Fixtures and results so far
Reserve team fixtures
Youth team fixtures
Al Wilkinson's poetry
The Meek that was
Stats and analysis
Man of the match awards
The season in pictures
Euro 2004 preview
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Odds and sods
7 August 2003
Grimsby Town's opening game of the season at Plymouth Argyle is, at the time of writing, just a couple of days away. So that doesn't leave us much time to take advantage of the best odds being offered for the Mariners being promoted this year. Town went straight back up last time, albeit via the play-offs. Many of the fans think we can do the same this year but what do the bookies think?
They're not convinced, is the short answer. Grimsby are joint seventh favourites for promotion. The odds on offer vary greatly too. For Grimsby winning the Division Two title Bet365 (a site I use a lot) will give you just 14/1. That's crap. High-street bookies such as William Hill and Ladbrokes are offering 16/1, which is better - but still not as good as the 25/1 available at places such as Totalbet and Coral. Remember that you can get three places on these bets at one-quarter odds, so a fiver each way at Totalbet on Town to win Division Two will return £166.25 if Grimsby win the league and £41.25 if we finish in the top three. None too shabby that.
Looking at odds for promotion (including through the play-offs), Bet365 is offering a shitty 9/2 for the Mariners to return to Division One. Totalbet and Ukbetting are quoting 7/1 on this though and that looks like a much better bet.
As for our chances of going down again, not all the bookmakers are covering this market but some are. The odds on this vary from 6/1 (Totalbet) to 10/1 (Bet365). So as with our chances of winning the league, the bookies just can't agree.
A look at the odds for the rest of Division Two shows Premierbet giving 6/1 on Sheffield Wednesday for the title but somewhere between 9/2 and 11/2 is more commonly offered elsewhere. This puts them on a par with QPR, who you can get 7s on if you shop around. Bristol City, many pundits' tip for the title, are widely available at 8/1. The division's rank outsiders are Chesterfield at 100/1. As for odds on promotion, it is the three aforementioned teams that lead the betting with QPR just edging it as favourites. The odds are shite for any of those three to go up though, with nothing better than 2/1 available. I wouldn't bother with those if I were you.
The relegation odds make interesting reading. Most of the odds on offer are quite poor, with loads of teams shorter than 5/1. Favourites for relegation are of course Chesterfield, who are going at about evens.
In the Premiership, Manchester United are evens favourites for the title with Arsenal at 2/1. The odds on Chelsea are coming in daily as they continue their efforts to sign every player Roman Abramovich had the sticker for in last year's Panini Superstars album. The west Londoners are still available at 8s for the title if you get in quick. Relegation this year is a foregone conclusion, isn't it? The bookies think so, with Leicester being offered at around 1/2. Wolves are going at evens which I think is all right. Leeds at 7/1 for the drop is another attractive bet.
In the first division the odds for West Ham are drifting as the player exodus continues. Have the remaining players got the talent to bounce the Hammers back up to the top flight? West Ham are 3/1 favourites for the title so the bookies think they can do it. West Brom are second favourites with 6s the general price going. Walsall, Stoke and Crewe are all going for 150/1 and those three are the outsiders. In the relegation market it's 11/8 on Crewe and they are the bookies' favourites. Wimbledon, Walsall and Rotherham are also at that end of the market but at slightly more attractive odds. In the promotion market it is West Ham, again, who are odds-on favourites.
Looking at the basement division, it's Hull out in front at 4s for the title there, Northampton at 7/1 being the second favourites. Rather surprisingly, Yeovil are only 10/1 for the title. York and Macclesfield head the relegation stakes at 4/1 each but William Hill will give you 7/1 on the latter being in the Conference next year. Hull, of course, lead the promotion market as odds-on favourites.
So that's the round-up, but where do I think the value is? I'm going to stick my neck out here and have a few bets on these markets. Below are my pre-season bets for England:
2pts Wolves to be relegated @ 1/1 (William Hill)
0.5pts Leeds to be relegated @ 7/1 (Ladbrokes)
0.5pts e-w Sheff Utd to win Division 1 @ 10/1 (Coral)
1pt Bradford to be relegated @ 2/1 (William Hill)
2pts Grimsby to be promoted @ 7/1 (Totalbet)
0.5pts e-w Grimsby winning Division 2 @ 25/1 (Totalbet)
0.5pts Peterborough to be relegated @ 9/4 (Totalbet)
0.5pts Bury to be promoted @ 7/1 (William Hill)
0.5pts Northampton to win Division 3 @ 7/1 (Ladbrokes)
0.5pts Carlisle to be relegated @ 6/1 (Skybet)
0.5pts Macclesfield to be relegated @ 7/1 (William Hill)
Good luck to you all if you decide to put on any bets this season. And up the Mariners, especially as I have backed them to win the title.