Championship Guide

Sky Sports' club-by-club guide to the Sky Bet Championship as we prepare for the big kick-off.

Last Updated: 05/08/13 at 11:53

The wait is over - this season's Championship could be one of the best yet!

The wait is over - this season's Championship could be one of the best yet!

All eyes will be on Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers when the Sky Bet Championship season kicks off.

Relegated Rangers have been installed as title favourites and undoubtedly have the talent in their squad to bounce straight back.

However, unless that talent is matched by the appetite for the battle ahead then the west Londoners could just as easily follow Wolves out of the division in the other direction.

Whether they race clear at the top, struggle at the bottom or flounder somewhere in between, there will rarely be a dull moment at Loftus Road.

Sky Bet Price Boosts

As the league's new sponsor, Sky Bet have boosted a range of prices on this season's Championship, including Barnsley to finish in the top half. See all price boosts on the Sky Bet Championship here.

The other two relegated clubs, Wigan and Reading - models of stability by comparison - appear in better shape to challenge for promotion.

The Latics, now managed by Owen Coyle who took Burnley up in 2009, have surely pulled off a masterstroke by landing Norwich marksman Grant Holt.

Reading still have much of the squad which secured promotion a year ago and also have a proven course and distance performer in charge in the shape of Nigel Adkins, who led Southampton up the same season.

Of last season's challengers, play-off finalists Watford have signed up many of last season's controversial loanees on permanent deals and could go well again.

But Brighton, who finished fourth, have imploded since their semi-final defeat by rivals Crystal Palace, acrimoniously parting with Gus Poyet in favour of little-known Spaniard Oscar Garcia, and Leicester have yet to substantially add to a squad which just scraped into the top six.

Instead Bolton look primed for a genuine promotion tilt under Dougie Freedman. The Scot left Palace flying high in fourth in October and then dragged Wanderers from 20th to seventh and, with a shrewd addition or two, they will be major contenders.

Billy Davies has cash to spend to lift Nottingham Forest into the top six, Ipswich and newly-promoted Bournemouth are lively outsiders and Middlesbrough will surely improve on last season's mid-table meandering.

Elsewhere Blackburn are likely to continue to under-achieve and amuse the neutrals in equal measure, Birmingham's fans also have little cause for optimism and Brian McDermott will have his work cut out to repeat his Reading heroics with Leeds.

Down at the bottom the Championship looks a league too far for Yeovil while Doncaster's yo-yo is pointing downwards again following their latest promotion.

Barnsley, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday face another long season and they may be joined in the relegation mix by Charlton despite a flattering ninth-placed finish last term.

But Millwall, entering their fourth consecutive Championship season but now without long-serving boss Kenny Jackett, the man who took them up and kept them there, could turn out to be the biggest casualties.

BARNSLEY

David Flitcroft: Optimism

Manager: David Flitcroft

Position last season: 21st

Nickname: The Tykes

Ground: Oakwell

Capacity: 23,009

Players in: Dale Jennings (Bayern Munich, £250,000), Chris O'Grady (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Christian Dibble (Bury, free), Wade Joyce (Sunderland, free), Lewin Nyatanga (Bristol City, free), John Cofie (Manchester United, free), John-Yves M'voto (Oldham, free)

Players out: Marlon Harewood, Matt Done, Rob Edwards, Stephen Foster, John Rooney, Lukas Lidakevicius, Toni Silva (all released)

Key man: Chris O'Grady

Chances: There is an air of optimism at Oakwell following Barnsley's strong finish that saw them escape relegation in May, but the Tykes will do well to steer clear of trouble again as manager David Flitcroft and assistant Micky Mellon embark on their first full season in charge.

BIRMINGHAM

Lee Clark: Young team

Manager: Lee Clark

Position last season: 12th

Nickname: Blues

Ground: St Andrew's

Capacity: 30,016

Players in: Andrew Shinnie (Inverness, free), Olly Lee (Barnet, free), Darren Randolph (Motherwell, free), Lee Novak (Huddersfield, free), Neal Eardley (Blackpool, free), Tom Adeyemi (Norwich, free), Kyle Bartley (Swansea, loan), Dan Burn (Fulham, loan), Matt Green (Mansfield, free), Scott Allan (West Brom, loan), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle, loan)

Players out: Keith Fahey, Morgaro Gomis, Pablo Ibanez, Adam Rooney (all released), Stephen Carr (retired), Curtis Davies (Hull, undisclosed) Steven Caldwell (Toronto, free), Deqwon Ebanks (Tamworth, free), Nathan Redmond (Norwich, undisclosed), Akwasi Asante (Shrewsbury, loan)

Key man: Andrew Shinnie

Chances: City's stand-out performers from last season - Curtis Davies, Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland - have departed while some of the more established and senior players are making way for young and hungry talent. Blues fans are not expecting a top-two challenge but a top-half finish and a possible play-off tilt would go down well.

BLACKBURN ROVERS

Gary Bowyer: Revival

Manager: Gary Bowyer

Position last season: 17th

Nickname: Rovers

Ground: Ewood Park

Capacity: 31,367

Players in: Chris Taylor (Millwall, free), Simon Eastwood (Portsmouth, free), Alan Judge (Notts County, free), Todd Kane (Chelsea, loan), DJ Campbell (QPR, free), Alex Marrow (Crystal Palace, free), Matt Kilgallon (Sunderland, free)

Players out: David Goodwillie (Dundee United, loan) Micah Evans, Osayamen Osawe, Chris Dilo, Jamie MacLaren, Reece Hands, Peter Wylie, Ryan Humphreys, Danny Laverty, Nuno Gomes (all released), Martin Olsson (Norwich, undisclosed), Jack O'Connell (Rochdale, loan), Anton Forrester (Bury, loan), Nuno Henrique (Futebol Clube de Arouca, loan)

Key man: Jordan Rhodes

Chances: Gary Bowyer performed something of a revival at Ewood Park at the back end of last season and with some impressive-looking summer signings, a play-off charge is the minimum expectation.


BLACKPOOL

Paul Ince: Big job

Manager: Paul Ince

Position last season: 15th

Nickname: The Seasiders, The Tangerines

Ground: Bloomfield Road

Capacity: 17,338

Players in: Gary MacKenzie (MK Dons, undisclosed), Bobby Grant (Rochdale, undisclosed)

Players out: Alex Addai, Gerardo Bruna, Matthew Challoner, Adda Djeziri, Tiago Gomes, Elliot Grandin, Jamie Menagh, Curtis Thompson (all released), Neal Eardley (Birmingham, free), Ashley Eastham (Rochdale, free), Chris Kettings (York, loan), Kevin Phillips (Crystal Palace, free), Paul Bignot (Grimsby, free)

Key man: Thomas Ince

Chances: Paul Ince has got a big job on his hands to keep Blackpool in the division, though expectations may still be high. They've lost several players and should be content with survival.

BOLTON WANDERERS

Dougie Freedman: Challenge

Manager: Dougie Freedman

Position last season: 7th

Nickname: The Trotters

Ground: Reebok Stadium

Capacity: 28,723

Players in: Marc Tierney (Norwich, free), Hayden White (Sheffield Wednesday, compensation), Alex Baptiste (Blackpool, free), Conor Wilkinson (Millwall, free), Rob Hall (West Ham, free), Jermaine Beckford (Leicester, undisclosed), Gary Fraser (Hamilton, free)

Players out: Adam Blakeman, Joe McKee, Lewis Fielding, Ben Hampson, Ben Dennis (all released), Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, free), Jack Sampson (Morecambe, free), Alex McQuade (Shrewsbury, free), Joe McKee (Greenock Morton, free), Rob Lainton (Bury, free), Sam Ricketts (Wolves, free), Gregg Wylde (Aberdeen, free)

Key man: Jermaine Beckford

Chances: After a late-season rally, Bolton just missed out on the play-offs last term and they are a good bet to go one better this year. They have a fine young manager in Dougie Freedman and have quality in Jermaine Beckford and Chris Eagles.

BOURNEMOUTH

Eddie Howe: Transformed

Manager: Eddie Howe

Position last season: 2nd in League One

Nickname: The Cherries

Ground: Dean Court

Capacity: 10,783

Players in: Elliot Ward (Norwich, free), Ian Harte (Reading, free), Mohamed Coulibaly ( Grasshopper Zurich, free)

Players out: Steve Fletcher (retired), Jonathan Meades (released), Charlie Sheringham (AFC Wimbledon, free), Frank Demouge (Roda JC, free) Dan Strugnell (Havant & Waterlooville, free)

Key man: Brett Pitman

Chances: Eddie Howe transformed the Cherries' fortunes last season and he has only tweaked his squad ahead of his return to second tier management. Experienced defenders Elliott Ward and Ian Harte join an young and ambitious group that look well-set for life in the Sky Bet Championship.

BRIGHTON

Oscar Garcia: New man

Manager: Oscar Garcia

Position last season: 4th

Nickname: The Seagulls

Ground: American Express Community Stadium

Capacity: 30,250

Players in: Matthew Upson (Stoke, free), Adam Chicksen (MK Dons, compensation)

Players out: Stephen Dobbie (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Gary Dicker, Marcos Painter, Vicente (all released)

Key man: Liam Bridcutt

Chances: Blew what was surely their best chance of promotion last season and then messily axed Gus Poyet, replacing him with little-known Spaniard Oscar Garcia. Mid-table beckons for the Seagulls.

BURNLEY

Sean Dyche: Hopeful

Manager: Sean Dyche

Position last season: 11th

Nickname: The Clarets

Ground: Turf Moor

Capacity: 22,546

Players in: Tom Heaton (Bristol C, free), Joseph Mills (Reading, free), Alex Cisak (Oldham, free), Daniel Nizic (free), Nick Liversedge (Whitby Town, free), Scott Arfield (Huddersfield, free), Ryan Noble (Sunderland, free)

Players out: Brian Jensen, Jon Stewart, Aryn Williams, Joe Jackson, Dane Richards (all released), Alex MacDonald (Burton, free), Wes Fletcher (York, free), Lee Grant (Derby, free), Chris McCann (Wigan, free), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield, free), Adam Evans (Inverness, free), Shay McCarten (Accrington, free), George Porter (AFC Wimbledon, loan), Charlie Austin (QPR)

Key man: Kieran Trippier

Chances: Burnley thought they had got away with keeping Charlie Austin after he failed a medical at Hull City but a subsequent switch to QPR leaves them desperately short up top. They need to reinvest or could be in for a long season.

CHARLTON

Chris Powell: Back

Manager: Chris Powell

Position last season: 9th

Nickname: The Addicks

Ground: The Valley

Capacity: 27,111

Players in: Mark Gower (Swansea, free), Richard Wood (Coventry, free)

Players out: Ricardo Fuller, Salim Kerkar, Yado Mambo, Matt Taylor, Bradley Wright-Phillips (all released), John Sullivan (Portsmouth, free) Scott Wagstaff (Bristol City, free), Danny Haynes (Notts County, free)

Key man: Johnnie Jackson

Chances: An eight-game unbeaten run saw Charlton climb to a flattering ninth-placed finish but with little money to improve the squad expect them to tread water in the lower reaches of the table this term.

DERBY COUNTY

Nigel Clough: Strengthened

Manager: Nigel Clough

Position last season: 10th

Nickname: The Rams

Ground: Pride Park

Capacity: 33,597

Players in: Lee Grant (Burnley, free), Chris Martin (Norwich, free), Johnny Russell (Dundee United, undisclosed), Craig Forsyth (Watford, undisclosed)

Players out: Gareth Roberts (Bury, free), Frank Fielding (Bristol City,

undisclosed), Ross Atkins (Alfreton, season-long loan), Conor Doyle (DC United, loan)

Key man: Jamie Ward

Chances: Last season was Derby's highest finish for six years as they ended the campaign 10th and seven points shy of the play-offs. Clough has strengthened his squad this summer and a top-six spot is a realistic target for the Rams.

DONCASTER ROVERS

Paul Dickov: Fresh chance

Manager: Paul Dickov

Position last season: 1st in League One

Nickname: Rovers

Ground: Keepmoat Stadium

Capacity: 15,231

Players in: Marc De Val Fernandez (Real Madrid, free), Harry Forrester (Brentford, compensation), Dean Furman (Oldham, free), Mark Duffy (Scunthorpe, undisclosed)

Players out: Jordan Ball, Patrick Mullen, Gary Woods, Martin Woods (all released), Lee Fowler (Kidderminster, free), Neil Sullivan (released)

Key man: David Cotterill

Chances: Dickov remains as many as nine players short as he rebuilds Rovers' squad with deals for further arrivals hinging on the ongoing talks regarding potential investment. It could be a season of struggle on their return to the second tier.

HUDDERSFIELD

Mark Robins: Full campaign

Manager: Mark Robins

Position last season: 19th

Nickname: The Terriers

Ground: John Smith's Stadium

Capacity: 24,500

Players in: Daniel Carr (Dulwich Hamlet, undisclosed), Jake Carroll (St

Patrick's, undisclosed), Adam Hammill (Wolves, undisclosed), Jon Stead (Bristol City, free), Martin Paterson (Burnley, free), James Vaughan (Norwich,

undisclosed)

Players out: Scott Arfield, Alan Lee (both released), Tom Clarke (Preston), Lee Novak (Birmingham, free)

Key man: James Vaughan

Chances: Huddersfield added more firepower to their squad this summer, but must also improve at the other end - only Bristol City conceded more goals last season - if they are to challenge for a top-half finish in boss Mark Robins' first full campaign in charge.

IPSWICH TOWN

Mick McCarthy: Turnaround

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Position last season: 14th

Nickname: The Tractor Boys

Ground: Portman Road

Capacity: 30,311

Players in: Cole Skuse (Bristol City, free), Jay Tabb (Reading, free), Daryl Murphy (Celtic, free), David McGoldrick (Nottingham Forest, free) Paul Anderson (Bristol City, swap deal), Dean Gerken (Bristol City, free), Frederic Veseli (Manchester United, free), Christophe Berra (Wolves, free)

Players out: Arran Lee-Barrett, Jason Brown, Jack Ainsley, Cormac Burke, Ronan Murray, Joe Whight, (all released), Andy Drury (Crawley, free), Lee Martin (Millwall, free), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Bristol City, swap deal)

Key man: David McGoldrick

Chances: Mick McCarthy turned around struggling Ipswich's fortunes last season to finish in mid-table and, using his vast experience of the Championship, Town are likely to be one of several contenders for a play-off place this time around.

LEEDS UNITED

Brian McDermott: Expectations

Manager: Brian McDermott

Position last season: 13th

Nickname: The Whites

Ground: Elland Road

Capacity: 37,697

Players in: Matt Smith (Oldham, free), Luke Murphy (Crewe, undisclosed), Noel Hunt (free, Reading)

Players out: Leigh Bromby, Paul Connolly, Davide Somma, Paddy Kisnorbo, Paul Rachubka, Habib Habibou, Monty Gimpel, Sanchez Payne, Patrick Antelmi, Jordan Snodin (all released), Steve Morison (Millwall, loan)

Key man: Ross McCormack

Chances: Manager Brian McDermott steered Reading to the Premier League on a modest budget and will be expected to guide Leeds towards a play-off challenge in his first full season at Elland Road.

LEICESTER CITY

Nigel Pearson: Difficulties

Manager: Nigel Pearson

Position last season: 6th

Nickname: The Foxes

Ground: King Power Stadium

Capacity: 32,262

Players in: Zoumana Bakayogo (Tranmere, free)

Players out: Conor Brennan, Steven Smith, Karlton Watson, Jide Maduako (all released), Joey Jones (Yeovil, free), Jermaine Beckford (Bolton, undisclosed)

Key man: Kasper Schmeichel

Chances: Automatic promotion was the aim 12 months ago but the Foxes only managed a play-off spot. The club's Thai owners will once again be expecting a top-two finish but financial fair play could make life difficult for Pearson.

MIDDLESBROUGH

Tony Mowbray: Must stop rot

Manager: Tony Mowbray

Position last season: 16th

Nickname: Boro

Ground: Riverside Stadium

Capacity: 34,988

Players in: Jozsef Varga (Debrecen, loan), Dean Whitehead (Stoke, free)

Players out: Julio Arca, Andre Bikey, Kieron Dyer, Stephen McManus, Merouane Zemmama (all released), Nicky Bailey (Millwall, free), Scott McDonald (Millwall, free)

Key man: Marvin Emnes

Chances: Boro's 2013 form was so bad it saw them drop from the top two in January into a relegation fight and Tony Mowbray will have to stop the rot. A play-off challenge will again be expected, but mid-table is probably more likely.

MILLWALL

Steve Lomas: Connections

Manager: Steve Lomas

Position last season: 20th

Nickname: The Lions

Ground: The Den

Capacity: 20,146

Players in: Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace, free), Stephen Bywater (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Steve Morison (Leeds, loan), Lee Martin (Ipswich, free), Richard Chaplow (Southampton, free), Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough, free), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough, free)

Players out: Chris Taylor (Blackburn, free), Steve Mildenhall (Bristol Rovers, free), Tamika Mkandawire (Shrewsbury, free), Shaun Batt (Leyton Orient, free), Conor Wilkinson (Bolton, Free), Therry Racon, Maik Taylor (all released)

Key man: Danny Shittu

Chances: Steve Lomas faces a tough task replacing long-serving boss Kenny Jackett and winning over the fans due to his West Ham connections. The Lions' four-year Championship stint could be coming to an end.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST

Billy Davies: Promotion plans

Manager: Billy Davies

Position last season: 8th

Nickname: The Reds

Ground: City Ground

Capacity: 30,603

Players in: Darius Henderson (Millwall, free), Gonzalo Jara Reyes, (West Brom, free) Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa, free), Jamie Paterson (Walsall, undisclosed), Dorus De Vries (Wolves, free), Jack Hobbs (Hull City, loan), Jamie Mackie (QPR), Djamel Abdoun (Olympiacos).

Players out: David McGoldrick (Ipswich, free), Josh Thomas, Elliott Ackroyd, Eurico Sebastiao, Jordan Palmer-Samuels (all released), Matt Regan (Tamworth, free), Lewis McGugan (Watford, free), Dimitar Evtimov (Nuneaton, loan)

Key man: Chris Cohen

Chances: Davies performed heroics on his return as Forest defied the odds to mount a play-off challenge. The Scot now has a pre-season and a full campaign to plan a promotion tilt and the Reds will go close to a top-two finish.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Harry Redknapp: Appetite

Manager: Harry Redknapp

Position last season: 20th in Premier League

Nickname: Hoops

Ground: Loftus Road

Capacity: 18,360

Players in: Danny Simpson (Newcastle, free), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa, free), Karl Henry (Wolves, undisclosed), Charlie Austin (Burnley)

Players out: Tal Ben Haim, Radek Cerny, Freddy Champion, Adam Francis, Rob Hulse, Louis Parmenter, Tommase Trani, Jay Bothroyd, Djibril Cisse (all released), DJ Campbell (Blackburn, free), Troy Hewitt (Walsall, free), Chris Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala, undisclosed)

Key man: Bobby Zamora

Chances: Rangers undoubtedly have the talent to bounce straight back from relegation but if they do not have the appetite for the battle ahead, who is to say they will not follow Wolves out of the division in the other direction?

READING

Nigel Adkins: Added quality

Manager: Nigel Adkins

Position last season: 19th in Premier League

Nickname: The Royals

Ground: Madejski Stadium

Capacity: 24,161

Players in: Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, free), Royston Drenthe (Alania Vladikavkaz, free), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, undisclosed)

Players out: Nick Bignall, Charlie Losasso, Angus MacDonald, Nicky Shorey, Joshua Webb, Brett Williams, Noel Hunt, Simon Church (all released) Joseph Mills (Burnley, free), Jay Tabb (Ipswich, free), Nick Arnold (Wycombe, loan), Ian Harte (Bournemouth, free), Josh Shama (Oxford, free), Mikkel Andersen (Randers, free), Ryan Edwards (Perth Glory, loan), Daniel Carrico (Sevilla, loan)

Key man: Adam Le Fondre

Chances: Nigel Adkins has added some quality to his squad rather than seen it decimated after relegation so the Royals should have every chance of mounting a sustained promotion tilt.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Dave Jones: Limited budget

Manager: Dave Jones

Position last season: 18th

Nickname: The Owls

Ground: Hillsborough

Capacity: 39,812

Players in: Jacques Maghoma (Burton, free), Jeremy Helan (Manchester City, undisclosed)

Players out: Julian Bennett, Nejc Pecnik, Nicky Weaver (all released), Bastien Hery (Rochdale, free), Chris O'Grady (Barnsley, undisclosed), Stephen Bywater (Millwall, free), Hayden White (Bolton, compensation), Chris Lines (free)

Key man: Jacques Maghoma

Chances: The Owls found some of their best form towards the end of the last campaign, ensuring another year in the Championship with a last-day win over Middlesbrough, but face an equally challenging season ahead on a limited playing budget.

WATFORD

Gianfranco Zola: Stars are back

Manager: Gianfranco Zola

Position last season: 3rd

Nickname: The Hornets

Ground: Vicarage Road

Capacity: 17,477

Players in: Uche Ikpeazu (Reading, free), Lewis McGugan (Nottingham Forest, free), Iriney Santos (Granada, loan), Almen Abdi (Udinese, undisclosed), Marco Cassetti (Udinese, undisclosed), Cristian Battocchio (Udinese, undisclosed), Gabriele Angella (Udinese, undisclosed), Marco Davide Faraoni (Udinese, undisclosed), Diego Fabbrini (Udinese, undisclosed), Javier Acuna (Udinese, undisclosed), Daniel Pudil (Granada, undisclosed), Ikechi Anya (Granada, undisclosed), Reece Brown (Manchester United, free)

Players out: Mark Yeates (Bradford, free), Prince Buaben, Piero Mingoia, Aaron Tumwa, Stephan Hamilton-Forbes (all released), Chris Iwelumo (Scunthorpe, free), Jack Bonham (Brentford, free), Stephen McGinn (Sheffield United, free), Craig Forsyth (Derby, undisclosed)

Key man: Almen Abdi

Chances: Last season's loan players, excluding star performers Matej Vydra and Nathaniel Chalobah, have returned on permanent deals with the addition of further impressive signings. Expect the Hornets to be there or thereabouts once again.

WIGAN ATHLETIC

Owen Coyle: Distractions

Manager: Owen Coyle

Position last season: 18th in Premier League

Nickname: The Latics

Ground: DW Stadium

Capacity: 25,133

Players in: Chris McCann (Burnley, free), Stephen Crainey (Blackpool, free), Thomas Rogne (Celtic, free), James Perch (Newcastle, undisclosed) Scott Carson (Bursaspor, free), Grant Holt (Norwich, undisclosed), Marc-Antoine Fortune (West Brom, free)

Players out: Antolin Alcaraz, David Jones, Franco Di Santo, Albert Crusat, Adrian Lopez, Ronnie Stam, Filip Orsula, Callum Morris, Ryan Watson (all released), Mauro Boselli (Club Leon, undisclosed), Maynor Figueroa (Hull, free), Arouna Kone (Everton, undisclosed)

Key man: Grant Holt

Chances: There will be plenty of pressure on new boss Owen Coyle to make sure Wigan bounce straight back to the Premier League. They have the players to do it, but could be distracted by the Europa League.

YEOVIL TOWN

Gary Johnson: Underdogs

Manager: Gary Johnson

Position last season: 4th in League One

Nickname: The Glovers

Ground: Huish Park

Capacity: 9,665

Players in: Joel Grant (Wycombe, free), Sam Hoskins (Southampton, free), Joey Jones (Leicester, free), Kieffer Moore (Dorchester, undisclosed), Michael Ngoo (Liverpool, season-long loan), Billy Clifford (Chelsea, loan), Alan Tate (Swansea, loan)

Players out: Richard Hinds (Bury, free), Gavin Williams (Woking, free), Dominic Blizzard (Plymouth, free)

Key man: Paddy Madden

Chances: The relegation favourites' survival chances may well depend on how well last season's stars Paddy Madden, Marek Stech and Sam Foley adapt to the second tier you certainly can't rule out little old Yeovil upsetting the odds, again.

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