- Leeds favorites to win the 2019/20 English Championship
- Relegated teams – Cardiff and Fulham – also in the frame
- Brentford looking good for a playoff spot
The English Championship kicks off on August 2, 2019, when newly-promoted Luton Town play host to Middlesbrough at 2:45 pm EST. It signals the start of one of the most gruelling divisions in soccer, the season comprising of 46 intense and physically demanding games plus playoffs.
The prize for promotion though is massive and is what makes it so competitive, with Norwich proving last season that promotion can be achieved on a shoestring budget and without star names.
2019/20 English Championship Promotion Odds
*Odds taken 07/25/19.
Leeds, who missed out on promotion last season after having spent most of the season in the top two, are favorites, with two of the relegated teams – Fulham and Cardiff – just behind them. But are they the best bets, or is there value to be had elsewhere? We’ll take a look at the three we think most likely to go up.
The Baggies had a disappointing 2018/19. Relegated from the Premier League at the end of 2017/18, they decided to keep faith with manager Darren Moore – whose appointment at the back end of their relegation season had at least some faith restored – and the majority of their expensively assembled playing squad.
BREAKING: West Brom have sacked manager Darren Moore with just 10 games left to play. pic.twitter.com/IfLcr4V1I0
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) March 9, 2019
It didn’t come cheap and was a high-risk strategy – one that meant they had one shot at getting back to the Premier League. They failed. A stop-start season of under-achievement saw them sneak into the end-of-season playoffs but they were beaten by Aston Villa over two legs and didn’t make it to Wembley, with Darren Moore being sacked in early March.
Leeds looked certain for promotion but a run-in in which they lost five of their last ten games saw them miss out on top two.
But it’s a new-look West Brom that starts the new season; a new manager, in Slaven Bilic, and a revamped playing squad that has seen some of the big-earners released and replaced with younger, hungrier players, better equipped to deal with the relentlessness of the Championship.
Out have gone, amongst others, Jay Rodriguez, Craig Dawson, James Morrison, Gareth Barry and Dwight Gayle (who was on loan from Newcastle), with a list of new faces that includes, Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff), Darnell Furlong (QPR), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham) and Filip Krovinivic (on loan from Benfica). They are also reported to be on the verge of signing Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers.
A good start for the Baggies will be essential, but it now looks an energized squad that is capable of top two.
The Bees finished 2018/19 strongly and have continued that good form over the summer. Earlier this week they beat newly-promoted Norwich City 3-1 in a friendly, and so look good to go.
While being regarded as one of the smaller clubs in the Championship, the west Londoners are ambitious and signalled their intent for the new season by signing Pontus Jansson from promotion rivals Leeds for £5.5 million.
I’m hearing Brentford are set to sign Pontus Jansson. Details to be confirmed but It’s pending a medical so unlikely to be announced until next week when the Bees are in Austria for pre season. #lufc pic.twitter.com/HbEn0cmWUV
— Adam Pope (@apopey) July 6, 2019
Also incoming have been Mathias Jensen from Celta Vigo, Christian Nörgaard from Fiorentina, goalkeeper David Raya from Blackburn, and Ethan Pinnock from Barnsley – all for around £3 million.
Those outgoings of £18 million have been partly financed by the sales of Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa (£12 million), Daniel Bentley to Bristol City (£2 million) and reportedly soon-to-be Romaine Sawyers to West Brom for around £3 million.
But more importantly, they have, to date, been able to keep hold of star players Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins – both crucial to the way manager Thomas Frank wants his side to play – although such is the club’s ability to discover new talent, they will likely have players ready to fill those voids should they occur.
With the club due to move into a new, purpose-built stadium next summer, the Bees are in great shape and, while top two may be a big ask, they have a serious chance of top six and maybe a playoff win.
After missing out in heartbreaking circumstances last season but having managed to retain the services of legendary Argentinian manager Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds’ time must finally have arrived.
— Farzad Golestan (@GLFarzad) May 16, 2019
For the majority of last season, Leeds looked certain for promotion, with Norwich and Sheffield United scrapping it out for the second automatic promotion spot, but a run-in in which they lost five of their last ten games saw them miss out on top two. There was also the small matter of what became known as Spygate. Worse was to come when they narrowly lost their playoff semifinal with Derby from a winning position.
“Leeds are falling apart again” is the now-regular refrain, which reflects the club’s recent habit of implosion, but after 15 seasons outside the top flight we think this is the season when it all finally comes together.
Bielsa has refreshed his squad and in the form of a season-long loan of Wolves winger Hélder Costa has made arguably one of the signings of the summer.
With the pain of going so agonizingly close last season still fresh, we can’t see the Yorkshire team missing out again, and can see them winning the league.
Our picks: 1st: Leeds (+175), 2nd: West Brom (+300), Promoted via playoffs: Brentford (+500)