With its high-profile clubs and an abundance of superstar players from around the world, the popularity of the English Premier League (EPL) is unrivalled. However, for those in the know, the real drama in the English game is often to be found in the second tier.
The Championship contains plenty of famous clubs itself, as well as a multitude of international players. One such player is new Kenyan international, Clarke Oduor, a versatile 21 year-old who plies his trade with Barnsley. He made his debut off the bench in the recent 2-1 friendly win against Zambia. Oduor came through the ranks at Leeds United before moving to their Yorkshire rivals last season and he looks to have the potential to play in the Premier League.
The quality of football in the Championship is naturally not on the same level as that of the EPL, but it is still very high.
The big difference though is that whereas the top-flight tends to be dominated by the established ”Big 6” clubs most seasons, the Championship is far less predictable. That can make for some fascinating matches and some great betting opportunities.
In the current outright betting to win the Championship, AFC Bournemouth are the favourites to win the title at 9/2 with bet365 sportsbook, closely followed by Brentford at 5/1 with William Hill, Watford at 11/2 with Betfair, Norwich City at 8/1 with bet365, Swansea City at 12/1 with Betfair and the early leaders Bristol City at 16/1 with William Hill.
With online bookmakers always looking to attract new customers, there are always plenty of free bets available, including ‘No Deposit Free Bets’. These provide excellent opportunities to have a bet on long-term markets such as who will win the Championship and of course risk free betting is a good option, rather than using your own money.
The relegation betting market is also one to keep an eye on, with last season’s battle to avoid dropping into League One going to the wire. The current betting odds sees newly promoted Wycombe Wanderers strongly tipped for an immediate return to the lower leagues at 2/9 for relegation with bet365.
Sheffield Wednesday (who started the season with a 12-point deduction) are 3/1 for the drop with BetVictor, Rotherham United are 11/4 with Betway, Barnsley are 4/1 with BetVictor, Coventry City are also 4/1 with William Hill and Queens Park Rangers are 5/1 with Betfair.
In addition to betting on all the individual matches throughout the season, there are also other long-term markets such as to win promotion, Top 2 Finish (which ensures automatic promotion), Top Goalscorer, Top 6 Finish (which guarantees a place in the play-offs), Highest Scoring Team, etc.
The season always ends with the Championship play-off final, which is acknowledged as the most lucrative single match in world football, being currently worth an estimated £170 million to the winners in TV money for reaching the Premier League.