Sky Bet League One Season Preview Part 3

Here’s the third part of the club by club season preview – complete with official twitter accounts, hashtags and an at-a-glance guide to whether you club will be playing at Carlisle on a Tuesday night. All prices were taken from the Oddschecker site on 12th July.

Oldham Athletic (@OfficialOAFC) #oafc

Manager: Lee Johnson (since March 2013)

Promotion: 25/1

Relegation: evens

Where to start? How about losing the most games of the teams that weren’t relegated (only Bury and Hartlepool scored fewer goals), failing to score more than two goals away from home (something they’ve not done since March 2012) and spending all of last season in the bottom half of the table. A change of management did the trick last season, but Lee Johnson has his work cut out for him in 2013/14. Forget the FA Cup win over Liverpool: Oldham will struggle to avoid relegation.

Peterborough United (@theposhdotcom) #posh

Manager: Darren Ferguson (January 2011)

Promotion: 3/1

Relegation: 33/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no, but Carlisle visit London Road on Easter Monday

Heartbreakingly close to staying in the nPower Championship but in the end a very poor start to last season cost Posh dearly. It remains to be seen if the gung-ho attacking approach to League One football has been tempered by two seasons at a higher level, but Peterborough have both the history and the ability to suggest that an immediate return to the second tier is more likely than not.

Port Vale (@OfficialPVFC) #pvfc

Manager: Mickey Adams (since May 2011)

Promotion: 15/1

Relegation: 7/2

Back in the third tier after five seasons away, but here’s a word of warning for an overoptimistic Valiants fans: nine of the last 20 3rd placed finishers in League 2 have been relegated. That’s also emphasised by what happened in 2012/13: Port Vale started off well last season but actually only won nine games between the end of December and May. A bottom half finish without the threat of relegation is probably the best case scenario.

Preston North End (@pnefc) #pne

Manager: Simon Grayson (since February 2013)

Promotion: 5/1

Relegation: 16/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no, but Carlisle on a Boxing Day Thursday afternoon, which may actually be more worse or more fun depending on your outlook on life.

Did well in the cup competitions (lost to Coventry in the Northern Section semi final of the JPT) but had issues scoring away from Deepdale and to say that Graham Westley didn’t fit in would be an understatement. The days of competing in the Championship playoffs are a long time ago now, although it’s worth pointing out that it took Preston four seasons to escape the third tier last time they were relegated and Simon Grayson knows how to succeed at this level.

Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) #rufc

Manager: Steve Evans (since April 2012)

Promotion: 13/2

Relegation: 12/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

Finished strongly with five straight wins to clinch promotion back to League One for first time since 2007. Should finish comfortably mid table but may have a chance at the playoffs if they start strongly: were a Championship team less than a decade ago and their new stadium wouldn’t look out of place in the second tier. Could be a surprise package.

Sheffield United (@SUFC_tweets) #sufc

Manager: David Weir (since June 2013)

Promotion: 7/2

Relegation: 20/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no, but Carlisle visit Bramall Lane on Tuesday 11th March

League One’s sleeping giant drew far too many games last season – including six goalless draws at home – to be considered candidates for automatic promotion, but were tough to beat last season and will be again in 2013/14. However, the pressure for a return to the Championship will be on David Weir and although the Blades had better away records that Bournemouth and Yeovil, they only won two of their last ten games. Should definitely finish in the top ten: but will the weight of expectations cause another collapse?

Sky Bet League 1 Season Preview Part 2

Part 2 of our preview of the 2013/14 Sky Bet League One campaign. The odds were taken from the Oddschecker website on 9th July 2013 and will change throughout the season – even if you’re not a gambler, the changes are worth keeping an eye on as they will often indicate how well or badly a team is performing. Official twitter accounts and hashtags for each club are also provided, as well as a handy guide – which you won’t find anywhere else – to whether a team is playing at Carlisle on a Tuesday night 🙂

Crawley Town (@crawleytown) #crawleytown

Manager: Richie Barker (since August 2012)

Promotion: 13/1

Relegation: 4/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

2012/13 was a tale of three seasons: at the end of October, Crawley looked as if they might be playoff contenders, but three wins in a thirteen game period between November and early March ended any speculation. However there were encouraging signs at the end of the season – two defeats in their last ten games indicates that the Red Devils won’t struggle in 2013/14.

Crewe Alexandra (@crewealexfc) #crewalex

Manager: Steve Davis (since November 2012)

Promotion: 12/1

Relegation: 9/2

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: yes. The return is on New Year’s Day

Last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy winners finished 11 points off the playoffs in their first term back in League One for three seasons. If The Alex lose fewer games at Gresty Road and manage to keep more than two away clean sheets in 2013/14, they could be on course for the playoffs at the very least.

Gillingham (@TheGillsFC) #gillinghamfc

Manager: Martin Allen (since July 2012)

Promotion: 11/1

Relegation: 5/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

Very impressive return to third tier after a three season absence: were top of League 2 for almost the entire season but only won three of their last ten games – slightly worrying if that form carries over into this season’s campaign, but even if they aren’t able to reproduce last season’s away form they should still finish comfortably in mid table.

Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) #orient or #lofc

Manager: Russell Slade (since April 2012)

Promotion: 13/1

Relegation: 5/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

One of the most improved teams last season, although that progression was gradual and looked far from obvious after the Os lost six games in a seven game streak between the start of October and mid November. Another club that ended last season strongly and the playoffs aren’t out of the question if they continue to improve at the rate they did last season: the Matchroom Stadium has become a bit of a fortress and those odds look a bit skewed to me.

Milton Keynes Dons (@MKDonsFC) #MKDons

Manager: Karl Robinson (since May 2010)

Promotion: 4/1

Relegation: 25/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: yes, but Carlisle have to visit them on a Tuesday night

A below average and therefore slightly disappointing season for the Dons. Their best FA Cup run for over a decade was clearly on their minds as it coincided with a slump in their usually impressive away form. Even with the distraction, the Dons were defensively as good as they normally are and should be primed for a rebound. A playoff spot should be the least of their ambitions.

Notts County (@Official_NCFC) #notts or #nottscounty

Manager: Chris Kiwomya (since March 2013)

Promotion: 11/1

Relegation: 13/2

The early pacesetters in League One levelled off after a reasonable start. However, one win in ten games at Meadow Lane between October and January is probably what cost Keith Curle his job, although unrealistic expectations (not exactly unknown at Meadow Lane) may also have had something to do with it. Notts remained tough to beat on their travels so they could make an impact this season but don’t look like automatic promotion candidates.

Season Preview Part I

Here’s the first part of our club by club season previews for League One – the promotion and relegation prices were taken from the Oddschecker website on 2nd July 2013 and may have changed before publication – they’re worth checking throughout the season as the situation changes.

We’ve also included the details of the official twitter accounts and hashtags for each club.

Bradford City (@officialbantams) #bcafc

Manager: Phil Parkinson (since August 2011)

Promotion: 10/1

Relegation: 7/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

First season back in the third tier since 2007, but it will be tough for the Bantams to come with anything as dramatic as last season – which included being expelled from the FA Cup. Having reached the Capital One Cup Final, they put together an impressive late season run that culminated in the playoff win but mid-table looks like the best case scenario.

Brentford (@BrentfordFC) #brentfordfc

Manager: Uwe Rosler (since June 2011)

Promotion: 4/1

Relegation: 33/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

Last season’s beaten playoff finalists: with the arrival of some big names from the Championship you have to wonder if last season was their best chance of promotion. With the best home record in League 1 last season they should still be around the playoffs but the Bees drew far too many away games last season (including four of their last five) and that needs to change.

Bristol City (@bcfctweets) #bristolcity

Manager: Sean O’Driscoll (since January 2013)

Promotion: 7/2

Relegation: 25/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

City were horrible defensively last season – the most number of goals conceded in the four senior divisions of English football – and although there are hopes of an instant return to the Championship, the Robins aren’t exactly known as a yo-yo club. The last time Bristol City were promoted in the season immediately after they were relegated: 1923. They’re always capable of scoring at Ashton Gate, but the playoffs may be the best case scenario this season.

Carlisle United (@ officialcufc) #carlisleutd

Manager: Greg Abbott (since December 2008)

Promotion: 15/1

Relegation: 9/4

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: highly likely!

Gregg Abbott is the longest serving boss in League 1, but he’s got his work cut out for him this season as Carlisle finished in their lowest league position since they escaped relegation by a point in 2009. Defensively the Cumbrians were all over the place, keeping only seven clean sheets all season and conceding two or more goals at Brunton Park in 13 of their 23 home games. A relegation scrap is a possibility.

Colchester United (@ColU_Official) #colu

Manager: Joe Dunne (since September 2012)

Promotion: 25/1

Relegation: 7/4

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no

Spent the entire season in the bottom half of the table and were the only team in League One to be knocked out of all three cup competitions at the first possible opportunity. Not only that, the Us lost the most games of teams that weren’t relegated and only scored more than two goals at the Weston Community Homes stadium in one game. A massive improvement is needed in order to avoid relegation.

Coventry City (@Coventry_City) #SkyBlues

Manager: Steven Pressley (since March 2013)

Promotion: 8/1

Relegation: 8/1

Carlisle on a Tuesday night: no, but no Coventry on a Tuesday night either.

The ten point deduction that effectively ended any chances of promotion was bad enough, but Coventry won’t be playing at the Ricoh Arena this season, having relocated to Northampton under controversial circumstances. If they can maintain last season’s away form – one defeat in 12 games between the end of October and mid-March – Coventry should be fine. If not, who knows? Worst case scenario: Luton Town Mark II.

Part 2 will follow before the end of the week.

Sky Bet Replaces nPower As Main Sponsor

The official announcement is here, but after three seasons of the competition being called the nPower Football league, Sky Bet have taken over the role of title sponsor.

I’m trying hard not to be too cynical here, but this decision is based on two factors. Firstly, with Sky Sports monopoly of televised football being ended with the deal that gives BT Sport a handful of Premier League matches but all of the rights to Aviva Premiership rugby union games, Sky’s football coverage needs to expand.

Secondly – as is demonstrated in the first couple of paragraphs of the press release – this decision is about increasing brand awareness and use of Sky Bet, which is another way of saying that Rupert Murdoch wants your money.

Sky Bet’s managing director Richard Flint’s comment that ‘…in the past fans would go into a betting shop on the way to the ground’ was probably true as recently as the late 1990s, but the arrival of Betfair changed the betting landscape forever. The emphasis on mobile apps is basically an acknowledgement that Sky Bet are targetting younger, tech savvy users rather than ‘traditional’ punters.

Although I’m happy to welcome any move that increases the promotion of the Football League as an alternative to the rich man’s playground that the Premier League has become, I’d also like to point out that other betting companies are available and that Sky Bet’s prices are not always the best – it’s always worth remembering that if you want to buy a pair of shoes, you’re not limited to just one shop.

All that remains is the inevitable embarrasing advertising campaign, which will probably emerge over the next couple of weeks. However, more exciting than that is the news that next week I’ll be publishing the first part of the season preview!

(This article was originally posted on our sister site

Kevin MacDonald Leaves Swindon

The first managerial casualty of the season: Swindon Town and Kevin MacDonald have parted company after only 14 games.

MacDonald took over from Paolo di Canio in February, but even though the Robins reached the playoffs it’s probably fair to say that it was the impetus Town achieved under MacDonald’s predecessor that took them to the post season.

Swindon now have three weeks to find a replacement – assistant manager Mark Cooper has taken over at the County Ground for the time being.

Sheffield United v Notts County Will Kick Off The New Season

Good news for nPower League One fans: the first game of the football league season will feature Notts County’s trip to Bramall Lane (Friday 2nd August, Sky Sports 1 7:00pm – kick off 7:45pm).

Other games featuring League One clubs that will be televised over the coming months:

Monday 5th August: Preston v Blackpool (Capital One Cup, 7:45pm)

Friday 23rd August: Wolves v Crawley (7:45pm)

Monday 9th September: Preston v Oldham (7:45pm)