who have been promoted to the Premier League after coming up from Division 1 the previous year.
QPR, with Steve McLaren joining Harry Redknapp at the helm and an ambition backed by hard cash, look a better bet to win the title than either Reading or Wigan, but there are plenty of other dangers to the West London club, including Watford, Leicester (both 11/1) and Brighton (16/1), the three who lost out in the play-offs.
Watford went agonisingly close to automatic promotion and in theory they should be stronger with a bunch of their loanees from Granada and Udinese now secured permanently by charismatic boss Gianfranco Zola.
Brighton may have lost some of their appeal to punters now that manager Gus Poyet has gone, but they remain a club on the front foot financially and they could well be in the final mix again come next May.
Bolton (8/1), who finished fast but too late to make the play-offs last season, are expected to get closer still this time, while it would be no surprise at all if clubs with large fan bases and wonderful pedigrees like Nottingham Forest (11/1), Leeds United (16/1) and Derby County (25/1) got in on the act after finishing mid-table last season.
Right at the other end of the scale, in terms of crowd numbers and history, are Yeovil, relative newcomers to the Football League (2003) and most famous for FA Cup upsets back before most of their supporters were born.
Coral make them 125/1 outsiders to win the Championship and 10/11 to be relegated. Manager Gary Johnson has defiantly proclaimed that Yeovil will continue to play the entertaining football that took them into the Championship via the play-offs and that’s good to hear, but they will need Irish striker, Paddy Madden, top scorer in Division One last season, to keep banging them in if they are to survive.
Written by Jon Freeman