Tuesday Aug 10, 2010
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BLUE SQUARE BET PREMIER 2010/11 Season Preview
What do the top two teams in the betting for next season's Blue Square Bet Premier have in common? Money! Favourites Luton Town are managed by (Richard) Money and 5/1 second favourites Crawley Town have been throwing lots of it around. Neither club has escaped the attention of punters and the quotes of 3/1 for the Hatters and the huge 33/1 about the Sussex club winning the title have long gone. Luton were the 5/1 favourites at this stage last year and in a strange way their inability to confirm that quote has led to an even shorter price, as they have a second crack at promotion. It's not that there will be less pressure at Kenilworth Road this season, if anything the opposite is true. Money took over from Mick Harford as Luton stuttered whilst getting used to Non-League football's top flight. Now he has a full pre-season under his belt with some decent signings he can build on an unbeaten league run that goes back to the early days of March. Disappointment in the Play-Offs could be another motivational tool for his accomplished squad of players, the current 7/4 favourites appear to have everything in the right place for a strong assault. Crawley's capture of last season's joint top scorer Matt Tubbs from relegated Salisbury was the highlight of some frenzied transfer activity at the Broadfield Stadium. Manager Steve Evans knows exactly what it takes to win the division and his players will be kept up to the task with the Blue Square Bet Premier's version of the ‘hairdryer'.
Luton will no doubt testify to the difficulty of climbing out of this highly competitive division and it's no surprise to see recent calls from the high profile manager of Welsh giants Wrexham, Dean Saunders, demanding a third promotion place. Darlington and Grimsby Town are the newcomers dropping in from League 2 and both have been quick to embrace some real ‘Conference' experience. Darlington have appointed former Kettering Town boss Mark Cooper to steer them back to the Football League. Cooper will be hoping to emulate the clubs achievements from the 1989-90 season when they bounced straight back as champions. The Quakers are 11/1 to win the division and 11/2 to go up by any means. Grimsby have captured proven goalscorer Charles Ademeno from Crawley and tried to retain some of the spirited squad which fought against a poor start to last season which eventually ended in the drop. Boss Neil Woods will no doubt have his work cut out to return the 15/2 third favourites to League 2 at the first time of asking and they start with a difficult away game at Crawley followed by games against York City and Luton in the first month of the campaign.
Mansfield Town start a third successive season in the division off the back of two mid-table finishes. The Stags have been given a realistic 18/1 quote for the title and feature towards the middle of the market with fellow former league clubs York City and Wrexham at 12/1 and 16/1 respectively. York improved immensely last term to set up a play-off final against Oxford United but it proved a bridge too far. If they can hold on to the prolific Richard Brodie past transfer deadline day then they look set for another top five finish. Cambridge United fans have been quietly confident that boss Martin Ling has got the right recipe for success after a decent end to last season and they are 7/1 to secure a promotion that has now eluded them for five seasons including two finishes as runners-up, for that reason they could appeal to some at 14/1 with each-way places paid to fourth at Blue Square.
The likes of AFC Wimbledon
and Fleetwood Town
have the right set-ups behind the scenes to warrant a place at Non-League's top table and both are 20/1 to cement that with a title winning season. Some teams that have progressed through the pyramid and find themselves in the Blue Square Bet Premier just want to stay as long as they can for the ride but with four relegation places it usually makes for a fascinating end to each season