Four League One clubs could still finish in top two

Four League One clubs could still finish in top two

Who will get automatic promotion in League One?

We are into the final two weeks of the League One campaign, but the race for promotion is still extremely tight. As many as four clubs still have hopes of a top two finish, with none of them as of yet assured of a place in the Championship for next season.

Both Luton Town and Barnsley currently occupy the top two places, but the two clubs chasing them down – Portsmouth and Sunderland – both have a game in hand on their rivals which could tighten things up even more.

It is all set up to be an extremely exciting finish to the season, and a nerve wracking one if you support any of the clubs involved.

We have taken a look at the bookmakers odds heading into the last couple of League One matches to see who they are predicting will clinch automatic promotion and who will miss out.

Luton Town look assured of League One promotion

The team who are in the box seat when it comes to automatic promotion in League One are Luton Town. Mick Harford’s side sit top of the league with just two fixtures remaining, three points ahead of Barnsley in second and more crucially five ahead of third place albeit having played a game more.

The Hatters have been at the top of the table for the majority of the season now, and in truth thoroughly deserve to be promoted. They have been the best side in the division this season, despite only having been promoted from League Two last season.

Nathan Jones left them earlier in 2019 to join Stoke City, but that did not affect them at all with Harford taking the reins and continuing their success. One more victory should now be enough for them to finish the job, and you would expect them to get that against either Burton Albion or Oxford United.

Bookmakers themselves think that promotion is all but secured for the Hatters. Sky Bet are pricing them up at 1/33 to finish in one of the top two places. They are also odds-on to actually win the League One title at 1/7.

Luton Town manager Mick Harford has continued the clubs success after replacing Nathan Jones.

Barnsley on course for instant Championship return

As already mentioned it is Daniel Stendel’s Barnsley who sit in second place and therefore in with a huge chance of making an instant return to the Championship. The Reds were relegated on the final day of the season last year, but have been outstanding in their efforts to be promoted at the first time of asking.

The South Yorkshire side have played 44 matches and currently sit two points above Portsmouth in third, but with Kenny Jackett’s side having played a game less it is actually them who have fate in their own hands.

But the fixture list looks fairly good for Stendel’s men. They have a home match against a Blackpool side who cannot now achieve anything other than a mid-table finish this season, before taking on another side with little to play for on the final day of the campaign in Bristol Rovers.

Despite promotion not being in their hands, the bookmakers are predicting that Barnsley will clinch automatic promotion ahead of their rivals from the south coast. Sky Bet have the Tykes as odds-on to finish in one of the top two positions in League One, priced at 4/6.

Alex Mowatt Barnsley

Alex Mowatt has been instrumental in Barnsley’s success this season.

Sunderland v Portsmouth could yet prove crucial

The other two sides in contention are Portsmouth and Sunderland and ironically they are scheduled to play each other before the season comes to a conclusion. The fixture will take place at the Stadium of Light, with the losing team likely to then be ruled out of the automatic promotion race.

Of the two clubs it is Portsmouth who are currently in a much better position to claim a top two place. As mentioned destiny is very much in their own hands and they know that if they win all three of their remaining fixtures they will go up, whatever Barnsley do. But they have tough fixtures, not only do they travel to Sunderland but they must also play seventh placed Peterborough United too, with the Posh still chasing a play-off place.

It is perhaps due to the fixtures that they have remaining that bookmakers fancy Barnsley to finish in the top two ahead of them. Indeed Pompey are currently priced at 13/8 to claim automatic promotion.

As for Sunderland, they are now the outsiders in the race after dropping points in two of their last three matches. The Black Cats looked on course for promotion but a 5-4 home defeat against Coventry – their first of the season – and a 1-1 draw with Peterborough has seen them fall to fourth.

They now sit four points adrift of the top two, so even if they win their game in hand it will not be enough for them as it stands. Quite simply they have to beat Portsmouth to stand any chance at all of avoiding the play-offs.

Sunderland are priced at 6/1 to finish in the top two.

Jack Ross Sunderland League One

Sunderland manager Jack Ross may have to settle for a place in the play-offs.

League One automatic promotion odds:

(All odds taken from Sky Bet)

Luton Town – 1/33

Barnsley – 4/6

Portsmouth – 13/8

Sunderland – 6/1

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