The Championship Free Bets

While people love saying that the Premier League is the best league in the world, many will say that The Championship is the hardest league in the world to win. It's a division that has a profitable prize for the three teams who can win promotion to the Premier League with riches aplenty awaiting the following season. 

With each team playing 46 fixtures throughout the season and the excitement that comes with the play-offs, there is plenty of action to bet on in The Championship.

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Latest Results

Aston Villa's slow start to the season continued with a 2-1 defeat at Reading. The Villains had been tipped by many to be amongst the leading contenders in the division but three games in and they are without a win and in 23rd place. An own-goal from Glenn Whelan and a Mo Barrow strike were enough to give the Royals the three points with Connor Hourihane's last strike proving no more than a consolation. Villa's start to the season has seen their price on winning the league drift with many of the bookmakers. It's still early days of course and plenty of time for Steve Bruce to turn things around but it cannot be argued that they have not got off to the start they would've liked.

The same cannot be said for Cardiff however with the Welsh side winning their opening three games in a league season for the first time in their history. A 2-0 home win over Sheffield United maintained their 100% start and they have yet to even concede a goal this season. The Bluebirds will have been hopeful of perhaps making the top six this season but their start to the campaign may see them slightly alter ambitions. Cardiff are one of three sides with a perfect record so far with Wolves and Ipswich also winning their opening three games. Ipswich are another team to exceed expectations and make a good start whilst it has been slightly more expected for Wolves. After a summer of big investment at Molineux and the arrival of former Porto boss Nuno, expectations were raised at the West Midlands club and they have so far lived up to the billing. The calibre of the teams they have beaten should also be noted with an opening day win over Middlesbrough followed up by victories on the road at Derby and Hull. All three of those clubs were considered three promotion candidates so for Wolves to have beaten all three already is impressive. 

At the other end of the table, it's been three defeats from three so far for Burton Albion. The Brewers were favourites for the drop prior to the start of the season so their start has not come as a great surprise. They have had some tough fixtures however but nonetheless they will want to get off the mark sooner rather than later. 

The Championship 2017-18 

Title Contenders 

Aston Villa will begin the new season as the favourites for the title as Steve Bruce looks to take one of English football's biggest clubs back to the top flight. After relegation to the Championship in 2016, Villa's campaign last season looked at one point as though it could be disastrous as they lay 19th in the table after a 2-0 defeat at Preston on 1st October. Bruce's appointment saw the club finish comfortably in mid-table however with too many draws proving costly in their pursuit of a play-off place. Now in his first full season in charge, the 56-year-old will look to win his fifth promotion to the Premier League and now has the services of former Chelsea skipper John Terry to rely on. 

Recently relegated Middlesbrough are second favourites as they look to bounce back at the first time of asking. New manager Gary Monk has splashed the cash this summer, bringing in strikers Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga for over £24 million as well as Jonny Howson from Leeds and West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph. If they can keep the likes of Ben Gibson and Marten de Roon, then they are likely to be a force to be reckoned with.

Fulham come close behind and under Slavisa Jokanovic last season, they defied the odds to reach the play-offs. They have tied down key players Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney to new deals and if new striker Aboubakar Kamara can hit the ground running they'll be hopeful of a top two finish this time around.

Play-off Candidates

Aside from the previously mentioned sides, there are a number of teams that could yet enjoy fruitful campaigns whilst perhaps lacking the strength in depth to actually win the league. 

Hull and Sunderland were both relegated alongside Middlesbrough last season and can both be backed at around the 11/2 mark to go straight back up. Both teams have new managers and will be hoping to keep hold of their star assets despite relegation. Sheffield Wednesday have been in the top six in each of the last two seasons and Carlos Carvahal's men will likely receive plenty of backers to enjoy another strong season. Wolves have been spending big since their takeover last summer and with former Porto boss Nuno at the helm, they are worth keeping your eye on as are the usual suspects such as Derby, Norwich and Leeds. 

Who could be in danger of the drop?

Burton Albion start the season as favourites to go down, priced at 6/4 with bet365. They exceeded all expectations to stay up last season after promotion but the bookies can clearly envisage another relegation battle this season. Barnsley are another side that perhaps over-achieved in the previous campaign and are priced similarly whilst newly promoted Bolton and Millwall also feature. Sheffield United, who won League One last season, are a huge 8/1 with Skybet to go down which seems a very big price for a newly promoted side.

Players to watch

Mentioned further up this page after penning a new deal at Fulham this summer, Ryan Sessegnon had previously attracted the attention of many Premier League clubs. The marauding left-back is just 17-years-old but scored five goals last season and was named in the PFA Championship team of the year. He has a very bright future indeed and will surely not be plying his trade at this level for much longer, the question is whether he will make the step as a Fulham player or will he eventually depart for pastures new?

John Terry's arrival at Aston Villa raised some eyebrows this summer but JT's move to Villa Park was not even the most shocking deal of the Championship window. That title must surely go to the deal that saw Wolves land Porto's Ruben Neves. The central midfielder made the switch to the West Midlands for a Championship record £15.8 million and at just 20-years-old, he has already won full international caps for Portugal. Neves became Porto's youngest ever captain at just 18-years-old when he lead them out in a Champions League tie. With Wolves now managed by his former Porto boss Nuno and the backing of the Jorge Mendes affiliated Fosun group, Wanderers may have pulled off one of the deals of the summer.

Aiden McGeady's Everton career never really took off in the way he would've hoped. However the Irish international winger flourished last season on-loan at Preston and he has been reunited with Simon Grayson who managed him during that spell. Now as Sunderland bid to exercise some demons of last season's disastrous campaign, they will be hoping the former Celtic man can provide the creative inspiration going forward.

24 teams take part in the Championship, 18 of which played in the division last season and are joined by the three teams relegated from the Premier League, all desperate to bounce back right away and three ambitious teams promoted from League One last season. The 24 teams and their finishing places last season are:

  1. Aston Villa - 13th
  2. Barnsley - 14th
  3. Birmingham City - 19th
  4. Bolton Wanderers - 2nd in League One
  5. Brentford - 10th
  6. Bristol City - 17th
  7. Burton Albion - 20th
  8. Cardiff City - 12th
  9. Derby County - 9th
  10. Fulham - 6th
  11. Hull City - 18th in the Premier League
  12. Ipswich Town - 16th
  13. Leeds United  - 7th
  14. Middlesbrough - 19th in the Premier League
  15. Millwall - 6th in League One and Play-off winners
  16. Norwich City - 8th
  17. Nottingham Forest - 21st
  18. Preston North End - 11th
  19. QPR - 18th
  20. Reading - 3rd
  21. Sheffield United - 1st in League One
  22. Sheffield Wednesday - 4th
  23. Sunderland - 20th in the Premier League
  24. Wolverhampton Wanderers - 15th

How to Use Your Championship Free Bet

There are plenty of opportunities to use a Free Bet on the Championship whatever the time of the year.

  • League Winners
  • Who will get promoted
  • Who will make the play-offs
  • Who'll be relegated to League One
  • Match bets between teams
  • Top goalscorer in the league and for each side
  • Handicap betting
  • Top Northern Club
  • Top Southern Club
  • League positions at certain stages of the season
  • Betting on every game played during the season

There's always odds of some kind being offered on the Championship. Every game played will have some influence on the odds that are given by bookmakers. It's a good idea therefore to keep an eye on the odds given for the Championship after every set of games are played. It could just result in you finding some odds that will give that free bet of yours a good profit.

Ante post betting is always available on the Championship. There may be no games being played but that doesn't mean there's going to be any changes in the odds being offered. The transfer window always has a big influence on the following season, so make sure you know who's signing who. This can work in two ways of course.

Some teams will be signing players left, right and centre as they try to build a team that can win promotion to the Premier League. A bet on those sides could result in a win at a price that will be a lot shorter in the months ahead.  On the other hand there are always some teams who are having problems and seeing top players join other clubs. Keep note of that and take a look at the relegation market for those teams who could be facing a drop down a division.

History of The Championship

It's full title is the Football League Championship but we know it better simply as The Championship and is currently sponsored by Skybet. Previously known as the First Division, while older football fans will know it as The Second Division. Its current name has been in existence since the 2004-05 season and previous winners are:

  • 2016-17: Newcastle United
  • 2015-16: Burnley
  • 2014-15: Bournemouth
  • 2013-14: Leicester City
  • 2012-13: Cardiff City
  • 2011-12: Reading
  • 2010-11: QPR
  • 2009-10: Newcastle United
  • 2008-09: Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • 2007-08: WBA
  • 2006-07: Sunderland
  • 2005-06: Reading
  • 2004-05: Sunderland

The Play-Offs

Finishing third in the Championship doesn't mean you automatically claim the third promotion spot. The teams placed third to sixth take part in the play-offs with two semi-finals (third v sixth and fourth v fifth) with the final being held at Wembley.  There have been 13 play-offs with the team finishing third in the table winning on six occasions, the fourth placed side being promoted twice, the team finishing fifth winning three times and the side down in sixth place winning twice.

Previous Winners are:

  • 2016-17: Huddersfield Town (5th)
  • 2015-16:  Hull City (4th)
  • 2014-15:  Norwich City (3rd)
  • 2013-14:  QPR (4th)
  • 2012-13:  Crystal Palace (5th)
  • 2011-12:  West Ham United (3rd)
  • 2010-11:  Swansea City (3rd)
  • 2009-10:  Blackpool (6th)
  • 2008-09:  Burnley (5th)
  • 2007-08:  Hull City (3rd) 
  • 2006-07:  Derby County (3rd)
  • 2005-06:  Watford (3rd)
  • 2004-05:  West Ham United (6th) 
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