2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

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2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby The Lone Gunman » Sun May 30, 2021 9:48 am

“ 2020/21 : the most predictable Championship on record? “


Each year before the football season begins, I get myself a copy of the Racing Post's annual Big Kick-Off publication. This excellent 72-page betting guide is free with the paper on the Tuesday before the campaign starts and covers all the major UK and European leagues. It's always interesting to look back at the bookmakers' pre-season prices after a campaign has finished and it turns out the big firms were pretty much spot on with their 2020/21 Championship predictions.

The three clear pre-season favourites for promotion were Watford (15/8), Norwich (9/4) and Brentford (9/4). Meanwhile, the clear favourites for relegation were Wycombe (1/2), Sheffield Wednesday (15/8) and Rotherham (2/1).

I've looked back at the pre-season prices for the previous five years and this hasn't even been close to happening before during that time. In 2019/20, the two favourites for promotion, Leeds and Fulham, did manage to go up, but the third-favourites (Cardiff City) failed to get promoted. Meanwhile, the prices for relegation were far more congested and only one of the three favourites (Charlton) ended up going down.

During the other four years the picture was much more mixed, with some genuine long shots gaining promotion (such as Norwich and Sheffield United in 2018/19, Cardiff in 2017/18 and Huddersfield in 2016/17), and some equally surprising relegations (for instance, Sunderland in 2017/18 and Wigan in 2016/17).

In terms of the pre-season prices for 2020/21, the biggest under-achievers were Nottingham Forest, who were generally priced to finish 5th or 6th, and Derby County, who were expected to finish 9th or 10th. Meanwhile, the major over-achievers were Barnsley, who were 16th in most bookies' lists, and Reading, who were priced to finish as low as 19th or 20th. The rest of the division ended up pretty much as expected. For instance, Cardiff were priced to finish 7th, Middlesbrough were expected to end up 10th, Millwall 11th, Preston 13th and Blackburn 15th.

In my opinion, the play-offs perfectly encapsulated what I believe was a seriously poor-quality Championship in 2020/21. Brentford, who were easily the third-best side in the division, eventually prevailed with something to spare. Bournemouth's squad contained plenty of obvious talent, but the Cherries rarely looked like they had the stomach for the fight, as demonstrated during the second leg of their semi-final. Meanwhile, a desperately ordinary Swansea side were able to maintain a top-six place from the early weeks of the campaign but were comfortably beaten by Brentford in the end, while Barnsley performed admirably to earn a play-off spot but clearly lacked genuine ability.

Thanks to the pandemic, I ended up watching more Championship football than usual during 2020/21 and much of it was poor fare. Most of the teams in the division looked weak by usual standards and very few individual players stood out. No doubt a lack of spectators had an effect on the overall quality of the entertainment, but by and large the football was grim. To me at least, the gap between the Premier League and the second tier has never looked bigger.

Hopefully, the circumstances created by Covid-19 will shake things up a bit during the coming months in terms of the transfer market and the football in the Championship in 2021/22 will not only improve, but the markets for promotion and relegation will be far more difficult for the bookmakers to predict.
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2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby pembroke allan » Sun May 30, 2021 11:24 am

Maybe its relegated clubs learning lesson that if want promotion at 1st attempt you need keep manager and the squad like top 2 did ? If recently relegated clubs do same promotion for rest of championship clubs is going to be tough especially with cutbacks meaning relegated clubs can cherry pick the best players with better wages ...
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby Sven » Sun May 30, 2021 12:01 pm

Always a good read and informative :clap: :ayatollah:
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby worcester_ccfc » Sun May 30, 2021 12:07 pm

Very good post, as usual.

Here's my take on why I believe it's been predictable.


I highlighted this a few weeks ago, and it's even more correct now that Brentford have won the play-offs.

In my view, the biggest factor was the fact there were no supporters in stadiums for the vast majority of the season. Some clubs didn't have any fans in the stadium all season.

The best quality teams will always have an advantage without playing in the sometimes difficult atmosphere in front of opposition supporters and under pressure from their own supporters in the stadium.

In empty stadiums, there are few distractions to stop the best teams from flourishing. The example I'd use is when beat Manchester City. If the stadium was empty that day, I'm sure they would have won comfortably.

It's not just the Championship either.

You would have predicted before the season started that Manchester City would win the Premier League. The same goes for Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea finishing in the top four. Same with Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham going down.


Most would have thought Hull and Peterborough had a good chance of going up this season as well as Blackpool, if they get the job done today.

Cheltenham, Cambridge and Bolton were all expected to do well this season in League Two and they all got automatic promotion. Newport were also likely to be up there.


The two who would buck the trend would be Morecambe and Lincoln.



In the top four tiers, it has gone as expected.

As I say, the biggest factor in my opinion is the lack of fans in stadiums. I would expect it to be a lot less predictable next season.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby The Lone Gunman » Sun May 30, 2021 12:34 pm

worcester_ccfc wrote:Very good post, as usual.


Thanks, appreciate it.

The situation with Sheffield United was interesting. They did so well in 2019/20 and weren't expected by the bookmakers to struggle in 2020/21, but they got off to a really poor start, had some bad luck along the way and seemed to be the worst affected by having no fans present. Before the season began they were expected to finish 14th and you could have got 16/1 on them finishing bottom. West Brom and Fulham were the clear favourites for relegation, but the next in the betting were Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

In League One, the favourites for promotion were Sunderland, Peterborough, Porstmouth and Oxford. Only Peterborough obliged. Champions Hull were expected to finish 7th.

Meanwhile, the League Two pre-season favourites for promotion were Bolton, Salford, Mansfield and Exeter. Bolton succeeded after a poor start, but the other three didn't even make the play-offs. Cambridge, who eventually finished second, were as low as 19th and 20th in the bookies' lists and were available at 10/1 for promotion.

The Championship was the only division the bookmakers got spot on this season and, judging by the back editions of the Racing Post's Big Kick-Off that I've managed to keep, they've never got all of the promoted and relegated sides right before.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby Always City » Sun May 30, 2021 1:23 pm

Great to have you back on here Tlg, someone who always talks a lot of sense :thumbright: :thumbright:
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby oohahhPaulMillar » Sun May 30, 2021 2:05 pm

Excellent post and a good read:-

To emphasise that it was a fairly predictable championship these are the bets I had which I posted on this forum on 4/9/2020 before the start of the season

A nice profit and a couple of near misses as well which would have made it even bigger

The bet in Troy Parrot however was probably one of the worst bets in history

Championship betting selections
Postby oohahhPaulMillar » Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:28 pm
For anyone interested these are the bets I have done for this season

Outright Norwich 7/1 £50 eway

Top 6 finish Norwich 8/11 £80 win

Top 6 finish Bluebirds 5/2 £50 win

Top team total goalscorers Norwich 8/1 £15 win

Top goal scorer Troy Parrott 33/1 £5 eway

Top half finish Blackburn 11/10 £25 win

1 Premier league bet Sheff Utd to be relegated 9/2 £40 win


For any big hitters out there City at 4/7 for a top half finish is outstanding value
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby Big Hill Blue » Sun May 30, 2021 4:54 pm

Excellent post indeed...I just think they got lucky with their predictions :)
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby stickywicket » Sun May 30, 2021 10:08 pm

Big Hill Blue wrote:Excellent post indeed...I just think they got lucky with their predictions :)

Not being a betting man, I was going for the 3 relegated clubs to go straight back up. The Mepham sending off was a major influence on this not happening.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby TopCat CCFC » Sun May 30, 2021 10:43 pm

Good post TLG - Your spot on with this season v odds at the start and the RP give a good preview to each season .
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby The Lone Gunman » Mon May 31, 2021 9:11 am

stickywicket wrote:
Big Hill Blue wrote:Excellent post indeed...I just think they got lucky with their predictions :)

Not being a betting man, I was going for the 3 relegated clubs to go straight back up. The Mepham sending off was a major influence on this not happening.


You may be right, but to me Bournemouth rarely looked up for the fight. They had plenty of genuine talent in their squad but had a soft underbelly. That showed quite clearly in their home game against City. Bournemouth finished 10 points behind Brentford and 14 points short of automatic promotion. They lost 13 games by comparison to 7 for Norwich and Brentford, and 8 for Watford.

I suspect having three managers in less than 12 months didn't help Bournemouth's cause and I don't rate Woodgate at all, but if they can hang on to the majority of their better players they should be a force in the division next season. They're currently fourth favourites behind the three relegated sides.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby Sven » Mon May 31, 2021 1:20 pm

The Lone Gunman wrote:
stickywicket wrote:
Big Hill Blue wrote:Excellent post indeed...I just think they got lucky with their predictions :)

Not being a betting man, I was going for the 3 relegated clubs to go straight back up. The Mepham sending off was a major influence on this not happening.


You may be right, but to me Bournemouth rarely looked up for the fight. They had plenty of genuine talent in their squad but had a soft underbelly. That showed quite clearly in their home game against City. Bournemouth finished 10 points behind Brentford and 14 points short of automatic promotion. They lost 13 games by comparison to 7 for Norwich and Brentford, and 8 for Watford.

I suspect having three managers in less than 12 months didn't help Bournemouth's cause and I don't rate Woodgate at all, but if they can hang on to the majority of their better players they should be a force in the division next season. They're currently fourth favourites behind the three relegated sides.

I think you're right; Bournemouth looked a little 'soft' at times but the Mepham sending off was a key moment at the end

You have to favour the three relegated sides next season but I have a feeing that Sheffield United would be the one to miss out, if any
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby pembroke allan » Mon May 31, 2021 1:52 pm

Sven wrote:
The Lone Gunman wrote:
stickywicket wrote:
Big Hill Blue wrote:Excellent post indeed...I just think they got lucky with their predictions :)

Not being a betting man, I was going for the 3 relegated clubs to go straight back up. The Mepham sending off was a major influence on this not happening.


You may be right, but to me Bournemouth rarely looked up for the fight. They had plenty of genuine talent in their squad but had a soft underbelly. That showed quite clearly in their home game against City. Bournemouth finished 10 points behind Brentford and 14 points short of automatic promotion. They lost 13 games by comparison to 7 for Norwich and Brentford, and 8 for Watford.

I suspect having three managers in less than 12 months didn't help Bournemouth's cause and I don't rate Woodgate at all, but if they can hang on to the majority of their better players they should be a force in the division next season. They're currently fourth favourites behind the three relegated sides.

I think you're right; Bournemouth looked a little 'soft' at times but the Mepham sending off was a key moment at the end

You have to favour the three relegated sides next season but I have a feeing that Sheffield United would be the one to miss out, if any



2 reasons why the relegated clubs will be the top 2 favourites? Wages to high for other championship clubs to pay so relegated clubs wont shift players so same squad basically. And 2nd relegated clubs can cherry pick best available players with parachute payments towards wages.... going to be hard for majority of championship clubs to compete if relegated teams keep squads together..... but if any going to fail agree shef u is the one.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby Danny Says » Mon May 31, 2021 5:03 pm

“Desperately ordinary” is an apposite description of the vast majority of the Championship teams not just swansea.
It may be traditional for objective pundits and fans to describe it as a topsy turvey sort of league and unpredictable when top can beat bottom etc but for me last season was one of the most average, dull and unexciting Championship seasons ever.
Whatever the reason for that in my opinion the Covid effect on the stadiums stood out as the pivotal reason.
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Re: 2020/21: the most predictable Championship on record?

Postby maccydee » Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:41 pm

worcester_ccfc wrote:Very good post, as usual.

Here's my take on why I believe it's been predictable.


I highlighted this a few weeks ago, and it's even more correct now that Brentford have won the play-offs.

In my view, the biggest factor was the fact there were no supporters in stadiums for the vast majority of the season. Some clubs didn't have any fans in the stadium all season.

The best quality teams will always have an advantage without playing in the sometimes difficult atmosphere in front of opposition supporters and under pressure from their own supporters in the stadium.

In empty stadiums, there are few distractions to stop the best teams from flourishing. The example I'd use is when beat Manchester City. If the stadium was empty that day, I'm sure they would have won comfortably.

It's not just the Championship either.

You would have predicted before the season started that Manchester City would win the Premier League. The same goes for Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea finishing in the top four. Same with Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham going down.


Most would have thought Hull and Peterborough had a good chance of going up this season as well as Blackpool, if they get the job done today.

Cheltenham, Cambridge and Bolton were all expected to do well this season in League Two and they all got automatic promotion. Newport were also likely to be up there.


The two who would buck the trend would be Morecambe and Lincoln.



In the top four tiers, it has gone as expected.

As I say, the biggest factor in my opinion is the lack of fans in stadiums. I would expect it to be a lot less predictable next season.


But the premier league had lots of mad results this year.

Liverpool lost various games at home and to Villa away 7-2.

Maybe the levels are closer at premier league level.
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