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2016/17 League One Guide

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A guide to League One as Wanderers prepare for life in the third tier for the first time in 23 years

Who will follow in the footsteps of Barnsley, Burton and Wigan in promotion from League One this season?
Who will follow in the footsteps of Barnsley, Burton and Wigan in promotion from League One this season?
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

A club buying two players with the same name; one club signing 11 foreigners over the summer; another signing a former convicted rapist and faking a raffle competition winner; and a whole host of clubs signing bog-standard former Bolton players - it can only be League One.

To say a lot has changed since Bolton Wanderers were last in the third tier of English football is somewhat of an understatement.The last time Bolton graced this level of football with their presence was the 1992/93 campaign, the inaugural season of the Premier League which saw Teddy Sheringham finish as the top scorer. Ahead of this season we saw a new British transfer record broken when Alan Shearer moved to newly promoted Blackburn Rovers from Southampton for around £3.5 million - a fee you'd have to multiply 28.5 times to reach the mooted price Paul Pogba could attract from Manchester United this summer.

A little lower down the leagues, Bolton secured promotion from Division Two (now League One) by finishing runners-up to Stoke City and were joined in promotion by West Bromwich Albion, who were led to Play-Off glory by Ossie Ardiles. While Newcastle United reached the Premier League as Division One champions in their first season under Kevin Keegan's stewardship, and Bristol Rovers and Cambridge United were relegated from the same league.

So with that in mind, it's well worth taking a look at what we can expect in League One in 2016/17, with our team-by-team guide and a look at who the bookies are tipping for success and failure.

AFC Wimbledon

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last five years you'll be well aware of the rise of this so-called Phoenix club. Having re-risen from the flames of the former Wimbledon of Vinnie Jones, Lawrie Sanchez and that FA Cup glory, the newly formed club has fought back through the leagues to be on a level par with bitter rivals MK Dons for the first time.

They put in an impressive performance to defeat Plymouth in last season's League Two play-off final, in a fitting tribute to the departing 'Beast' Adebayo Akinfenwa, but it'll be interesting to see how his former teammates fare in the step up in quality.

The biggest talking point around the club seems to be their ground situation - basically because it's tiny and they're trying to return to former home Plough Lane. But on the pitch, no less than three strikers have left the club this summer, with just one arriving in their place and the bookies don't seem too enamoured about their survival chances.

In: Chris Whelpdale and Dean Parrett (Stevenage), Dominic Poleon (Oldham Athletic), Ryan Clarke (Northampton), Darius Charles (Burton Albion)

Out: Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe), Ade Azeez (Partick Thistle), Connor Smith (Plymouth), Sean Rigg (Newport), Callum Kennedy (Leyton Orient)

Manager: Neal Ardley

Promotion Odds: 14/1

Relegation Odds: 4/1

Bradford City

The Bantams saw their manager and striker Jamie Proctor depart the club this season - you may have heard about those stories. Replacing Phil Parkinson is former player Stuart McCall, who also managed the club between 2007 and 2010.

Player-wise, Bradford have strengthened with no fewer than seven new signings, including former Rangers midfielder Nicky Law. They made headlines by sneakily signing goalkeeper Colin Doyle for £1 from Blackpool and snapped up former Sunderland and Blackburn defender Matthew Kilgallon on Monday, and are considered possible outsiders for promotion by the bookies.

In: Colin Doyle (Blackpool), Nicky Law (Rangers), Timothee Dieng (Oldham), Jordy Hiwula (loan, Huddersfield), Matthew Kilgallon (Leeds), Rouven Sattelmaier (Stuttgart Kickers), Romain Vincelot (Coventry), Nathaniel Knight-Percival (Shrewsbury)

Out: Jamie Proctor (Bolton), Greg Leigh (Bury)

Manager: Stuart McCall

Promotion Odds: 4/1

Relegation Odds: 16/1

Bristol Rovers

Rovers arrive in League One after successive promotions from the Conference and League Two - and as such begin the season among the relegation favourites. Upon promotion they offered new contracts to all but one of their senior professional players, and have recruited a potential goal-getter in loanee Luke James, but it remains to be seen how they'll adopt to life back in the third tier.

In: Luke James (loan, Peterborough), Peter Hartley (Plymouth), Byron Moore (Port Vale)

Out: n/a

Manager: Darrell Clarke

Promotion Odds: 8/1

Relegation Odds: 7/1


Bolton's nearest rivals have strengthened their squad with the addition of two former Wanderers who left the club this summer, in the form of young full-back Niall Maher and veteran midfielder Neil Danns. Meanwhile, another former Bolton man has left Bury with Joe Riley moving on to Shrewsbury. The Shakers have also signed former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland after he left fellow Lancastrians Preston, but are third favourites to go down.

In: Niall Maher and Neil Danns (Bolton), Chris Kirkland (Preston), Ben Williams (Bradford), Zeli Ismael (Wolves), Dan Gardner (loan, Chesterfield), Leon Barnett (Wigan), Nicky Clark (Rangers)

Out: Leon Clarke and Chris Hussey (Sheffield United), Joe Riley (Shrewsbury)

Manager: David Flitcroft

Promotion Odds: 12/1

Relegation Odds: 5/2

Charlton Athletic

The ongoing managerial merry-go-round at Charlton has continued this summer, with former Cardiff boss Russell Slade taking the hotseat.

Charlton have had to make changes since last season's relegation with the likes of Icelandic midfielder Johann Berg Gudmondsson joining Burnley and young midfielder Jordan Cousins moving on to QPR. Temperamental striker Tony Watt has moved back to Scotland, but in his place comes Nicky Ajose, who scored 25 goals in 40 games for Swindon last season. Youngster Ademola Lookman - who scored twice against Bolton last season - could be a real danger in League One, and Charlton are among the favourites to bounce back to the Championship.

In: Lee Novak (Huddersfield), Andrew Crofts (Brighton), Nicky Ajose (Swindon), Ricky Holmes (Northampton), Louis Yamfam (Stevenage)

Out: Tony Watt (loan, Hearts), Johann Berg Gudmondsson and Nick Pope (Burnley, Jordan Cousins (QPR), Stephen Henderson (Nottingham Forest), Marko Dmitrovic (AD Alcorcon), Igor Vetokele (loan, Zelte Waregem)

Manager: Russell Slade

Promotion Odds: 7/2

Relegation Odds: 20/1


Not content with signing a one-time convicted rapist over the summer - which saw the club's main sponsor withdraw their funding - Chesterfield made major headlines last month for faking the winner of a raffle competition to join the team on their pre-season tour.

In: Ched Evans (unattached), Kristian Dennis (Macclesfield), Jon Nolan (Grimsby), Ryan Fulton (loan, Liverpool), Reece Mitchell (Chelsea), Paul McGinn (Dundee)

Out: Oliver Banks (Oldham), Jordan Slew (Plymouth), Jake Orrell (Hartlepool), Drew Talbot (Portsmouth)

Manager: Danny Wilson

Promotion Odds: 14/1

Relegation Odds: 5/2


Coventry are another side to have snapped up a former Bolton player, bringing in striker Marvin Sordell over the summer. They've also added Derby youngster Kwame Thomas, but the summer has been dominated by departures with the likes of John Fleck joining Sheffield United and youngster Bassala Sambou moving to Everton.

In: Kwame Thomas (Derby), Marvin Sordell (Colchester), Bilal Sayoud (NIKE Academy)

Out: John Fleck (Sheffield United), Conor Thomas (Swindon), Jim O'Brien (Shrewsbury), Aaron Martin (Oxford), Bassala Sambou (Everton)

Manager: Tony Mowbray

Promotion Odds: 9/2

Relegation Odds: 10/1

Fleetwood Town

Fleetwood's preparations for the new season were shaken up by the resignation of manager Steven Pressley last month. He was replaced by former Brentford boss Uwe Rosler on Saturday, just one week before the start of the season.

The Cod Army have also snapped up a former Bolton man, bringing in defender Cian Bolger and strangely signing three new goalkeepers, as well as Ajax youth product Ricardo Kip.

In: Dion Charles and Matt Urwin (AFC Fylde), Michael Duckworth (Hartlepool), Chris Neal (Port Vale), Alex Cairns (Rotherham), Ricardo Kip (Almere City), Cian Bolger (Southend United), Aaron Holloway (Wycombe)

Out: Jamille Matt (Blackpool), Tyler Hornby-Forbes (Brighton), Antoni Sarcevic (Shrewsbury)

Manager: Uwe Rosler

Promotion Odds: 12/1

Relegation Odds: 4/1


The big news this summer is the arrival of former England international left-back Paul Konchesky, who joined after his contract at Premier League champions Leicester City expired. The Gills also brought in Millwall midfielder Lee Martin, who suffered an injury so serious that a pre-season friendly at Leyton Orient had to be abandoned over the weekend.

In: Paul Konchesky (Leicester), Scott Wagstaff (Bristol City), Joe Quigley (loan, Bournemouth), Lee Martin (Millwall), Deji Oshilaja (loan, Cardiff),

Out: Doug Loft and Brennan Dickenson (Colchester), Jermaine McGlashan (Southend)

Manager: Justin Edinburgh

Promotion Odds: 5/1

Relegation Odds: 8/1

MK Dons

The third relegated side from the Championship last season are competing at the same level as AFC Wimbledon for the first time. The Dons have lost defender Kyle McFadzean to Burton Albion, who paid a club record fee, but brought in midfielder Ed Upson after the expiry of his Millwall contract and confusingly signed two players called George Williams - one of whom is re-loaned Fulham forward and the other is a former Barnsley defender (unless I've lost my mind from writing this beyond midnight).

In: Ed Upson (Millwall), Paul Downing (Walsall), George Williams (loan, Fulham), George Williams (Barnsley)

Out: Harry Hickford (Forest Green), Antony Kay (Bury), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Carl Baker (Portsmouth)

Manager: Karl Robinson

Promotion Odds: 4/1

Relegation Odds: 14/1


Millwall lost defender Mark Beevers to Bolton over pre-season, along with several other departures, but also brought in a former Bolton man in winger Gregg Wylde.

In: Paul Rooney (Bohemians), Gregg Wylde (Plymouth), David Worrall (Southend), Shaun Hutchinson (Fulham)

Out: Mark Beevers (Bolton), Lee Martin (Gillingham), Ed Upson (MK Dons), David Forde (Portsmouth), John Marquis (Doncaster), Paris Cowan-Hall (Wycombe)

Manager: Neil Harris

Promotion Odds: 7/2

Relegation Odds: 25/1

Northampton Town

Last season's runaway League Two winners are an amazing comeback story. Having faced near extinction through crippling debts, they prepared for life in third tier football by strengthening heavily in pre-season with no fewer than nine new signings - including bringing in former Bolton midfielder Matty Taylor, who was released by Championship champions Burnley, and former Ireland goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. The Cobblers lost manager Chris Wilder during pre-season, with the widely coveted boss joining Sheffield United after rumours he was headed for both Bolton and Charlton.

In: Matty Taylor (Burnley), Kenji Gorre (loan, Swansea), Harry Beautyman and Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough), Jak McCourt (Barnsley), David Cornell (Oldham), Alex Revell (MK Dons), Raheem Hanley (Swansea), Paddy Kenny (Rotherham)

Out: Ryan Clarke (AFC Wimbledon),

Manager: Rob Page

Promotion Odds: 5/1

Relegation Odds: 10/1

Oldham Athletic

The Latics brought in Northern Ireland assistant manager as their new boss following Euro 2016, after former Bolton player John Sheridan moved on to take the helm at Notts County. The new man comes into a club that is favourite for relegation but has been bolstered by at least 14 summer acquisitions, including former Bolton youngster Luke Woodland, and seen nine players leave.

In: Paul Green (Rotherham), Ollie Banks (Chesterfield), Peter Clarke (Bury), Cameron Burgess (loan, Fulham), Ryan Flynn (Sheffield United), Marc Klok (Cherno More), Billy Mckay (loan, Wigan), Chris Kettings (Crystal Palace), James Reckord (Ross County), Luke Woodland (Bradford Park Avenue), Connor Ripley (loan, Middlesbrough), Josh Law (Motherwell), Lee Erwin (loan, Leeds), Darius Osei (Stalybridge)

Out: Joel Coleman (Huddersfield), Timothee Dieng (Bradford), Jonathan Forte (Notts County), Mike Jones (Carlisle), Rhys Murphy (Forest Green), Chris Renshaw (Everton), Rhys Turner (Morecambe), Theo Vassell (Walsall), James Wilson (Sheffield United)

Manager: Stephen Robinson

Promotion Odds: 20/1

Relegation Odds: 7/4

Oxford United

Yet another League One side to snap up a former Bolton player, newly promoted Oxford have snapped up winger Rob Hall. They have, however, lost star forward Kemar Roofe for a club record sale of £3 million to Leeds United and Callum O'Dowda to Bristol City for in excess of £1 million, and used that cash to lure Plymouth defender Curtis Nelson and former Manchester United man Joe Rothwell to the club.

In: Curtis Nelson (Plymouth), Joe Rothwell (Man United), Chris Maguire (Rotherham), Kane Hemmings (Dundee), Tyler Roberts (loan, West Brom), Dan Crowley (loan, Arsenal), Christian Ribeiro (Exeter), Wes Thomas (Birmingham), Aaron Martin (Coventry), Simon Eastwood (Blackburn)

Out: Kemar Roofe (Leeds), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City)

Manager: Michael Appleton

Promotion Odds: 5/1

Relegation Odds: 8/1

Peterborough United

New Posh signing Brad Inman suffered a broken leg 'with six seconds left in training' last week and is joined on the sidelines by striker Lee Angol. Posh also signed forward Paul Taylor, who spent 12 months out of the game after being released by Ipswich in 2015.

In: Brad Inman (Crewe), Gwion Edwards (Crawley), Paul Taylor (Ipswich), Matty Stevens (Barnet), Andrew Hughes (Newport), Ryan Tafazolli (Mansfield)

Out: Gabriel Zakuani and Harry Beautyman (Northampton), Luke James (loan, Bristol Rovers)

Manager: Grant McCann

Promotion Odds: 5/1

Relegation Odds: 10/1

Port Vale

Three Frenchmen, a Swede, three Portuguese, two Dutch blokes and a guy from Curacao. It sounds like the beginning of a bizarre tale, but it is the sum of Port Vale's transfer activity this summer - including the arrival of defender Carlos Saleiro, the first person in Portugal to be born following IVF treatment. Vale are second favourites to taste relegation from League One this season yet their chairman, in true Football Manager-esque style last week revealed he expects the club to challenge for the top six.

In: Nathan Ferguson (Burton), Sebastian Amoros and Anthony de Freitas (Monaco), Kiko and Paolo Tavares (Vitoria Setubal), Carlos Saleiro (Oriental de Lisboa), Kjell Knops (MVV Maastricht), Regino Cicilia (Roda JC), Christopher Mbamba (Hamarkameratene), Jerome Thomas (Rotherham), Anton Forrester (Blackburn), Calvin Mac-Intisch (SC Cambuur), Quentin Pereira (Epernay Champagne)

Out: Michael O'Connor (Notts County), Ryan McGivern, Louis Dodds and AJ Leitch Smith (Shrewsbury) - and you'd hope a lot more, after that lot above

Manager: Bruno Ribeiro

Promotion Odds: 7/4

Relegation Odds: 16/1


Yet another side to sign a former Bolton player is Rochdale, who have brought in Sanmi Odelusi on a season-long loan deal from Wigan. They were also wise enough to release veteran striker Grant Holt, who duly became that eagle-eyed talent spotter Neil Lennon's first signing at Hibs.

In: Harrison McGahey (Sheffield United), Sanmi Odelusi (loan, Wigan), Oliver Rathbone (Man United), Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe)

Out: Lewis Alessandra (Hartlepool), Grant Holt (Hibernian), Nyal Bell (Gateshead), Oliver Lancashire (Shrewsbury)

Manager: Keith Hill

Promotion Odds: 10/1

Relegation Odds: 4/1

Scunthorpe United

While many clubs have gone on summers of rebuilding, Scunthorpe have kept things fairly quiet in pre-season. The major addition to the squad has been Walsall midfielder Sam Mantom, with no notable player sales, and a season of mid-table mediocrity is suggested by their middle of the road odds on both promotion and relegation.

In: Duane Holmes (Huddersfield), Sam Mantom (Walsall), Josh Morris (Bradford)

Out: Gary McSheffrey (Doncaster)

Manager: Gary Alexander

Promotion Odds: 6/1

Relegation Odds: 6/1

Sheffield United

Wanderers' first opponents back in the third tier are being widely tipped to make a well overdue return to the Championship. New boss Chris Wilder has strengthened his squad with Brentford defender Jack O'Connell and promising midfielder John Fleck, as well as bringing in two Bury players.

In: Leon Clarke and Chris Hussey (Bury), James Wilson (Oldham), Jack O'Connell (Brentford), John Fleck (Coventry), Mark Duffy (Birmingham)

Out: Jay McEveley (Ross County), Harrison McGahey (Rochdale), Florent Cuvelier (Walsall)

Manager: Chris Wilder

Promotion Odds: 2/1

Relegation Odds: 40/1

Shrewsbury Town

Shrewsbury are another side to bring in a former Bolton man, by signing academy product Joe Riley - a man who once broke the Bolton appearance record for me on Football Manager - from Bury, as well as taking advantage of the crazy goings-on at Port Vale with three new signings. They rank among the likely candidates for relegation this season.

In: Joe Riley (Bury), Jim O'Brien (Coventry), Ryan McGivern, Louis Dodds and AJ Leitch Smith (Port Vale), Oliver Lancashire (Rochdale), Adam El-Abd (Bristol City), Gary Deegan (Southend)

Out: Nathaniel Knight-Percival (Bradford), Matt Tootle (Notts County), Antoni Sarcevic (Fleetwood)

Manager: Micky Mellon

Promotion Odds: 14/1

Relegation Odds: 10/3


Boss Phil Brown was widely tipped by many to be the new Bolton manager this season, but he has remained for another season in Essex. Brown has pulled off somewhat of a coup by snapping up former Reading striker Simon Cox, but seen highly rated goalkeeper Daniel Bentley join Brentford. The Essex side has brought in no fewer than six new signings yet still only has two recognised strikers on its books, and it looks like the bookies don't fancy their chances this season.

In: Simon Cox (Reading), Mark Oxley (Hibernian), Jason Demetriou (Walsall), Jermaine McGlashan (Gillingham), Harry Kyprianou (Watford), Jakub Sokolik (Yeovil)

Out: Daniel Bentley (Brentford), Myles Weston (Wycombe), Kevan Hurst (Mansfield), Luke Prosser (Colchester), Franck Moussa (Walsall)

Manager: Phil Brown

Promotion Odds: 10/1

Relegation Odds: 9/2

Swindon Town

Swindon have suffered the loss of star striker Nicky Ajose to League One newbies Charlton, but brought in colourful character Lawrence Vigouroux from Liverpool. The Chilean goalkeeper played on loan at the County Ground last season and paid a £50 fine for turning up late to training in one pence pieces. A lack of summer activity sees Swindon among the favourites for relegation this campaign.

In: Lawrence Vigouroux (Liverpool), John Goddard (Woking)

Out: Nicky Ajose (Charlton), Tyrell Belford (loan, Southport), Miles Storey (Aberdeen), Michael Smith (Portsmouth)

Manager: Luke Williams

Promotion Odds: 14/1

Relegation Odds: 5/2


Walsall saw star striker Tom Bradshaw leave the club for newly promoted Barnsley this summer, but in return broke their club transfer record - which had stood since 1979 - with a deal for 20-year-old Cyprus international striker Andreas Makris. The clubv has made no less than ten transfers this summer as they look to push for promotion this season,

In: Andreas Makris (Anorthosis Famagusta), Josh Ginnelly (loan, Burnley), Simeon Jackson (Blackburn), Franck Moussa (Southend), Theo Vassell (Oldham), Erhun Oztumer (Peterborough), Florent Cuvelier (Sheffield United), Joe Edwards (Colchester), Kacy Milan Butterfield (unattached), Jason McCarthy (loan, Southampton)

Out: Tom Bradshaw (Barnsley), Jordan Cook (Luton), Liam Roberts (loan, Chester), Romain Sawyers (Brentford), Andy Taylor (Blackpool), Sam Mantom (Scunthorpe)

Manager: Jon Whitney

Promotion Odds: 13/2

Relegation Odds: 5/1

Bookies Relegation Favourites:

Oldham, Port Vale, Bury, Swindon, Chesterfield

Bookies' Promotion Favourites:

Sheffield United, Millwall, Charlton, MK Dons, Bradford