Football

Championship: Promotion Contenders

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Can Redknapp & Adkins lead their sides back to the Premier League? (©GettyImages)
Can Redknapp & Adkins lead their sides back to the Premier League? (©GettyImages).

The riches of the Premier League are doubtless - even a single season ending in relegation can bring in over £120 million to a club, including increased ticket sales, merchandise, TV payments, sponsorship, and parachute payments upon relegation. 

This year contenders for promotion will be looking to earn a club-transforming prize which could sustain them in the BPL for many years to come. 

The Championship is always difficult to predict, but here are some of the clubs most likely to become Premier League teams next season:

Queens Park Rangers

Harry Redknapp is certainly a manager who knows how to get into the Premier League, having completed the feat with Portsmouth, but he hasn't managed in a second tier match since he was the Southampton boss in 2005. 

His current team certainly have the quality to go straight back up, but the departures of Loic Remy, Jamie Mackie and Adel Taraabt, the Moroccan midfielder who lit up the division during QPR's last promotion campaign, could make it difficult to repeat the success of three seasons ago. 

A good start is vital for a side which, at times last year, looked to have given up hope.

Reading

Following a disappointing attempt to remain in the top flight, Reading will be hopeful that they can bounce straight back. 

Manager Nigel Adkins has already made some smart signings, adding former England international defender Wayne Bridge and the mercurial midfielder Royston Drenthe to his squad, and has managed to shift 15 senior players from the wage bill. 

But, much like QPR, low confidence could strike should results come slowly at the beginning of the season.

Leicester

Last year Leicester were rightfully among the favourites for automatic promotion, but a poor second half of the season saw them slip into sixth place and then fail to reach the play-off final.

If their early season form had been maintained they could have easily finished within the top two, and the quality in their squad certainly merited that, and so Foxes fans will be hopeful for a better finish than last year.

However, only Zoumane Bakayogo, formerly of Tranmere Rovers, has joined the club this summer due to FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations that have come into effect, so whilst other teams strengthen their squads Leicester can do nothing but hope that they don't get left behind.

Watford

Gianfranco Zola's Watford were the side that beat Leicester to the play-off final last year, but last-minute heartbreak means that they are back where they started for this year's campaign. 

In a stark contrast to their semi-final opponents, though, Watford have been one of the busiest teams in the transfer market, utilising their sister clubs Udinese and Granada to bring in 11 permanent deals this summer, including Italian international Diego Fabbrini and former Real Madrid B striker Javi Acuna. 

Whilst expectations were low in a season of change last year, only time will tell what effect promotion hopes will have on the club this campaign.

Wigan

The third side on this list to be relegated from the Premier League last year, Wigan were the bookies least preferred of the relegated sides to go straight back up. However, with the £2 million signing of Grant Holt this summer, and a largely high quality midfield so far intact, Wigan may well be a force to be reckoned with in 2013/14. 

Owen Coyle is an experienced manager who certainly has the ability to take Wigan up, but should the key playmakers Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman and James McArthur leave, a season of disappointment could well be on the cards.

Nottingham Forest

The form of Nottingham Forest upon the return of former manager Billy Davies was frightening in the run-up to the play-offs, and had they made sixth place they would have surely been the most likely team to go all the way. 

But it wasn't to be on the final day and Forest had to settle for finishing agonisingly close to their Midlands rivals Leicester in the hunt for the play-offs. Another team busy in the transfer market, the Reds have added Algerian winger Djamel Abdoun to their squad for a reported £1.55 million, as well as experienced midfielder Jamie Mackie from QPR. 

Should their form from last season roll over into this campaign, expect them to make an explosive start.

Bolton

There is no doubt as to the quality of Bolton's side this year, having Premier League experience in the form of Chris Eagles, David N'Gog and Jermaine Beckford in attack, as well as a host of others across the field from their time in the top flight only two years ago. 

Another team with electric form in last year's run-in, play-off rivals would have been glad that the Trotters fell just a point short of Leicester City, as any team with momentum going into the play-offs is in with a big chance of promotion.

Again, if they can carry their form over into the new season, they could set themselves up for a season of great success.

 

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Topics:
Queens Park Rangers
Championship
Wigan Athletic
Nottingham Forest
Premier League
Football
Watford
Reading
Bolton Wanderers
Leicester City
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