EFL Championship Betting Tips

The EFL Championship is the English League’s second tier and boasts some of the highest club football attendance figures in the world, beaten only by the Premier League and German Bundesliga. It is also considered one of the most competitive leagues around with any of the 24 sides capable of beating another on a given matchday. There are plenty of twists and turns in the 46 game regular season, with many of the sides holding a realistic chance of promotion to the Premier League.

Here we give you our betting tips on every match from each round of games to guide you through the season, as well as pointers on who to follow in the outright markets. Previews will be available in the days before games are played.

EFL Championship Matches – 21st & 22nd September 2019

Date Time Channel Match Tip
21/09/19 12:30 Sky Sports Leeds v Derby Leeds -1 Goal Handicap
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Birmingham v Preston The Draw
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Brentford v Stoke Brentford to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Bristol City v Swansea Bristol City to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Cardiff v Middlesbrough Cardiff to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Luton v Hull Hull to Win and BTTS
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Millwall v QPR QPR to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Nottingham Forest v Barnsley Nottingham Forest to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Reading v Blackburn Blackburn to Win
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham Draw
21/09/19 15:00 N/A Wigan v Charlton Charlton to Win
22/09/19 12:00 Sky Sports West Brom v Huddersfield West Brom to Win to Nil

With no midweek fixtures this week the action returns to the Championship with a bang on Saturday with 22 of the 24 sides taking part. League leaders Leeds United host Derby County to start proceedings with the midday kick-off. The Rams' last visit to Elland Road saw them progress the play-off final with a thumping 4-2 win though they haven't found form under new boss Phillip Cocu this term.

Later on Saturday Gary Monk takes charge of his first home game for Sheffield Wednesday as they take on Fulham at Hillsborough. Second placed Swansea face a tough visit to fourth placed Bristol City and Stoke City will be looking for their first win of the season away to Brentford.

The sole Sunday fixture sees sixth place West Brom at home to Huddersfield Town with the Terriers facing a tough task as they look to improve in their second game under Danny Cowley.

Derby Not Yet Ready to Snap Out Of It

Phillip Cocu was given a cautiously optimistic welcome by Derby County fans. The Dutchman has a good reputation as a coach to add to his brilliance as a player but eyebrows were raised when Mel Morris said there was no expectation that Cocu would be able to lead the Rams out of the Championship.

This is a club who set the playoffs as the minimum expectation for Frank Lampard last season. The downgrade in expectations is due simply to the fact that the Derby squad isn’t as strong as last term though. Still, the Rams’ very poor start to the season has not gone down well with their fans.

Cocu must somehow coax the very best performance from his players in Saturday’s early game or else Derby will surely lose against Leeds at Elland Road. Leeds moved top of the Championship last weekend and are intent on imposing themselves on the rest of the division in the coming weeks. Marcelo Bielsa’s men are winning games without quite being at their best and we expect them to win again with a one goal handicap applied at evens.

Long Road Ahead for the Cowleys and Huddersfield

When the Huddersfield hierarchy appointed Jan Siewert as David Wagner’s replacement last season they were very much taking a long term view. They always knew that Siewert wasn’t going to keep the Terriers in the Premier League but hoped that giving him time to get his feet under the desk before embarking on the inevitable upcoming Championship campaign would prove to be a smart move.

In fact, it simply made the Huddersfield manager look like a loser who was unable to change things. Changing the mentality around the club is the number one challenge for new Huddersfield boss, Danny Cowley. Things did not start well in that regard last weekend as Huddersfield were well beaten by Sheffield Wednesday last time out.

The bookies do not expect things to get better for Huddersfield this weekend when they travel to the Hawthorns to take on a West Brom side who are still unbeaten in the Championship. Slaven Bilic’s men look solid in defence and can be lethal going forward so are very much in the automatic promotion mix.

The Championship is a highly unpredictable league but West Brom will surely prove too good for Huddersfield so back the home side to win Sunday’s match to nil at 15/8.

  • Birmingham v Preston - Fans of Birmingham and Preston are amongst the happiest in the Championship. Both teams have begun their season better than most pundits predicted and they can each add another point to their tally with the draw well priced in this one at 11/5.
  • Brentford v Stoke - Nathan Jones is surely clinging onto the Stoke job by a thread. He seems unable to turn things around at the bet365 Stadium and the Potters are likely to end another round of fixtures bottom of the pile this week. Brentford (17/20) have struggled for goals but the Bees should have enough about them to break down a Stoke side hugely lacking in confidence.
  • Bristol City v Swansea - Swansea’s start to the campaign is the story of the Championship so far. Unfortunately for the Swans the international break came at just the wrong time and may well have robbed them of their momentum. Swansea lost their first game of the season against Nottingham Forest last weekend and could taste defeat again when they make the short trip to Ashton Gate. Bristol City are flying high in fourth and can grab a fifth win of the season at a generous price of 6/4.
  • Cardiff v Middlesbrough - Middlesbrough have recovered from a poor start to the season to put together a four-game unbeaten run. Rookie manager, Jonathan Woodgate, has been very happy with his team but may see their momentum checked by Cardiff. There are signs the Bluebirds are starting to find their feet back in the second tier and so a home win would be no surprise in this one at 11/10.
  • Luton v Hull - Luton and Hull are both lacking in a bit of quality compared to those towards the top of the Championship table but they should both just about have enough to stay up. Results against the other sides in the relegation mix will be vital and Hull can give themselves a huge boost by winning at Kenilworth Road. Luton will surely score but Hull’s attacking players such as Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosiki can do enough for the Tigers to win a match in which both teams score at 5/1.
  • Millwall v QPR - Millwall have been on a very bad run with no wins to show from their last four matches. QPR, meanwhile, have won each of their last three matches. The west London side have forward players bang in form and can grab another big win in this London derby at 15/8.
  • Nottingham Forest v Barnsley - Nottingham Forest have really hit their stride under new boss Sabri Lamouchi. The Tricky Trees are being well backed to win promotion into the Premier League and should be able to claim a home win against Barnsley at 3/4.
  • Reading v Blackburn - Reading look set for another season where keeping their head above water is the main goal. The Royals have some decent players but won’t be challenging the playoff positions. Blackburn, however, may just make a run to the top six and can show what they’re about with a battling away win at 15/8.
  • Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham - Fulham are yet to really catch fire under Scott Parker but there is so much quality in their ranks that it’s surely only a matter of time before they go on an extended run of good form. The Cottagers were disappointed with their last two draws but a point at Hillsborough would have to go down as a positive result. It’s certainly a tempting betting option at 12/5.
  • Wigan v Charlton - Charlton have exceeded all expectations with their start to the season. The Addicks are loving life under the management of Lee Bowyer and there is no reason they can’t claim their fifth win of the season against a struggling Wigan side at really tempting odds of 11/5.

Championship Ante Post Betting Tips 2019-20

Norwich City Crest at Carrow Road

By Mls11, Wikimedia Commons

Norwich provided a reminder to anybody who needed one of just how competitive and unpredictable the Championship is. The Canaries’ start to last season was so poor that Daniel Farke was in real danger of losing his job. The board stuck with him though, a decision which proved wise as he led Norwich back into the Premier League as title winners.

In our Championship ante post betting tips we examine the fate of the relegated teams, the pre-season favourites Leeds and pick out a couple of teams to keep an eye on in the race for promotion. As ever, it will be a tough battle at both ends of the table, likely to go all the way to the end of the season. Get your bets on now though and not only might you find some big value, you also get the excitement of following your bet all season long!

Relegated Teams Could Find It Tough

Norwich will be joined in the Premier League by Sheffield United and Aston Villa. That is three high class teams leaving the division but have they been replaced by teams of the same calibre dropping down from the top flight?

Huddersfield fans are yet to be convinced about Jan Siewert as a manager whilst the change at the top which saw Dean Hoyle replaced by Phil Hodgkinson will have an impact throughout the club. Hodgkinson has overseen some smart signings over the summer with Tommy Elphick adding experience to complement deals for promising young talent. Huddersfield must hit the ground running to overcome last season’s disappointment. If they don’t they will find it very tough to get back into the top flight and could even be involved at the other end of the table.

Whereas Siewert is able to start afresh, Neil Warnock is prioritising consistency at Cardiff. The veteran manager is not about to change his approach this season, especially as it earned the Bluebirds promotion two years ago and was nearly enough for them to stay in the Premier League. The problem Warnock may well face is that there are no secrets to the way Cardiff go about things and they don’t quite have the individual quality of some of the other favourites for promotion.

Fulham’s chances of bouncing straight back from relegation were strengthened considerably with the news that Aleksandar Mitrovic has signed a new contract. He is one of the very best attacking players in the division and will score a lot of goals if he remains fit. Anthony Knockaert also adds quality and a goal threat to make up for the loss of Andre Schurrle, Ryan Babel and Jean Seri. Scott Parker’s lack of managerial experience could be an issue but he has a reputation as a very good coach and was an inspirational captain during his playing career so Fulham could well fare best of the three relegated sides and win promotion at 9/4 with Coral.

Do Leeds Warrant Favouritism?

After a fine campaign that ended in disappointment in May, Leeds head into the Championships season as the pre-season favourites to win the title. The club’s fans were buoyed by the news that Marcelo Bielsa will remain at the club despite missing out on promotion last season and there is a real understanding about the amount of work that has to be done if they are to finally make it back to the top flight.

After being the best side in the Championship by some distance in the early stages of last season, Leeds’ hopes that things would be different under Bielsa were dashed by yet another capitulation. The Whites must first improve their playing squad if they are to cope with the rigours of the Championship and then their mental strength to ensure they don’t falter when the pressure really gets turned on.

The main hope for Leeds fans is that this isn’t quite as strong a division as in years gone by. Whether they are good enough or reliable enough to warrant their position right at the head of the outright winner market remains to be seen. For now, it could be worth keeping your powder dry about Leeds and ignoring the best price of 9/2 that Betfair are quoting on them winning the division.

Plenty of Scope For Another Surprise Winner

Norwich’s incredible run through the division offers hope to fans of many Championship teams. The lack of an out and out favourite should give further hope to a large number of clubs and the betting for promotion shows 13 teams priced between 4/1 and 10/1 for promotion. Many of those teams will end up disappointing but a couple are going to have a real shot at automatic promotion.

Middlesbrough are one side who may well represent value in the race for promotion at odds of 9/2 with Betfred. Boro had the joint best defensive record in the Championship last season but just couldn’t score enough goals under Tony Pulis to even make it into the playoffs. There is a real sense of hope that things will change with the fresh impetus given to the team by new manager Jonathan Woodgate.

As a centre back who played at the highest level, Woodgate is sure to put a lot of work into Middlesbrough’s defence. You can expect Darren Randolph to keep more clean sheets than the vast majority of his fellow Championship goalkeepers this season but it is noticeable that Middlesbrough have gone after attacking players in the summer transfer window. Marcus Browne is an interesting signing from West Ham and adds to Boro’s goal threat. If they take a more progressive approach to their football under Woodgate, Middlesbrough may well seal their Premier League return. That said, the inexperience of the young boss could count against them.

The other team to consider backing for promotion is Brentford. The Bees wasted no time establishing themselves as a Championship side following their promotion from League 1 in 2014. Their subsequent finishes of 5th, 9th, 10th, 9th and 11th don’t paint the full picture of a team who have repeatedly threatened to challenge for promotion.

Thomas Frank took a little time to find his feet at Griffin Park after Dean Smith’s departure last October but the Dane is confident about Brentford’s chances of another positive season. Their squad looks strong from front to back and all the players will know their roles under the impressive Frank so consider backing Brentford for promotion at 9/2 with BetVictor.

Championship Betting Strategy & Tips

The EFL Championship is the second tier of professional men’s football in England. Over the years it has had many different names, including the Second Division and, perhaps a little more confusingly, the First Division. The latter name makes sense within the context of the English Football League, with the Championship being the highest level of football within the EFL. The Football League Championship took on its current moniker in 2016 and, to stop everyone from becoming completely confused, we rather hope it sticks to that name!

Structure of the Championship

Call it what you will, but as that famous box to box midfielder (not really!) of ye olde times William Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. When it comes to the Championship, old Bill might have said “Division 2 by any other name would still be as fast, frenetic, fiendishly and fiercely competitive and attract crowds the size of which put many of Europe’s other leagues to shame”. Or words to that effect.

We’ve already established that the EFL Championship is the division below the Premier League. Now let’s take a look at its structure, format and some of the keys dates on its calendar. In common with most of the top leagues in Western Europe, the Championship generally runs from August to May. Again, in keeping with most other second tiers, it features promotion and relegation and, as with all levels of UK football, there is, as of 2018-19, no winter break.

For such an important and powerful league, the Championship consists of a lot of teams. A relatively bloated number of 24 sides ply their trade in England’s second tier, whereas, for example, there are only 19 clubs in Serie B at the time of writing and only 18 in the German second division.

Teams play home and away, creating a standard season of 46 games per club and 552 matches in total. At the end of this football marathon, the top two sides gain automatic promotion into the Premier League. The bottom three are relegated into League One, whilst the four clubs finishing third to sixth go into the play-offs.

Championship Play-Offs

After the regular league has finished there is still one huge prize up for grabs as the best four non-promoted teams battle it out for one final Premier League place. The teams finishing third and sixth, and fourth and fifth, meet home and away in a two-legged play-off semi.

The two sides prevailing in the semis head to Wembley at the end of May to meet in the crucial Championship play-off final. Often dubbed “the richest game in football”, in 2018 it was said that victory for Fulham would be worth at least £160m to the club. That huge figure would rise to a whopping £280m, according to football finance experts Deloitte, if Fulham can stay in the top flight for at least another campaign.

Key Dates

Note that the dates below are based on the 2018-19 EFL Championship. The exact dates will change from season to season but these can be used as a rough guide.

  • Fixtures for new season released – 21st June 2018
  • Normal season starts – 3rd August 2018
  • Normal season ends – 5th May 2019
  • Play-off final – 27th May 2019
  • Summer transfer window opens – 7th May 2018 (for domestic transfers, 9th June for international)
  • Summer window ends – 9th August 2018 (5pm)
  • Loan transfers – available in and out until 31st August 2018
  • Winter transfer window – runs from 1st to 31st January 2019

Betting on the Championship

Betting on the Championship is huge business. This should come as no surprise because the UK is the world’s biggest regulated gambling market; football is the most wagered on sport in the UK; and the Championship is the second most important division in the UK (apologies to Scottish football, but it’s true!).

The range of markets on the EFL Championship and the overall betting coverage is right up there with the Premier League. There isn’t quite the same depth of markets and betting options but it certainly isn’t far behind.

When it comes to betting on the Championship, most of the tips within our main football betting strategy guide apply. In short, that means that looking for value is key and that studying as much information and data as possible is the best way to try and find bets where the odds are in your favour.

Looking at stats is a great way to try and pick your bets, although it’s always worth remembering that usually the odds are reflective of such publicly available information. None the less, stats and trends are fluid and so if you can get on an emerging trend early you may be able to find some great value whilst the rest of the market – and the bookies – catch up.

Home Advantage

Home advantage is often thought to be a big factor in deciding which team will win. However, the fact of the matter is that the benefit of home advantage has been diminishing steadily for a long time. All the way back in 1896, home sides won a whopping 65% of games in the Football League.

In 2015/16 this had dropped to just 41% over the top four tiers of English football, a relative drop of 37%. In other words, home advantage was over 1/3 less powerful. In the Championship, on average sides win around 48% of their home games if we look at the last few years.

In the 2017/18 season, whilst promoted Wolves and Cardiff won 16 of their 23 home games, almost 70%, most sides took three points less than half of the time. Sunderland won just 13% of their home matches, whilst 14 sides won 43.4% or fewer.

Goals

When it comes to Championship football most people think of exciting, end-to-end games with lots of action and goals galore. As said, trends change over time, but looking at the most recent complete campaign, 2017/18, those looking to bet on goals should note the following:

  • Over 0.5 goals – this bet would win 91% of the time, meaning 0-0 landed around 9% of the time
  • Over 1.5 goals – 73% of Championship games last term saw two or more goals
  • Over 2.5 – the most popular overs bet landed 48% of the time
  • Over 3.5 – 25% of matches saw four or more goals
  • Over 4.5 – back overs here and you would have won 11% of your bets
  • BTTS – BTTS was a winner in 50% of 2017/18 Championship clashes
  • Win to nil – 21% of games saw a side win to nil

As said, the bookies are usually well aware of the main trends, so you usually have to work a bit harder to uncover some real value. However, it’s worth noting that within overall league trends, you will often find some real outliers in terms of individual teams and if you can get on these early you could well make a killing.

Again, considering the 2017/18 season, whilst both teams scored in 50% of matches overall, in QPR games this figure leapt to 63%. At the other end of the scale, “BTTS – no” was a winner in 61% of games involving either Wolves or Birmingham City.

Perhaps the most lucrative bet last term was to back over 4.5 goals in Hull’s Championship matches. Hull were poor last term, finishing 18th and they conceded and scored a lot of goals. However, with the odds for over 4.5 goals usually being around the 4/1 mark, even for games where many goals are likely, Hull would have yielded a remarkable profit.

Over 4.5 goals was a winner in 24% of their games, almost a quarter. That really was a huge number of high scoring games. The next highest in the Championship was Bristol City’s 15% and the lowest was Millwall, with just 4% of their matches seeing five or more goals.

Stats and Trivia

Want to impress your Championship-loving talking cat with some dandy football stats? Does the future love of your life look like she’d be wooed by a bit of second tier trivia? Or are you just a bit of a football nerd? Whatever your motivation for picking up some Championship trifles, we’ve got 10 great facts sure to wow even the geekiest of geeks!

  1. Macedonia – the Championship’s appeal is huge and games are broadcast live in Macedonia (not to mention Brazil, Kosovo, South Korea and loads of other countries)
  2. Dark Days – Rotherham won just 23 points from their 46 games in the 2016-17 campaign
  3. The Championship is Home – Rotherham’s neighbours Barnsley have spent longer in the second tier than any other side, becoming the first club to play 3,000 games in the division
  4. Draw Kings – Southampton and Swansea (separately) have both drawn eight games in a row in the Championship
  5. Double Trouble – when the Second Division, as it was called in 1892, was created, there were 12 clubs, half the current total of 24
  6. Better Than La Liga and Serie A – not on the pitch but off it, maybe. In the 2016-17 season the Championship was better attended than the top divisions in Spain, Italy and France
  7. Major But not THAT Major – the Championship’s attendances put it ninth on a list of global leagues in terms of total attendances. However, the 11m aggregate is some way behind the 70m achieved by Major League Baseball!
  8. Striker – in the Premier League era, the most goals scored in a second tier campaign by a single player is 42. Guy Whittingham achieved that in 1992-93 and the next best is just 31
  9. Striker MK II – since 2004-05, when the Championship became the Championship, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is the only player to have been top scorer in more than one season
  10. Gaffer – in the same era, promotion specialist Neil Warnock has won the Manager of the Month award the most times. Warnock’s 10 were achieved with Cardiff, QPR, Sheffield United, Crystal palace and Rotherham

History

Now we’ve sated you stats fans, let’s give the history buffs a little information on the second rung of the English football ladder. We’ve touched on much of this already but here in chronological order is a concise history of the division.

The Football League Second Division was created in 1892 and operated under that moniker for 100 years until 1992. It came about following a meeting in 1888, at which the director of Aston Villa, a Scotsman called William McGregor, hoped to create an organised league.

The Football League was established following this meeting and soon after the rival, but little known, Football Alliance was also created. In 1892 the two merged, creating the Football League and the Football League Second Division.

Both divisions would have 12 teams and the founder members of the Second Division, nine of whom had been in the lesser Football Alliance, were:

  • Crewe Alexandra
  • Grimsby Town
  • Lincoln City
  • Sheffield United
  • Port Wale
  • Walsall
  • Northwich Victoria
  • Ardwick (now Man City)
  • Small Heath (now Birmingham City)
  • Bootle
  • Burton Swifts
  • Darwen

The number of teams in the second tier gradually grew, first going to 15 in its second season, before 16 in 1894. This became 18 in 1898, 20 in 1905, 22 in 1919, 23 in 1987, before settling on the current 24 in 1988.

The exact format of the league has changed very little after promotion and relegation were established relatively early on. There have been some minor changes but the biggest alterations were simply cosmetic.

When the Premier League was created for the 1992-93 season, the Second Division changed its name to the Football League First Division. This lasted until 2004, when the competition became known as the Football League Championship.

In 2016 the Football League took the decision to re-brand as the English Football League and so thus the English Football League Championship was born. But, as you might have heard, a rose by any other name…