How the Bookies See it
Winner: Newcastle United 15/8, Norwich City 10/1, Aston Villa 11/1 - Coral
Promotion: Newcastle 8/13, Norwich 5/2, Aston Villa 3/1 - Sky Bet
Relegation: Burton Albion 10/11, Rotherham United 15/8, Barnsley 11/4 - BetVictor
Top Goalscorer: Dwight Gayle 8/1, Ross McCormack 12/1, Aleksandar Mitrovic 12/1 - Ladbrokes
Aston Villa dropped out of the Premier League for the first time at the end of last season following a dismal campaign, but the arrival of Roberto Di Matteo as manager has restored optimism and they are among the favourites.
Barnsley gained promotion via the League One playoffs at the end of last season, but this could be a much tougher year for them. Paul Heckingbottom’s side lack the financial clout and squad depth of many of their rivals.
Birmingham City finished tenth last season and the bookies are not really expecting them to improve on their mid-table position, but a number of summer signings should ensure they steer clear of relegation trouble.
Blackburn Rovers’ 2015/16 season fizzled out as they ended 15th. Owen Coyle has since taken charge, but he will need to significantly bolster a small squad before the transfer window closes if Rovers are to represent decent value for money.
Brentford made the playoffs two seasons ago, finished ninth last year and are tipped to have another decent season. However, while there is no denying the strength of the team’s character, they may be too short on quality to go up.
Brighton and Hove Albion only just missed out on automatic promotion last season and suffered the anguish of the playoffs. They are rated as fifth favourites by most bookies and in Chris Hughton they have a proven Championship boss.
Bristol City had a year of consolidation last season after coming up as League One champions. They only came 18th but showed flashes of fine form and should improve, although perhaps not enough to push for the top six.
Burton Albion are one of the Championship new boys after earning promotion from League One. Even though they are an ambitious club with a highly-rated manager, Nigel Clough, they are expected to struggle at this level.
Cardiff City will have Paul Trollope at the helm this season after controversial owner Vincent Tan decided a change was needed after last season’s eighth-placed finish. They are expected to occupy a similar spot in the standings this year.
Derby County have been knocking at the door for several years and missed out in the playoffs again last season. Nigel Pearson’s men should be there or thereabouts once more, but could other teams prove just a bit too strong?
Fulham occupy mid-table territory in the bookmakers’ markets to win the Championship, and are something of an unknown quantity. They have lost a lot of key players but made a few eye-catching signings as well, and so it could be a season of triumph or disaster.
Huddersfield Town have one of the league’s most prolific strikers in Nahki Wells and have recruited heavily this summer, but it could be hard for them to significantly improve on last season’s 19th place.
Ipswich Town finished seventh last season to just miss out on the play-off places and are not really being fancied to push for promotion this season, but having Mick McCarthy as manager should ensure they are competitive.
Leeds United’s football has been so underwhelming for the last few years that they have only really made the news because of controversial owner Massimo Cellino. Having finished 13th last season, they will hope new boss Garry Monk can finally provide some cheer.
Newcastle United are the firm favourites to win the title after suffering relegation from the Premier League. It will be hard as they are such a huge scalp, but Rafa Benitez is a top-class manager and the squad is still bursting with talent.
Norwich City are another team tipped to bounce straight back up to the Premier League, like Newcastle and Villa. Alex Neil’s squad remains similar to the one which gained promotion two years ago and they should compete.
Nottingham Forest came 16th last season, have appointed a manager in Frenchman Philippe Montanier who lacks English experience, and have yet to recruit many new players. A tough campaign could lie in store for them.
Preston North End finished last season with a bit of a flourish to move up to 11th. Most bookmakers put them in the top five favourites for relegation, so another mid-table campaign could be the best they can hope for.
Queens Park Rangers were disappointing last term and came 12th when they were fancied to win promotion. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink remains relatively unproven as a manager and key duo Matt Phillips and Leroy Fer have both departed this summer.
Reading have responded to their 17th-place finish last season by appointing former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam as manager. It is a fascinating move, but the squad may not be strong enough for them to surge up the table too much.
Rotherham United needed a late escape act from Neil Warnock to help them stay up last season. Warnock has since left his managerial post and new man Alan Stubbs sees his team as one of the favourites for relegation.
Sheffield Wednesday lost to Hull City in last season’s playoff final but will be confident of clinching promotion this time. Carlos Carvalhal helped the team make huge strides last term and, as seventh favourites, they could be a good punt.
Wigan Athletic will be in high spirits after winning League One last season. Most bookmakers are not tipping them to be a challenge for promotion, but if Will Grigg is on fire they might just be decent dark horses.
Wolverhampton Wanderers only came 14th last season but are among the favourites for promotion after being taken over by Chinese investors. Walter Zenga has been named head coach and some big signings can be expected, so watch them with interest.
It is no surprise to see the teams coming down from the Premier League towards the top of the betting in the outright winner and promotion markets, although Aston Villa’s form was so dreadful last season that it could be hard for them to halt the slide and bounce straight back up. Norwich and Newcastle are much better bets, especially Rafa Benitez’s Magpies, who do appear to have by far the strongest squad in the division.
The low odds may deter some punters from picking Newcastle to win the title, but their striker Dwight Gayle is a reasonably priced favourite at 10/1 in the top goalscorer betting. A team like Sheffield Wednesday may represent better value in terms of the promotion contenders. Becoming champions may be beyond them, but odds of 5/1 on Sheffield Wednesday going up could be worth taking. In the relegation market, Rotherham stand out as one team who could struggle after only just staying up last season and then having to change their manager.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Sheffield Wednesday to gain promotion - 5/1 at 888Sport
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.