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Championship Betting: A look at the race for promotion as the season enters its final furlong

Championship Promotion Betting: The race is hotting up
Championship Promotion Betting: The race is hotting up

With only 10 games remaining in the Championship, the race for promotion is really starting to heat up. At the time of writing, just eight points separate ninth place with sixth, with as many as five teams still in with a realistic shot of achieving a top-six finish. 

While Norwich are running away with things right at the very top, there are still four sides all gunning for that elusive second automatic promotion spot. Here, we assess every club currently in the mix, alongside offering up our opinion on which sides look good value for promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs.

Championship Creative
Championship Outright Betting

Norwich - 1st, 79 points

  • Odds to win the league - 1/10
  • Odds for promotion - 1/100

Norwich have long been known as one of England’s most prolific ‘yo-yo’ sides, constantly fluctuating between the top-flight and the second tier, and this season it looks like they will rewrite history once more by earning promotion back to the Premier League after being relegated from it just last term.

The Canaries have been practically flawless throughout the campaign and now have a ten-point lead at the summit of the division. They’ve won their last eight and have more or less guaranteed their promotion with ten games still left to play. It would take a monumental collapse for them to throw it away from here.

Watford - 2nd, 69 points

  • Odds to win the league - 16/1
  • Odds for promotion - 8/11
  • Odds to make the play-offs - 1/2
  • Odds to win the play-offs - 7/2

Similar to Norwich, Watford were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season but are currently in pole position to regain their top-flight status next term. The Hornets have won 20 of their 36 games this time out and are currently bang in form having won their last three games, with their latest win coming in dramatic style at the weekend as Adam Masina bagged a stunning free-kick to beat Cardiff in the 94th minute. 

The Hertfordshire outfit currently lie second in the table but are there on goal difference alone, with third-place Swansea on the same points tally with a game in hand, so they cannot afford to let things slip from now until May. Indeed, Watford’s final two games are against fellow promotion hopefuls Brentford and Swansea, so having their destiny secured before those games would be the ideal situation for Xisco’s men. 

Swansea - 3rd, 69 points

  • Odds to win the league - 20/1
  • Odds for promotion - 6/5
  • Odds to make the play-offs - 4/9
  • Odds to win the play-offs - 11/2

As alluded to above, Swansea sit third as things stand but do have a game in hand over the majority of the sides around them, including both Watford and Norwich. The Welsh side have been really impressive this term, losing just six games (only leaders Norwich have lost less with five).

The Swans also have the joint-best defensive record in the Championship, alongside Watford, conceding only 25 times in 2020/21, which is a good job as in front of goal they haven’t been all too impressive, scoring just 45 goals which ranks them eighth in the league’s ‘goals for’ table. All in all, though, things are looking good for Steve Cooper’s side, and should they win their game in hand then they will give themselves a real foothold in the race for automatic promotion.

Brentford - 4th, 66 points

  • Odds to win the league - 20/1
  • Odds for promotion - 8/11
  • Odds to make the play-offs - 4/7
  • Odds to win the play-offs - 16/5

Serial promotion contenders Brentford are always there or thereabouts in the race to obtain Premier League football, but season after season they just seem to fall short. Last term, the Bees were beaten by west London rivals Fulham in the play-off final, but in truth they never should have let themselves fall into the uncertainties of the play-offs after being in the automatic places for so long. 

Brentford rank higher than any team when it comes to goals scored this term, finding the net 62 times in 35 games. Summer signing Ivan Toney has found no issues in fitting into his new surroundings and is currently the division’s leading goalscorer with 26 to his name. Defensively, however, they need to tighten up. 36 goals shipped is not good enough for a team who have aspirations of a top-two finish, while their inconsistency is also proving detrimental to their cause; silly points dropped against sides they should be beating could cost them if it is not rectified in the remaining months of the campaign. 

They do have a game in hand over the rest of the chasing pack (barring Swansea), which is huge and goes without saying is a must-win. I can’t help but feel if they don’t achieve automatic promotion then it could be a case of the same old story repeating itself for Brentford, with their mettle seemingly incapable of withstanding the immense pressures of the play-offs in years gone by. 

Reading - 5th, 61 points 

  • Odds to make the play-offs - 8/13
  • Odds for promotion - 7/1

There’s a five-point gap separating the top-four and the rest of the pack, which Reading currently head up. The Royals fired out of the blocks at the start of the season and initially topped the pile for several weeks, but have since fallen away a little. 

They still find themselves in a good spot heading into the final ten games of the campaign and have plenty of momentum behind them after three wins and a draw in their last four outings. Automatic promotion will probably prove a step too far for the Berkshire side, but I’m confident in their ability to finish in the play-off positions and would have them as strong contenders to win them should they do so. 

Barnsley - 6th, 61 points 

  • Odds to make the play-offs - 1/6
  • Odds for promotion - 5/1

Level on points with Reading but below them on goal difference is Barnsley in sixth. The Tykes have been the surprise package this term; at the start of the campaign they were one of the favourites for relegation at 3/1, while their odds to be promoted stood at 20/1. However, the South Yorkshire side have been largely impressive under Valerien Ismael since the Frenchman took over in October and since February 14 they have won all but one of their nine league matches - drawing the other! 

Their latest win came over fellow promotion candidates Bournemouth on Saturday, edging a five-goal thriller at the Vitality Stadium. Playing with so much confidence and with the wind firmly in their sails, things are looking good for Barnsley heading into the final stretch, and with a relatively favourable run-in from now until the end of the season, where they only play three sides from the current top-half, you have to fancy their chances of securing a play-off position in the Championship for the first time in their history. 

Bournemouth - 7th, 56 points

  • Odds to make the play-offs - 17/10
  • Odds for promotion - 17/2

Bournemouth will perhaps be disappointed with their current league standing after spending large parts of the season in the top-four. The Cherries’ inconsistency has ultimately cost them this time out; they’ve simply not been good enough for long enough and have now left themselves with a job on their hands to break back into the play-off spots. 

On paper, the south coast side have one of - if not the - most talented squad in the whole division, but on too many occasions they have just failed to gel together to produce results. That’s not to say they’ve been terrible and are not still genuine contenders for promotion, but I’m struggling to feel too confident in their chances at this stage of proceedings, especially with the likes of Middlesbrough, Norwich, Brentford and Millwall still left to play before the season is complete, alongside the distraction of an FA Cup quarter-final clash against Southampton this weekend. 

Championship Betting

Cardiff - 8th, 54 points

  • Odds to make the play-offs - 7/2
  • Odds for promotion - 16/1

Cardiff have a sizeable job on their hands to break into the play-off places but Mick McCarthy’s side are still in the conversation with ten games left to play. The Welsh outfit are currently seven points behind Barnsley but do have a much better goal difference than the three clubs above them, so if they can return to winning ways they’ll have every chance of closing the gap, should, of course, the likes of Reading, Barnsley and Bournemouth start to drop some points in the meantime. 

After a glistening run of form throughout February, where Cardiff won all six of their games, the Bluebirds have now won just one of their last four, losing to Watford courtesy of a 94th minute goal at the weekend. Little time to dwell on that, though, with the visit of Stoke this evening pivotal for their chances of promotion. If they fail to win that match, it could well be game over. 

Middlesbrough, 9th - 53 points

  • Odds to make the play-offs - 8/1
  • Odds for promotion - 30/1

This is a really outside shout, but Middlesbrough are just about within reach of the play-offs at this moment in time. Neil Warnock’s side sit eight points outside of the top-six so cannot afford any slip-ups from now until the end of the season if they’re to stand any chance of breaking into it in May. 

It is doubtful that they will be able to mount a late surge, but stranger things have happened in this magnificently unpredictable league. A tough run-in features games against Bournemouth, Watford and Barnsley from now until the campaign finishes, but that is reflected in their odds of 30/1 for promotion.

BettingOdds Verdict

With Norwich seemingly having the league wrapped up, the real battle looks as if it is between Watford, Swansea and Brentford for automatic promotion. The latter two of those sides do have the luxury of a game in hand, however, and I think that could well be the decider here. 

Brentford’s consistent woes in the play-offs don’t feel me with confidence, so I’m going to pluck for Swansea to finish second and claim the final automatic spot, but it could feasibly come down to the final day of the season when they meet Watford at Vicarage Road; never a dull day. 

As far as general promotion is concerned, with Watford, Swansea and Brentford’s prices in the market being so short I can’t help but feel drawn to Reading at 7/1, while Barnsley at 5/1 could also be worth a play given how flawless they have been of late. Indeed, with more play-off experience, my money would probably be on the Royals. 

Championship outright odds

Sheffield United
Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City
Stoke City
Bristol City
West Bromwich Albion
Rotherham United
Hull City
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Odds correct as of 2023-03-30 21:30 Odds subject to change.
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