Possible Surprise EFL Championship Promotion Contenders

As the 2021-22 EFL Championship campaign edges closer, clubs are busily preparing themselves to be as competitive as possible. Managers are evaluating their squads during pre-season, weighing up their options regarding players they might wish to sell, along with scouring the transfer market for suitable reinforcements.

Following their descent from the Premier League last season, the early favourites for promotion back to the English elite are inevitable Fulham, West Brom, and Sheffield United. Consistently over the last decade or so, relegated teams have often gained promotion back to the top-flight at the first time of asking, which explains why oddsmakers are backing these three sides.

Nevertheless, there is always plenty of scope for surprises each season. That’s also why visiting SBO for the latest online betting site reviews is worthwhile. They compare the most popular online betting companies, rating each for the value of their odds, the range of markets offered, quality of customer support, plus many other metrics. Once armed with a wealth of great information, these are some of the betting outsiders you may want to follow carefully.


Arguably the biggest coup for Bournemouth was appointing Scott Parker as manager. Although he couldn’t keep Fulham in the Premier League last season, he was the man responsible for getting them there in the first place, albeit via the 2019-20 EFL Championship Playoffs. Providing the former England midfielder is given enough backing with the Cherries, there’s no reason why he can’t get them promoted this season.
Slightly behind the trio of recently relegated clubs in the betting stakes, Bournemouth are valued as genuine promotion candidates heading into the 2021-22 campaign, priced at 10/3 odds with most of the leading bookmakers. The core of the squad remains the same, although Emiliano Marcondes is an astute signing on a free transfer, with additional signings expected to follow before the transfer window closes.

Nottingham Forest

Last season was hugely disappointing for Nottingham Forest, as they finished the 2020-21 campaign closer to the relegation zone than promotion. However, under the ownership of Greek media mogul Evangelos Marinakis, this once great club certainly hasn’t lacked in ambition. If manager Chris Hughton can land the transfer targets he has in mind, per those highlighted by the Nottingham Post recently, they could become genuine promotion contenders.

This probably explains the relatively short 5/1 promotion odds offered by many bookmakers, because a few astute signings could really put them in the mix. The arrival of CEO Dane Murphy is also a strong statement of intent, with the American keen to lead this proud club towards a new golden era, with the immediate and most important priority being to rise out of the Championship at long last.


Regardless of their limited resources and relatively low expectations, Barnsley were arguably the biggest surprise package in the Championship last season, especially once French coach Valerien Ismael took the helm. After sparking a complete turnaround in fortunes, he guided the Tykes to the playoffs and the cusp of an unlikely promotion. However, he has since been lured away to manage West Bromwich Albion.

Barnsley appointed former Austria international Markus Schopp as new head coach, hopeful they can once again achieve the impossible. He has already done that managing TSV Hartberg, defying all the odds to get them into Europe for the first time in the club’s history. While the Tykes are considered 6/1 outsiders for promotion with most bookies, following several interesting signings and with Schopp in charge, they will certainly be worth following carefully this season.

Best of the Rest

Considering how close they have come in each of the last two seasons, it would be remiss to ignore Welsh ambitions at Cardiff City and Swansea City. Both clubs have been highly active in the summer transfer window thus far, so they should be there or thereabouts in the final Championship standings.

As for potential dark horses with lengthy odds for promotion, look no further than Birmingham City, whose promotion odds range between 10/2 and 12/1 depending which bookies you choose. Lee Bowyer saved the team from the jaws of relegation to League One last season, although he will now have his sights firmly set on loftier objectives this term. The Blues might well be hovering with intent around the playoff zone, come the sharp end of the season.

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