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Is the English Premier League a Closed Shop?

Soccer BettingThere has been a growing voice in football that leans towards the suggestion that promotion to the Premier League is becoming a closed shop. This basically means that only a certain number of teams can possibly have a chance at getting to the “promised land” of the Premier League and that it is the teams that come down that are more than likely to jump straight back up again. The reason often cited for this is the parachute payments that these teams receive give them a huge advantage over the rest of the field.

This is not the case at all and this season could see some of the less fancied teams or underdogs, if you like, push themselves into the promotion picture. Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds and Norwich were all expected to feature in some sort of promotion race. Wolves and Villa are currently meeting this pre-season’s expectations but the Championship always throws up a surprise or two.

When Neil Warnock took charge of Cardiff, his expertise in this division led many people to think that the Bluebirds might have an outside chance at the playoffs, but they have exceeded all expectations, again proving that no one should write off a Warnock side. He has the ability to get the best out of his players and has done just that again here. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was summer signing from League One Rochdale and he has, with Warnock’s guidance, made the jump look easy and keeping Zenneth Zohore has also helped the team.

Zohore playing for Cardiff City by Jon Candy (CC SA-BY 2.0)

Another of the surprise packages so far have been Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United. The Blades won the League One title last season and although no one could see them going back down, to find them in the promotion hunt is still a massive shock and testament to the work of a manager who has worked his way up the football league ladder. Such is the club’s rise that Championship betting markets have them at 7/4 for promotion this season which, if achieved, would see them return to the English top flight for the first time since 2006/07.

Bristol City haven’t graced the top flight since 1979/80, yet they are another team that are surprising a few pundits. They had a poor season last term and there was much speculation that manager Lee Johnson would be dismissed, but the board kept faith and are being repaid so far this campaign. Helped by the goals of Bobby Reid, they are currently amongst the frontrunners and now it will be a case of trying to stay consistent for the Robins.

Lee Johnson managing Bristol City by Ben Sutherland (CC BY 2.0)

So there you have it, the promotion race is far from closed and if further evidence is needed then you only have to look back at the teams that have been promoted in the last few seasons. Last term saw Brighton return to the top tier for the first time since 1982/83 and Huddersfield for the first time since 1971/72 and a couple of years before Bournemouth made it to the Premier League for the first time in their history. Only time will tell if this season offers us another surprise in the end of season honours but looking at the last few years, you wouldn’t bet against it.

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