The Championship kicks-off with AFC Bournemouth hosting West Bromwich Albion on Friday 6th August, and here at BettingPro we will be keeping a close eye on the outright betting markets and promotions in the England's second tier throughout the coming weeks.
What is Outright Betting?
Outright betting is betting on an event as a whole, with ante-post betting the process of betting on it prior to it beginning, sometimes weeks or months ahead.
This is a common method of betting as it can frequently aid bettors in gaining an edge on the market, rather than missing out as the odds diminish alongside a prediction potentially coming truer as the season ensues.
However, one of the cons of outright betting is that so many unexpected events can occur during a season, including change of managers, transfers and injuries. Potential cash out offers are always worth keeping an eye on for this reason.
In football, there are several markets in dozens of divisions across the world available for outright betting, with Outright Winner, Top Goalscorer and Outright Relegation three of the most popular ones.
Most bookmakers provide the function to build accumulators, too, for example predicting the winners of the Championship, League One and League Two as a treble, substantially increasing the odds on offer as a result.
Bookmakers such as Sky Bet also often offer outright Request-A-Bets, which allow you to combine different predictions into a single bet for potentially massive odds, for example West Brom to win the Championship, Millwall to finish inside the top six and Blackpool to be relegated.
Without further ado, then, let’s delve into the Championship ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, analysing which teams and players may be over-rated or under-rated and how we may be able to beat the bookmakers.
As is usually the case with the Championship, the three relegated teams head the betting in this market, with West Bromwich Albion marginally preferred to Fulham and Sheffield United.
All three relegated clubs have had a change of management during the summer, with Barnsley losing their play-offs mastermind Valerien Ismael to West Brom, Fulham snapping up Marco Silva and Sheff Utd appointing Championship expert Slavisa Jokanovic as Chris Wilder’s replacement.
All three boast enviable squad quality and depth and will surely be play-off contenders at the very least.
However, with Sky Bet paying four places in this market at odds of 1/5 each-way, I’m looking for a double figures selection.
Bournemouth, who finished sixth in their first season back in the Championship last season, appear to fit the bill at 10/1 (Sky Bet).
Scott Parker chose to depart Fulham for the south-coast club in the summer, clearly feeling it was time for a new challenge.
I don’t believe the 40-year-old would have done so had he not been confident of bringing new signings to Bournemouth, but either way they’ve got an excellent squad at this level.
The Bournemouth board made a huge mistake in replacing Eddie Howe with inexperienced coaches Jason Tindall and Jonathan Woodgate in my view, but despite massively under-performing throughout the campaign, they still bagged a play-off spot.
Whatever you think of Parker, and personally I was unconvinced until he shaped a pretty decent side under difficult circumstances in the Premier League last season, he has guided Fulham to two promotions (albeit via the play-offs on both occasions), and I think he might have an even better squad at his disposal with Bournemouth.
Ben Pearson and Jefferson Lerma provide the best defensive midfield protection a side could ask for at this level, while Arnaut Danjuma, Dominic Solanke and Junior Stanislas all hit double figures in the league last season.
They could perhaps do with a quality goalkeeper and central defender to shore things up at the back, but even without those signings, they can definitely make a good fist at winning this division.
They represent excellent value at odds of 10/1, which means you’d still get odds of 2/1 if they end up finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Alternatively, you can back them to finish inside the top six places at 6/4 (William Hill).
The three relegated teams are all odds-against to finish inside the top six places, while we’ve already suggested Bournemouth as potential value in this market, but obviously they’re a much bigger price to win the Championship.
According to the bookmakers, Welsh sides Swansea and Cardiff are the next most likely sides to join these four in the play-offs, but with Steve Cooper and Andre Ayew departing the Swans and Cardiff losing quite a few players on free transfers, I’m looking for better value in this market.
As such, Queens Park Rangers appeal at 7/2 (bet365). They finished a respectable ninth under former Brentford and Rangers boss Mark Warburton last season, and have added Andre Dozzell, Jimmy Dunne and Sam McCallum to their ranks so far this summer, while also making last season’s loan deals for Charlie Austin, Jordy de Wijs and Sam Field permanent.
I can’t envisage them being involved in the automatic promotion race, but with the likes of Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair in attack and Yoann Barbet and Rob Dickie in defence, they’ve definitely got enough about them to push on from last season and sneak into the play-offs, with their recent 4-1 friendly win over Manchester United doing little to change my opinion on that.
Alternatively, Millwall are a little longer at 4/1 (bet365), having finished inside the top-half in three of the last four seasons.
Gary Rowett is heading into his second full season at the Den, where having fans back inside the stadium will make a massive difference to Millwall.
The Lions always tend to punch above their weight, but in Jed Wallace and Jake Cooper they have one of the best attackers and defenders respectively in the Championship.
They have also added Benik Afobe, who could finally be the answer as a reliable goalscorer in the side, as well as re-signing George Saville on a free transfer from Middlesbrough.
They may fall slightly short once again, but at 4/1 they’ve got a great chance of giving you a run for your money in the worst case scenario.
Similarly to the Winners market, the three promoted sides from League One generally head the Relegation market.
Peterborough and Blackpool, who finished second and third respectively last season, are joint-favourites to be relegated from the Championship this season, with the Tangerines looking like strong value to me at 10/3 (William Hill).
Blackpool had a superb second half of last season under Neil Critchley, who is in his first role as a manager after leaving Liverpool U23’s, but from coaching staff to playing staff they do not have a lot of experience at this level.
In Jerry Yates and Ellis Simms they do have good goalscorers to give them a good chance of staying up, but again, neither have proven themselves in the Championship yet.
They’ve also lost regulars Sullay Kaikai and Oliver Turton on free transfers, and are yet to spend any money in the window, instead signing several players on free transfers, including Richard Keogh, who will at least add an experienced head at the back.
I just think they look a little short all round in a league which doesn’t really look to have any poor sides, with one possible exception.
Indeed, Derby would have been my preferred choice in this market given their financial disarray, but no online bookmakers have made them available to back for the drop at the time of writing. This feels a bit disingenuous in all honesty, but I guess they’ve learned their lessons from Sheffield Wednesday and Southend last season.
We’ll be sure to update you on this should it change, as well as any other tips which may come into our heads as more teams make more signings in the coming weeks.
Alexander Mitrovic is understandably the favourite in this market following Fulham’s relegation, with the Serbia striker one of those classic forwards who feels too good for the Championship but maybe not quite good enough to be a regular starter in the Premier League.
Adam Armstrong, who plundered 28 goals for Blackburn last season, is the other striker in single digit odds to win the Championship Golden Boot, but it’s still not certain whether he’ll be leaving Rovers or not.
Sticking with the Bournemouth theme, I really like the look of Dominic Solanke at 22/1 (Sky Bet).
Sky Bet pay four places at odds of 1/4, which makes the former Liverpool forward even more appealing.
He finished eighth overall last season with 15 goals, but Solanke is one of those players who never feels too far away from exploding as a footballer.
He’s quick, strong and has great movement, and will receive plenty of chances playing for a side expected to be towards the top of the division.
All that is lacking at times is composure in front of goal, as shown by the fact he took 2.7 shots per goal last season, but given that he turns 24 in September, he’s approaching his peak years and this should only improve.
If he starts taking more risks in front of goal rather than focusing on getting his shots on target, I can easily imagine him scoring 25+ goals, which is usually what is required to be top goalscorer in the Championship.
The only issue is that he doesn’t usually take penalties, which undoubtedly significantly boost some striker’s tallies, but I still think he can easily finish in the top four at worst.
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