Championship 2011/12 latest odds, news and free bets

The teams relegated from the Premier League usually form an orderly queue at the top of the Championship outright betting market for the following season, although that is not the case for the coming campaign. West Ham are the 9/2 favourites (bet365 – £200 free bets), although Birmingham City can be backed at 16/1 (Coral – £25 free betting), with…

The teams relegated from the Premier League usually form an orderly queue at the top of the Championship outright betting market for the following season, although that is not the case for the coming campaign.

West Ham are the 9/2 favourites (bet365 – £200 free bets), although Birmingham City can be backed at 16/1 (Coral – £25 free betting), with Blackpool even bigger at 20/1 (bet365) to win a division which is expected to be as competitive as ever.

It is easy to see why the Hammers have been backed in from June odds of 7/1 to nearly half that price, with new manager Sam Allardyce drafting in several players who have experience of playing in the Premier League. Kevin Nolan, Abdoulaye Faye, Matt Taylor and Andy O’Brien should all prosper at this level.

In addition, Robert Green and Carlton Cole look set to remain at the club, while there is also the possibility that Scott Parker will stick around and that would be a major bonus for a club saddled in debt and desperate for an immediate return to the top flight.

Not that football is that straightforward and they have a big-spending rival for automatic promotion thanks to Leicester City’s rich Thai investors, something which has enabled Sven-Goran Eriksson to splash the cash during the summer. The Foxes will hope that David Nugent can kickstart his career at the newly-named King Power Stadium.

Leicester are also 9/2 (Sportingbet) to win the league having narrowly missed out on the play-offs last term, while the three teams that went even closer to promotion last season also feature prominently in the betting, with Nottingham Forest (14/1 Blue Square), Cardiff City (20/1 Victor Chandler) and Reading (16/1 Paddy Power) hoping to avoid that particular lottery again.

Two of these teams have new managers and it will be particularly interesting to see what kind of impact Steve McClaren has at the City Ground this coming season where money is relatively tight and the summer months have seen Robert Earnshaw and Nathan Tyson both leave the club.

Malky Mackay takes charge of Cardiff and will hope that the pairing of Earnshaw and Kenny Miller yield dividends for a Welsh club who have missed out in the play-offs for two seasons running. There will be no Craig Bellamy this season and Jay Bothroyd has moved to QPR with City facing a tall order to make the top six.

Reading finished last season like a train and beat Cardiff in the play-offs only to lose to Swansea in the final, although Brian McDermott has largely managed to keep hold of the players who performed so well for him last season, with the biggest question mark over the future of Shane Long. West Ham have lodged a bid for the forward and could come calling again.

Chris Hughton returns to management with Birmingham but there has been an exodus at St Andrews, while Ian Holloway has to rouse a Blackpool team that have lost Charlie Adam and are likely to be without DJ Campbell next term.

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