Football League: Leicester and all other ups and downs

Nigel Pearson's Leicester will surely be Championship winners, but who else is being promoted and relegated this season?

With Leicester two wins away from Premier League promotion, Michael Lintorn examines every impending Football League up and down...

"QPR and Derby should be too clear to be caught, while Wigan are unlikely to slide out after grafting so hard to get in. That trio are 3.7511/4, 3.55/2 and 3.65 for promotion."


The title race
Leicester's 2-0 triumph at second-placed Burnley and draw at Wigan gives them a seven-point lead with seven to play to rate them 1.041/25 title near certainties. With the Foxes 16 clear of Derby in third and Burnley having a nine-point buffer, the top two appears locked out, with the Clarets 1.141/7 to go up.

The other promotion hopefuls
None of the play-off positioned teams - QPR (70 points), Derby (69), Wigan (64) and Reading (60) - are in great form, offering hope to those on the outskirts. QPR and Derby should be too clear to be caught, while Wigan are unlikely to slide out after grafting so hard to get in. That trio are 3.7511/4, 3.55/2 and 3.65 for promotion. Those trying to catch 9.28/1 shots Reading on 60 points are managerless Nottingham Forest (58 points), Ipswich (58), Brighton (57), Bournemouth (55), Blackburn (53) and Watford (52 and a game in hand).

The battle at the bottom
The odds suggest that the bottom-three spots are as sewn up as the top two, with Yeovil, Millwall and Barnsley looking every inch the three to fall at 1.081/12, 1.121/8 and 1.261/4. Their respective tallies of 32, 33 and 35 points put distance between them and 21st-placed Charlton, who have 38 points and a game in hand on Barnsley and two on Yeovil and Millwall. Charlton are 6.411/2 to drop, with out-of-form Birmingham judged more vulnerable at 4.67/2 despite their 40-point tally due to ten losses in 15.

League One

The title race
There are only really two horses in the League One title tussle. The 1.211/5 favourites are Wolves, whose 87 points from 40 matches grant them a genuine chance of a 100-point season. Brentford are six points back with a game in hand and inferior goal difference, causing them to be priced at 5.95/1.

The other promotion hopefuls
While Wolves should be fine, Brentford's 81 points haven't shooed away all competition for second. Leyton Orient and Preston are on 76 and 75 having played one more, but Rotherham's haul of 75 with seven to play will worry them most: Steve Evans' Millers are the sole unbeaten side over the last 15 fixtures and have gained eight points on the Bees in that period. They are 3.39/4 to complete successive promotions. Just one play-off place appears open to pilfering. Sixth belongs to Peterborough with 58 points, though Swindon (57), Walsall (56), MK Dons (55) and Port Vale (54) are all within shooting range. Posh's two games in hand on the lot should see them through barring any Wembley hangover after lifting the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, and they are 5.04/1 for a Championship return.

The battle at the bottom
The League One relegation fight is a glorious free-for-all, with two points dividing the bottom six and everyone from Bradford in 12th on 49 points down remaining in danger. Shrewsbury (38 points) and Stevenage (39) are the only clubs even marginally adrift, but have lost a mere two in six and two in ten respectively. Notts County, Tranmere, Carlisle and Crewe all have 40 points, yet tumbling teams like Colchester on 43 will fear being among the four to fall just as much. Punters still view Shrewsbury and Stevenage as favourites at around 1.331/3, with Colchester seeming the value option at 5.04/1.

League Two

The title race
With six matches left, three sides still look like viable champions in a twist-heavy campaign. Setting the pace on 74 points are Rochdale, who rose to the top in March and are 2.021/1 to stay there. Scunthorpe have plenty of momentum on 72 points due to a 24-game undefeated run, though ten draws in their last 15 outings could deny them the title at 2.8615/8. The club that seemed likely winners for much of the season, Chesterfield, have tailed off on 70 points, yet are 7.26/1 to find a second wind.

The other promotion hopefuls
Scunthorpe and Chesterfield are seven and five points above joint-fourth duo Fleetwood and Burton, so will be confident of securing automatic promotion even if first place eludes them. They are 1.041/25 and 1.21/5 to ascend a division, with Fleetwood and Burton a chunkier 2.829/5 and 3.052/1 on account of the fact that they are probably heading down the play-off route. Southend and Oxford (59 points apiece) are currently pencilled in to join them, but York - tastily priced at 7.06/1 for promotion - only trail Oxford on goals scored and have taken 27 of the last 33 points offered to them. Plymouth (55 points with a game in hand) and Dagenham (54 points) are also in contention.

The battle at the bottom
Seven points from safety with six matches to go, Torquay appear to have claimed one of the two relegation vacancies at 1.031/33, especially after nine losses in 12. At one stage, half of the division looked to be in jeopardy of seizing the other spot. However, Northampton (40 points - one victory in eight) and Wycombe (43 points - three successes in 19) win so rarely that it could just come down to them. The Cobblers, who are in the better form of the pair but must still visit Wycombe, are 1.75/7 to be demoted, with the Chairboys 3.814/5. If both rally, the likes of Portsmouth (45 points), Bristol Rovers (46) and Exeter (47) face a nervy finale.

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