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Preview and Tips for The Brand New Football League Season

August 1, 2018

This weekend the Football League season starts with all three divisions seeing the teams get their individual campaigns underway. It’s a long and arduous season for the teams in the Football League who play a total of 46 League Games, plus games in two or three cup competitions from between this weekend and the start of May.

The three divisions are the Championship, League One and League Two and each has 24 teams battling it out, the best will be battling it out for promotion places and playoff spots at the end of the season, while for the struggling teams, they will face a battle against relegation.

Here’s how the promotion/playoff and relegation issues are decided in each division, together with a look at the fixtures for the first weekend and the top bets we feel you can back right now for the season ahead in each division.

As always, our choice for betting on football is bet365 Sport and all odds are taken from their site and were correct at the time of writing.


  • Promotion (2) – Top two teams in the league
  • Playoffs (4 – 1 team earns promotion) – Teams finishing 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.
  • Relegated (3) – Teams finishing 22nd, 23rd and 24th in the division

Opening Weekend Championship Fixtures (Kick off 3pm, Sat 4th August unless stated)

  • Reading v Derby County (Fri 3rd Aug – 8pm)
  • Birmingham City v Norwich City
  • Brentford v Rotherham United
  • Bristol City v Nottingham Forest
  • Ipswich Town v Blackburn Rovers
  • Millwall v Middlesbrough
  • Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers
  • West Brom v Bolton Wanderers
  • Wigan Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday
  • Sheffield United v Swansea City (Sat 4th Aug – 5.30pm)
  • Leeds United v Stoke City (Sun 5th Aug – 4.30pm)
  • Hull City v Aston Villa (Mon 6th Aug – 7.45pm)

Our Best Bets for The Championship Season

  • To Be Promoted

Picking the winner of the Championship is never easy but I think this season sees a very even contest between an even greater number of equally matched teams than usual. As such, I would look to make a bet on the To Be Promoted market as it offers more flexibility. Here I think that Middlesbrough are a very solid choice at 3/1, with Leeds United an intriguing prospect at 4/1, depending on how Marcelo Bielsa does in that role. Stoke City at 6/4 would be my third choice here.

  • To Be Relegated

With three teams relegated at the end of the season I think the smart bet on being relegated here is Bolton at even money, with their financial woes showing no signs of easing and rumours of player unrest at the club. I think Hull City (7/2) will struggle once again this season, while the situation at Birmingham City (9/1) isn’t great and I think they could be surprise strugglers.

League One

  • Promotion (2) – Top two teams in the league
  • Playoffs (4 – 1 team earns promotion) – Teams finishing 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.
  • Relegated (3) – Teams finishing 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th in the division

Opening Weekend League One Fixtures (Kick off 3pm Sat 4th August unless stated)

  • Sunderland v Charlton Athletic (Sat 04 Aug, 12.30pm)
  • Accrington Stanley v Gillingham
  • Barnsley v Oxford United
  • Burton Albion v Rochdale
  • Coventry City v Scunthorpe United
  • Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
  • Peterborough United v Bristol Rovers
  • Portsmouth v Luton Town
  • Shrewsbury Town v Bradford City
  • Southend United v Doncaster Rovers
  • Walsall v Plymouth Argyle
  • Wycombe Wanderers v Blackpool

Our Best Bets for the League One Season

  • To Be Promoted

Sunderland are the short priced even-money favourites here after two successive relegations and I think they will probably claim one of the promotion spots, but that may come via the playoffs.  For me, I think Charlton Athletic (9/2) looked very good towards the end of last season and seemed to be moving in the right direction, while I feel newly promoted Portsmouth (4/1) have significant momentum and a very decent squad at this level, plus excellent support which is always a key influence in League One where the differences between teams can be miniscule.

  • To Be Relegated

I do think that two of the newly promoted teams this season will struggle simply because of the size of their club. Accrington Stanley (5/4) and Wycombe Wanderers (11/8) did remarkably well to gain promotion, but I think this could be a real struggle for them this season, especially with four teams going down. Joining them I think will be Rochdale (3/1) who narrowly avoided relegation on the last day of the season, while I think Bristol Rovers (9/2) may find the going tough also this season.

League Two

  • Promotion (3) – Top three teams in the league
  • Playoffs (4 – 1 team earns promotion) – Teams finishing 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th
  • Relegated (2) – Teams finishing 23rd, 24th

Opening Weekend League Two Fixtures (Kick off 3pm Sat 4th August unless stated)

  • Bury v Yeovil Town
  • Cheltenham v Crawley Town
  • Crewe Alexandra v Morecambe
  • Exeter v Carlisle
  • Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers
  • Mansfield v Newport County
  • Northampton v Lincoln City
  • Notts County v Colchester
  • Oldham v MK Dons
  • Port Vale v Cambridge United
  • Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers
  • Swindon Town v Macclesfield Town

Our Best Bets for the League Two Season

  • To Be Promoted

There’s four promotion spots up for grabs in League Two, three automatic and one via the playoffs and for me, I think Notts County (5/4) under Kevin Nolan showed last season they have the quality to earn one of those automatic spots this season. I think Swindon Town (11/4) are due a good season after several poor years and I like the moves they have made in the off-season. Lincoln City (9/4) made the playoffs last season but I think they’ll be challenging the other two teams for top spot in the table. The final spot I think will be very open and I fancy MK Dons (11/8) to be the team that earn that fourth promotion spot.

  • To Be Relegated

With two teams facing relegation out of the league into the Conference, it is a nightmare scenario for any of the 24 teams in this division. Newly promoted teams tend to struggle initially but I think Macclesfield and Tranmere have the ability to stay out of the relegation battle this time around. However I do think the financial issues at Morecambe (5/2) make them a very easy pick while I also feel that Yeovil Town (7/2) may also face a real battle this season.


About Ian John

Ian John
Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.