The new Championship season kicks off on August the 17th and we have taken a closer look at some of the leading contenders or dark horses to see if there is any ante post value to be had in the Championship betting market. Here we take a look at Birmingham City.
Championship Odds – Birmingham City
Winner: 22/1 Bet365
Promotion: 7/1 Bet365
Birmingham City Profile
With financial problems starting to subside, Birmingham City have begun to move forward in their attempts to regain Premier League status. Manager Chris Hughton may have left for Norwich City, but Lee Clark has come in and he will be confident of continuing the good work started by Hughton last term.
The Blues finished 4th in last year’s Championship, 12 points away from automatic promotion. They were then edged out by Blackpool in the Play-offs. Those achievements however, came despite a small squad, little investment, and leading players being sold after the club’s relegation in May 2011.
Many young players burst into the team last term and Clark has been quick to supplement those eager youngsters with a few experienced campaigners who know how to drag a team over the line. Veteran keeper David Lucas has come in, but more importantly, the likes of Hayden Mullins and Darren Ambrose will add a certain amount of know-how, in a division where that is regularly required. The marquee signing is that of Peter Lovenkrands who joins on a free transfer. Blues fans will hope he can become another Seb Larson and fire Birmingham back into the top flight.
In addition to the new faces, it is important for the team’s prospects that last season’s top performers stay, and the early signs look good in that respect. Bids for Curtis Davies and Jack Butland have so far been rebuffed, one enquiry for Butland was thought to be in the region of £6 million. The England Under-19 stopper would be expected to fill the shoes of outgoing keeper Ben Foster, who has left for West Brom, but is the only significant departure so far this summer. Chairman Peter Pannu has stated it would take “mind boggling” figures to persuade him to sell his star players, and that is good news for those looking to take the early prices about Birmingham City in the Championship.
Birmingham look good value in both the outright market and the promotion market, and there could be trading potential for both bets. The Blues have a reasonably comfortable opening set of fixtures, the first 5 are against teams promoted from League 1, or sides that finished in the bottom half of the table last term. The visit of Bolton in game 6, is the first match against one of the ‘leading contenders’ in terms of the betting market. Should Lee Clark’s side start well, their odds will drop considerably and given the form with which they finished last season, there is every reason to think they will.
Championship Betting verdict
The Championship is very difficult to call, and while the odds on Brum winning the division outright are tempting, the promotion odds look a more solid option. The Blues have a good squad which should make the play-offs, and given some good fortune, could get involved in the title hunt. In a division that is so often tight, it pays to side with clubs who are ‘proven’ and last season’s 4th puts Birmingham in that bracket. The summer additions can ensure another decent run at promotion.