League One line-up confirmed: A look at mileage, early odds, star men and some familiar faces
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 May 2019
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Ipswich Town now know the 23 teams they will be up against in League One next season. STUART WATSON looks at mileage, early odds and familiar faces.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2018/19
Luton Town showed the power of momentum in securing back-to-back promotions. They followed up a second-place finish in League Two by storming to the League One title, despite manager Nathan Jones having been poached by Stoke City at the start of January. Experienced caretaker boss Mick Harford carried on the good work.
Barnsley bounced straight back at the first time of asking with a young squad, the average age of their starting XI being under 24. They took second-spot after Sunderland and Portsmouth faltered as the finish line got in sight.
Sunderland, playing in the third-tier for the first time since 1987, had started the campaign as the short-odds favourites to go up.
Despite receiving £34m in their second year of parachute payments, Jack Ross' men finished fifth - six points adrift of the automatic promotion spots - and went into the lottery of the play-offs.
They beat Portsmouth in the semi-finals, gaining revenge for a Checkatrade Trophy Final defeat at Wembley, while Charlton beat Doncaster on penalties after a classic two-legged affair which finished 4-4.
Yesterday, at Wembley, it was Lee Bowyer's men who were victorious, battling back from a calamitous opening goal to win 2-1 in injury-time.
Burton ended up ninth following relegation from the Championship, while Peterborough finished a point outside the top-six.
There was just as much drama at the bottom end of the table. Going into the final few weeks there was little to separate a dozen teams. In the end there was a four-way battle royale to avoid the drop on the final day, with a late Southend winner against Sunderland seeing them stay up and Plymouth go down.
JOINING TOWN IN LEAGUE ONE
Rotherham and Bolton joined Town in being relegated from the Championship.
The Millers, who put up a really good fight in trying to beat the drop, look well equipped to bounce straight back just as they did in 2017/18.
Bolton, meanwhile, look in a real mess. They've gone to the High Court over an unpaid tax bill on several occasions and, with a takeover seemingly still no closer to happening, could well start next season with a 12-point deduction. Lincoln City's rise under the Cowley brothers continued as they won League Two. That's now two promotions in three seasons.
Bury claimed the other automatic promotion spot but, like Bolton, face major financial difficulties. The players recently called upon chairman Steve Dale to walk away from the club after going 12 weeks without pay.
Tranmere Rovers will be joining them in League One after making it back-to-back promotions via the play-offs. After finishing sixth, they beat Forest Green Rovers in the semis and then Newport County in the final, Connor Jennings scoring a 119th minute winner at Wembley on Saturday.
ODDS FOR 2019/20
Few bookmakers are offering odds on League One next season at this moment in time.
betway make Sunderland early favourites to be outright winners at 6/1, just ahead of Ipswich and Portsmouth at 7/1.
Coming in next are Rotherham, Peterborough and Lincoln - odds for them varying between 8/1 and 16/1 - with Coventry (eighth last season), Burton, Oxford (12th), Fleetwood (11th) and MK Dons (promoted from League Two) the next batch of teams, all at around 20/1.
AFC Wimbledon, Bolton, Bury, Wycombe, Accrington Stanley and Gillingham are tipped to be fighting the drop.
MARGINALLY MORE MILES Southend staying up and Plymouth going down was a blessing in terms of travel. Charlton beating Sunderland subsequently saw the mileage go up.
In total, the Blues will travel 8,212 miles over the course of the regular league campaign next season - an increase of 97 miles on the season just gone.
The shortest five trips are Southend, illingham, Peterborough, MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon, while the longest are Fleetwood, Blackpool, Sunderland, Tranmere and Accrington Stanley.
Town ended up travelling 9,137 miles last season due to cup trips to Exeter and Accrington. It remains to be seen if they pass that figure this time around. Remember, the Blues will enter the FA Cup at the first round stage and will have extra games in the Checkatrade Trophy.
NB: Coventry could yet end up groundsharing with Birmingham if negotiations with the Ricoh Arena owners fail.
ROUND TRIPS (miles): Southend (114), Gillingham (182), Peterborough (183), MK Dons (199), AFC Wimbledon (221), Wycombe (231), Coventry (265), Oxford Utd (277), Lincoln (295), Portsmouth (317), Burton (333), Doncaster (340), Rotherham ( 361), Shrewsbury (385), Bristol Rovers (413), Rochdale (459), Bury (472), Bolton (491), Accrington (497), Tranmere (500), Sunderland (533), Blackpool (558), Fleetwood (566).
It's hard to say, given transfer season is still to hot up.
Portsmouth are battling to keep hold of two of their star men - former Blues defender Matt Clarke is strongly linked to Brighton, while Leeds and West Brom are said to be interested in winger Jamal Lowe.
Gillingham striker Tom Eaves - who has scored 40 goals in 97 games for the club - is out of contract and weighing up his options. It remains to be seen if midfielder Marcus Maddison remains at Peterborough as he heads into the final year of his deal.
Tricky winger Aiden McGeady won Sunderland's Player of the Year. The Black Cats paid £4m to sign striker Will Grigg from Wigan in January.
There weren't many players from outside of the three promoted clubs who were named in the PFA League One Team of the Year - one was Doncaster striker John Marquis. The 26-year-old has now scored 67 goals over the last three seasons.
Former Colchester forward Ian Henderson, 34, has consistently scored goals at this level for the last five seasons.
There are a few ex-Town players in League One.
Grant Leadbitter joined Sunderland in January, Brett Pitman scored 13 goals for Portsmouth last season, while Luke Hyam endured an injury-hit debut campaign at Southend.
MORE: Ipswich Town transfer talk: Portsmouth set to reignite interest in Town striker Harrison Town academy graduates Ed Upson and Matt Bloomfield are at Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers respectively.
Anthony Wordsworth, who never really made the breakthrough at Town following a £100k move from Colchester, is at AFC Wimbledon, as is Irish midfielder Shane McLoughlin following his recent release by the Blues.
Experienced goalkeepers Stephen Bywater and Lewis Price are playing back-up roles at Burton and Rotherham respectively.
Ex-Town loanee winger Liam Feeney is at Blackpool, while Jordan Graham - who had a brief spell with the Blues in the season just gone - could sign for Oxford United permanently following a loan spell from Wolves.
Ben Pringle helped Tranmere to League Two promotion on loan from Preston and could now sign for them as a free agent.
OTHER NAMES YOU MAY RECOGNISE Sunderland midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole has a couple of big transfer fees on his CV.
Midfielder James Coppinger has been at Doncaster for years. He's 38 now.
Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans scored 17 goals for Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town last season.
Former Norwich City duo Aaron Wilbraham and Russell Martin are at Rochdale and MK Dons respectively.
Southend have a trio of former Championship stalwarts in Michael Turner, Michael Kightly and Simon Cox.
Nicky Maynard and Neil Danns helped Bury to League Two promotion, former Wales international Dave Edwards is at Shrewsbury, while the larger-than-life Adebayo Akinfenwa is still scoring goals for Wycombe at 37.