The Scottish League Division One kicks-off the new season with more focus on the division than ever before, thanks to the presence of Glasgow Rangers, as they continue the steps towards regaining their place in the top flight after all their problems. It also features Dunfermline Athletic, who lost to Alloa Athletic in the relegation play-off, due in part to their financial state which caused them to be penalized fifteen points by the Scottish FA.
Well, like my Scottish Premier League post recently, it’s a Glasgow side that is massively odds-on to win the Division One title and promotion. Rangers are just 1/12 with Ladbrokes to secure the division, and despite the internal turmoil the club is still in, they shouldn’t have any issues on the pitch. They started with a 3-0 away to Albion Rovers in the Challenge Cup, but were embarrassed by Forfar Athletic after extra time in the League Cup in mid-week.
The side that cruised to the old Division Three title is fairly unchanged, due in part to transfer issues and embargoes. However they have lost Carlos Bocanegra, Dorin Goian and finally booted Francisco Sandaza out, after the phone call scandal. They did manage to bring in Jonathan Daly from Dundee United and goalkeeper Cammie Bell from Kilmarnock, but in all honesty the squad should be good enough to win. There were issues with signings not being allowed to play in the Challenge Cup, and it still remains to be seen if this will be the same elsewhere.
Winner Without Rangers
With the blue half of Glasgow so short priced, a “Winner Without Rangers” market has been created. Here are the contenders for this market.
Brechin City are 7/2 with Bet Victor to win without Rangers. The Glebe Park club look the pick of the bunch in what is a very tight market. Brechin finished in third place last season, and were knocked out of the semi-final play-off. They would certainly have been title favourites, if not for the “Gers” but I can see a successful play-off campaign coming their way if they can sort themselves out defensively.
They have brought in nineteen year old midfielder, Chris Tobin from St.Johnstone and Stuart Anderson from Raith Rovers to name a few, in whats been a fairly busy transfer windows so far for them. They have had a poor start so far however, with defeats to Stranraer and Peterhead in the cup competitions, but this really shouldn’t be any more than a blip at the start of a long season.
Next up are Airdrieonians at 6/1 with SkyBet. Airdrie finished bottom of the Championship last season, twelve points adrift and having conceded eighty-nine goals. Unsurprisingly, the club have been busy in the transfer window, bringing in eight new faces, including a new keeper as they look to repair a defence that was colander-like at best. So far things seem to be going the right way, with wins against Hamilton Academicals and Stenhousemuir in Cup games, although they did still concede four in those matches. I think 6/1 is a little short, especially if they still concede, even sixty percent of the goals they shipped last year.
Ayr United are also 6/1 with bet365. They finished nine points above the relegation play-off places, and will be looking to improve on last years seventh place, this time around. The Somerset Park club have started okay, with a victory over Queens Park in the Challenge Cup, followed by a narrow 1-2 defeat to Premier League new boys Partick Thistle, away from home. Its been a case of four in and four out so far with Craig Malcolm’s signing from Stranraer being the stand out. The striker had amassed forty-nine league goals in the last three seasons and could well be a major asset for his new club.
Stranraer are 7/2 favourites to go down, with Bet Victor. The side that finished just outside the relegation play-offs, look destined for the drop this time, especially with financial issues too. All the supplementary players brought into the squad have joined on a free or on loan, with the highlight being, Martin Grehan’s return to the club. They have started surprisingly well, with 4-2 and 4-3 victories in the cup competitions, but that will be an unwelcome diversion from the main job in hand, survival. Bankers for me.
The only other team that could “challenge” for the wooden spoon, are Stenhousemuir, at 5/1 with Paddy Power. Despite the side finishing in relative mid table safety, they have seen the sides below them invest, and the new additions to the division have vastly better squads.
Out of half a dozen signings, former Falkirk striker, Sean Higgins is the biggest and most surprising, however I don’t feel this will be enough for a team that drew too many matches last year. Stenhousemuir look like they are going to be found wanting defensively this year too, as has already been shown in two cup games which ended 4-4 and 3-4 respectively. This needs to change if they wish to avoid a return to the bottom tier.