QPR clear favourites as football returns

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Punters don’t have long to wait now for the return of some domestic football, with the start of the new season for everyone but the Conference and Premier League just over a week away.

For those teams in the Championship, it’s the beginning of a gruelling 46-match battle to tap into the riches of the top flight and it’s a couple of teams that have just dropped down from there that bookies believe have the best chance of gaining promotion.

QPR spent big and appointed Harry Redknapp in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to avoid relegation but they aren’t expected to be down for long, BetVictor rating Rangers as clear favourites at 6/1 to secure the Championship title.

Reading came down with Redknapp’s charges and are William Hill’s, tempting 9/1 shots to top the pile, slightly shorter than the 10/1 that bet365 chalk against Bolton, who ended last season strongly and are expected to kick-on this term.

Similarly, following the return of Billy Davies as manager, Nottingham Forest significantly improved, narrowly missing out on a play-off place and they’re 11/1 courtesy of Ladbrokes to finish first while Leicester are also at 11/1, this time with Stan James, who offer 12/1 about FA Cup winners Wigan and losing play-off finalists Watford are 12/1 via BetVictor.

Finally, punters expecting things at Blackburn to finally settle down can back them at 20/1 with Winner.com, a price that’s not entirely unappealing from an each-way perspective.

At the bottom, it’s easy to see Yeovil finding the going tough, hence betway’s 21/20 for them to drop straight back into League One and it could also be a long campaign for Doncaster (5/2, BetVictor).

In the third tier, Wolves are clear title favourites, Skybet quoting them at 4/1 to be crowned League One champions but under new boss David Weir, Sheffield United might give punters a decent run for their money – they’re a touch overpriced at 10/1 (bet365) and also catch the eye at 7/2 with Skybet to go up.

At the other end, you have to fear for Shrewsbury and Colchester at 15/8 and 2/1 to be relegated respectively, thanks to BetVictor.

Despite the financial woes that have seen them slide down the whole league ladder, Portsmouth are tipped to make light work of League Two, bet365 chalking them up at 9/2 to clinch first place.

Quoting them at 8/1 apiece, Stan James believe Chesterfield and Fleetwood will be Pompey’s nearest rivals and Accrington are the value call in the relegation betting at 9/2 courtesy of Ladbrokes.

North of the border, Celtic are no better than 1/40 (betway) to retain the SPL crown but it’s in the market without the Old Firm giants that the real interest is.

Stan James offer 11/4 about Aberdeen emerging from the pack to finish second and BetVictor make Motherwell 10/3. It’s hardly surprising, meanwhile, to see financially stricken Hearts installed as odds-on favourites at 4/7 by Paddy Power to finish bottom of the pile.

After their facile second Test triumph against Australia at Lords, England are just 1/33 at bet365 to convert their 2-0 lead into an overall Ashes success.

The series moves to Old Trafford in a couple of week’s time and the hosts have enough momentum now to justify odds-on quotes of 8/11 (BetVictor) although of course the English weather could yet play a part.

Victory in Manchester would clinch the series by giving Alistair Cook’s men an unassailable lead and with England already two for two, punters have been keen to get with a 5-0 series whitewash, now cut to 7/2 by Stan James.

Ian Bell’s form means he’s just 4/7 at Paddy Power to be England’s top series batsman while James Anderson (11/10, Stan James) and Graeme Swann (11/10, Ladbrokes) are both vying for the top bowler honour.

Chris Froome’s emphatic Tour de France success means bookies can’t see past him for next year’s event.

Subsequently, he’s odds-on at 7/10 courtesy of betway to retain his title in 12 months time.

It remains to be seen, meanwhile, whether Bradley Wiggins will race in the event again but you can be sure that if he makes the start line in Yorkshire in 2014, the Team Sky man won’t be priced at the current level of 25/1 with BetVictor.

Bet of the week: Sheffield United to gain promotion – 7/2 (Skybet)

Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com.