League One, the third tier of English football, begins for another season on Saturday 7th August with a bumper-filled catalogue of 11 matches kicking-off at 3pm. Here at BettingPro, we've got a few betting angles on some of the main outright markets for you to consider ahead of the 2021/22 campaign starting.
What is Outright Betting?
League One truly does look as strong as it ever has been this season, with massive clubs like Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth supplemented by recent Premier League outfits such as Charlton Athletic, Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.
As has been the case in the last three seasons, Sunderland are the bookmakers’ favourites to win a division which they have not been able to escape from.
However, it is Ipswich who we fancy to have a seriously strong season, and make in third time lucky in terms of returning to the Championship, where they previously spent 17 consecutive seasons before being relegated in 2019.
Former Wigan boss Paul Cook replaced the unpopular Paul Lambert in March, with the Suffolk-based club attracting a new ownership group only a month later.
Cook has had a serious clear-out during the summer, with the likes of Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse and Freddy Sears allowed to leave. Frankly these players were more representative of the club’s decline than anything positive they provided in their earlier seasons, but obviously they still needed replacing.
And, on the face of it at least, that certainly has been achieved, with Scott Fraser, Wes Burns, Lee Evans, Joe Pigott and Matt Penney all recruited from fellow League One clubs. Rekeem Harper has essentially replaced Andre Dozzell for around half of the £1m they received from Queens Park Rangers, while Vaclav Hladky, Conor Chaplin, Macauley Bonne and George Edmondson add further depth to the squad.
It may take time for so many new faces to adapt to each other and their new surroundings, but Cook is a proven operator at this level and the Tractor Boys now look to have the best squad in the division. At some point they should click, making 7/1 on them to win the division or 4/1 (Sky Bet) on them being automatically promoted both decent prices.
For those looking for a bigger price, I’m surprised to see Rotherham at 14/1 given their success in League One in recent years.
The Millers’ recent seasons read: relegated, promoted, relegated, promoted, relegated, suggesting they are a true yo-yo club in the sense that they’re too good for League One but not quite good enough for the Championship either.
Incomings have been limited, but they have not lost any key players either, with the man who has overseen all of those promotions and relegations in the shape of Paul Warne remaining in the dugout.
It might be tough for them to “go again,” but equally it’s pretty hard to imagine them not being in the play-off picture at the very least, making the 15/8 (Bet Victor) available on them finishing inside the top six positions very appealing, too.
Unsurprisingly, the promoted trio of Morecambe, Cheltenham Town and Cambridge United head the relegation market, which is totally understandable given the aforementioned strength of the division.
It’ll be a sizable step up in class for all three clubs, with Bolton expected to compete for a top-half position and potentially even better after enjoying a superb second half of last season under Ian Evatt.
Of the trio, it is Cambridge who we expect to struggle the most, having lost a few key players during the summer, including Paul Mullin who has surprisingly opted to drop two divisions to join Wrexham.
The U’s’ incomings haven’t exactly been inspiring either, while it remains to be seen whether 39-year-old Wes Hoolahan can still do the business at this level, especially given the regularity of mid-week matches.
If the former Norwich midfielder can, then Cambridge will likely turn it on from time to time, but we think they should be a little shorter than the 6/4 which Sky Bet are offering for the Yellows to bounce straight back down to League Two.
For those looking for a bigger price, one team which looks to be on a downwards trajectory is Fleetwood Town, who are 4/1 (Boyle Sports) to be relegated.
There appears to be a cost-cutting exercise at Highbury Stadium, where it should not be forgotten has witnessed a meteoric rise since the turn of the century.
Indeed, the Cod Army have always relied on being able to invest more than most of their peers at this level, but if that is no longer the case then their time in League One could be set to come to an end.
More players have departed than arrived at Simon Grayson’s disposal, with the 51-year-old’s body of work pretty unimpressive in recent years.
They scored only 49 goals on their way to finishing 15th last season, with the likes of Paddy Madden and Ched Evans no longer there to stick the ball in back of the net.
Their defence may prove strong enough to just about keep them up, but either way they should give you a run for your money at that price.
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