Ipswich among 13 sides competing for promotion in 'Championship 2'

Peterborough United Manager Steve Evans during the Skybet League One match Roots Hall, Southend.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans says 13 clubs will be 'expected to compete for automatic promotion' in League One next season. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Gillingham boss Steve Evans believes Ipswich Town are one of 13 clubs 'expected to compete for automatic promotion' in League One this coming season.

Evans, whose side have finished 13th and 10th in the division over the last two seasons,  told Kent Online: “With a number of Championship clubs struggling financially it appears to me the big spenders and gamblers are in League One.

“I offer only extreme caution as the last thing we need is the likes of Bolton Wanderers (administration) and Bury (expelled from the Football League) happening more often.

“EFL One has Sunderland, Charlton, Rotherham, Wycombe, Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic, Oxford United, Shrewsbury Town, Doncaster Rovers and Plymouth Argyle all expected to compete for automatic promotion.

“So our task to improve on last season’s 10th place finish is a huge ask given the resources, but we will be organised, efficient and we will also have a number of exceptional players in our squad.

“We will find a way to be competitive. The challenge is exciting in a league that many are now describing as a Championship 2.”

Paul Cook has had his players back at Playford Road this week

Paul Cook is completely rebuilding the Ipswich Town squad following last season's ninth-place finish in League One. Photo: ITFC - Credit: ITFC

Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe were the three sides relegated from the Championship at the end of last season.

Rotherham know what it takes to get promoted at this level having done so twice in recent years, while Sheffield Wednesday are operating under a transfer embargo after failing to pay players on time.

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Sunderland, Lincoln and Oxford United all finished in the play-off places last season, though Evans doesn't list Lincoln as one of the 13 clubs 'expected' to compete for a top two spot.

Ipswich Town (ninth last season) and Wigan (20th las season) are now under new ownership, as are the aforementioned Sunderland.

Charlton finished last season strongly after their own mid-season takeover, just missing out on a top six spot.

Portsmouth have spoken about operating on a reduced budget following their eighth-place finish, while Shrewsbury (17th), Doncaster (14th) and Plymouth (18th) all finished in the bottom half in 2020/21.   

Bolton stormed their way to League Two promotion under Ian Evatt last season and will be hoping to carry some momentum into the season.

Seven of the clubs in League One next season have played in the Premier League since 2000 (Bolton, Charlton, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wigan), with a further four (Burton, Doncaster, Plymouth and Rotherham) having had more than one season at Championship level in that time.

Gillingham (04/05), MK Dons (15/16) and Wycombe (20/21) have all had brief flirtations with the Championship since 2000.