FOOTBALL BETTING: Chris Hutcheon has a look ahead to the League 1 campaign and tries to figure out who could challenge Southampton in the 3rd tier, starting 7th August.
Had they not been deducted ten points before a ball was kicked last term, Southampton would have secured a play-off place and their strong finish to the season, not to mention the fact that they had the division’s second best goal difference, means that Alan Pardew’s men have to be respected ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Sure enough, bookies have noted all of the above and accordingly, Saints are hot favourites to top League One at 5/2 with Totesport. Even at that price, it’s hard not to fancy the south coast outfit, who are a banker at 8/11 (Paddy Power) to go up and they should hit the ground running in their second season in football’s third tier.
An obvious candidate to challenge them for the title doesn’t exactly jump from the page and subsequently there’s a chance that Southampton could run away with it. Subsequently, they could be worth a modest speculation at 18/1 in 888Sport’s handicap betting, where every other team is given a different head start.
Relegated Sheffield Wednesday, at 13/2 (Betdaq) are expected to be Saints’ nearest rivals and under the guidance of Alan Irvine, the Owls look set to make a decent fist of bouncing back to the Championship at the first attempt. They’re 15/8 at Stan James to go up and should at least make the play-offs. Similarly, Huddersfield (8/1, Jaxx.com), can improve on last season’s sixth place with Lee Clark’s men deserving of Ladbrokes’ promotion quote of just 9/4.
Elsewhere, managed by Gus Poyet, Brighton are dark horses to make significant progress this term but sadly bookmakers have cottoned on and they’re only 14/1 to be crowned champions at 888Sport. Charlton are a better bet at the same price, this time with Betfred and Notts County may sneak into the play-offs but they offer little title value at 25/1 (Partybets).
Meanwhile, at the other end, it looks like four teams from a possible eleven will go down but the two eye catching relegation contenders are promoted duo Rochdale and Dagenham, rated by William Hill at 5/2 and 2/1 respectively to find life too tough at a higher level.