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History favours Leicester in Championship promotion race

The Championship is often viewed as the hardest league in the world. With the riches on offer in the Premier League, the 24 clubs in the second tier face an annual scramble to reach the promised land.

The play-off final is repeatedly billed as the richest football game in the world and there is often a perception that clubs yo-yo between the top two divisions.

For Leicester, Leeds and Southampton, who were all relegated from the Premier League last season, their target will be an immediate return to the top flight, but are the odds and history in their favour?

Leicester favourites for the title

The three teams went into the 2023-24 season as the leading trio in the betting, with Leicester the general 4/1 favourites to win the title, with Leeds around 11/2 and Southampton 13/2. They will certainly have featured in many Championship bets, both singles and multiples, ahead of the campaign. Leicester and Leeds, in particular, also featured prominently among Championship betting tips when it came to predicting the teams to win promotion.

But bouncing straight back into the Premier League at the first time of asking is not as easy as it may seem. In the past 10 years, of the 30 teams to have been relegated from the Premier League, only 10 have won promotion the following season.

There have also only been two instances when more than one club has gone straight back up. In 2015-16, Burnley and Hull City won promotion and five years later, Norwich and Watford finished first and second. There have also been two seasons when none of the three clubs relegated from the Premier League have immediately won promotion.

Of the three teams relegated last season, both early-season form and recent history suggest Leicester are best placed to go straight back up. Leicester have made a fast start under new manager Enzo Maresca and their astute business in the transfer market allied to some promising young players has ensured they have taken no time at all to get to grips with life in the Championship.

The Pep Guardiola effect

Their form and performances so far have echoes of last season’s Championship winners Burnley, who ran away with the title following the appointment of a manager who had gained experience from playing under or working with Pep Guardiola.

It is also noteworthy that, of the 10 teams who have gone straight back up in the past decade, five of those finished 18th in the Premier League. Leicester will be hoping to emulate Newcastle, Fulham and Burnley, who won the Championship the year after finishing 18th.

Leeds, meanwhile, have at least appointed a manager who knows what it takes to win promotion to the Premier League. Daniel Farke twice led Norwich to the Championship title and has a squad capable of ensuring the club are in the mix come the end of the season. Three teams who finished 19th in the top flight have gone back up a year later in the past decade.

Southampton have a manager in Russell Martin who at least has Championship experience, but only two teams have gone straight back up the season after finishing bottom of the Premier League. An inconsistent start has not helped Southampton’s cause, but they will at least be hoping to avoid the fate of Sunderland, who finished bottom of the Championship in 2018, 12 months after finishing bottom of the Premier League.