Stan Hey: 6-5 against

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The Independent Online

This small paragraph apart, you will find this space is an Olympics-free zone. Nothing against the Games, it just feels unseemly to bet on an event that clings to integrity.

So, on to more mundane but knowable matters – the 72-strong circus that is the Football League starts up again today, with each club bubbling with optimism.

The stakes are bigger in the Championship where at least a dozen clubs have Premier League experience, mostly dispiriting, but who won't be put off trying again.

The three drop-outs from last year, Derby County (14-1 Betfred), Birmingham City (13-2 Betfred) and Reading (10-1 Ladbrokes) are among the favourites to go back up, but it doesn't always happen that way. Club stability is clearly a key component, allied to a progressive manager – Sheffield United, Ipswich, Norwich, and even Coventry under Chris Coleman, fit this bill, but I'm taking Glenn Roeder's Canaries (33-1 generally) to sing loudest.

The League One picture is distorted by Leeds (3-1 generally) and Leicester (6-1 Ladbrokes), big clubs who feel they shouldn't be there, which brings additional pressure. A chance is taken on Northampton (40-1 Hills, Ladbrokes), who finished well. Finally, in League Two, Lincoln City (20-1 Totesport) scored 40 of their 58 points in the second half of the season as the new coach, Peter Jackson, got to work. Canaries, Cobblers and Imps – £5 each-way.

Last week's wagers

The bets on the USPGA golf are in play – but I'll know over my brekkie whether Messrs Furyk, Kim, Leonard and Ogilvy made the cut.

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