The new League One season is nearly here and sure to be another exciting campaign!
Our football tipster Joe Citrone has put together his 2023/24 preview, complete with 1-24 predictions and recommended ante-post bets.
If you enjoy this, click here to check out our 1-24 preview for the Championship!
Also, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming League Two 1-24 preview! 👀
Portsmouth are my pick to win the League One title this season.
On top of what was already a fairly strong squad for the level, which arguably underperformed last season, Portsmouth have been able to recruit a plethora of talent which should put them right in the mix for promotion.
There have been some really eye-catching additions, the likes of Anthony Scully and Gavin Whyte should provide pace and drive in the final-third, but the signing of versatile defender Regan Poole is particularly impressive as many assumed he’d be headed to the Championship after leaving Lincoln City.
It is true that they have an inexperienced Head Coach in John Mousinho, but I think there was enough in the time he had at Pompey last season to suggest that he has the makings of a really good, up-and-coming, progressive manager.
After a few near-misses in recent years, I think this is Pompey’s season.
Portsmouth to win the League One title – currently
2. Bolton Wanderers
Bolton went close to promotion last season, narrowly missing out in the play-offs, but I think the moves they’ve made this summer should be enough to get them over the line.
Ian Evatt is a manager that I really like. His Barrow team was nicknamed ‘Barrowcelona’ for their attacking, vibrant, tiki-taka style and he has really gone on to cement himself as a top EFL coach with the impressive rebuild job he’s done at Bolton over the last three years.
He has added to his squad this summer by adding two wing-backs in Josh Dacres-Cogley and Zac Ashworth, who should slot into their system seamlessly, and also exciting, unpredictable forward Carlos Mendes Gomes to their already very strong attacking options.
Northern Ireland international Dion Charles bagged 21 goals in all competitions for Wanderers last season and I expect him to take the division by storm again this year.
Bolton have only been heading in an upwards trajectory since Evatt came in and I expect that to continue this season with a second-place finish and automatic-promotion back to the Championship.
3. Derby County
In Paul Warne, Derby County have the ultimate League One promotion specialist having won three separate promotions from this level with former club Rotherham United.
That should stand them in good stead heading into this new season which Derby will be hoping goes differently than last season where a frustrating final day cost them a place in the play-offs.
They may have lost last season’s top goalscorer David McGoldrick to Notts County, but have been busy in the transfer market, adding players like Sonny Bradley and Conor Washington, who I would describe as firmly in the ‘Paul Warne mould’.
Former Forest Green Rovers player Kane Wilson is also a bit of a coup for Derby who, although has had a frustrating time with injuries at Bristol City, should slot nicely into that right wing-back role.
They are the current 4/1 favourites with starsports.bet to win the title, and I fully expect them to be up there, but I have them going into the play-offs with Bolton and Pompey pipping them to the top-two.
He’s back. Just over a year after walking out on the club to take the assistant manager’s position at Aston Villa, Neil Critchley has returned to Bloomfield Road following Blackpool’s relegation from the Championship.
Although it make some time for Critchley to win back around some supporters who were hurt by his departure, it is hard to argue that his return gives their promotion prospects a huge boost heading into this new season.
Losing Jerry Yates is a blow, although not wholly unexpected, but the industrious and hard-working Kyle Joseph is a strong addition up-front. Midfielder Oliver Norburn, who joins from Peterborough United, is also a signing that I like.
Owen Dale returns to the club after a season on loan at Portsmouth and I think he could flourish as could players like Andy Lyons and Shayne Lavery who should look good at this level.
5. Charlton Athletic
It has been a rough couple of years for Charlton Athletic, but there is hope that a much better season could be on the horizon after the recent change in ownership.
Dean Holden was a slightly eyebrow-raising appointment when he was named Addicks boss in March, but his forthright, straight-talking style won over Charlton supporters and also yielded an uptick in results.
They have been busy in the transfer window, making no less than five new signings at the time of writing, with Cheltenham Town’s former talisman Alfie May arguably the headline addition.
I’m liking Charlton’s chances of getting back amongst the chasing pack in League One and have placed them in fifth-position.
Charlton Athletic to finish in the top-six – currently
Things haven’t exactly gone Barnsley’s way this summer, but their recent moves suggest that another play-off campaign could be on the horizon for the Tykes.
Neill Collins is an interesting replacement for Michael Duff, who decided to depart for Swansea City after one season in charge, with the 39-year-old’s managerial experience thus far coming in the USL Championship with Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Some interesting additions have been made to their squad as well. Getting Max Watters back from Cardiff City is a huge boost as is tying down midfielder Luca Connell to a new long-term contract.
I have them just sneaking into the play-off positions.
7. Oxford United
Oxford United had an utterly torrid 2022/23 campaign but with Liam Manning now at the helm, there is fresh hope and optimism at Grenoble Road.
Under ex-boss Karl Robinson, keeping goals out was always an issue, but they looked tighter at the back under Manning towards the end of last season and have bolstered their defensive options by signing Jordan Thorniley and Fin Stevens as well as a new goalkeeper in James Beadle.
The main problem last season was at the other end though, scoring just 49 goals in 46 games, and the U’s still need to bolster their attacking options. That said, they have made a solid start by signing Ruben Rodrigues and Mark Harris from Notts County and Cardiff City respectively.
At the time of writing, Cameron Brannagan is still an Oxford United player and it appears as if the Yellows will be able to keep him for at least another season. If he is able to perform to his best consistently, United have one of the top midfield players in the league among their ranks.
I am backing the U’s to significantly improve on last season’s dismal effort, but I think it might be too much of an ask for them to reach the play-offs.
8. Lincoln City
Lincoln City made some steady progress under rookie boss Mark Kennedy last season, but will be hoping to kick on and push towards the play-off positions this term.
Despite losing a couple of important players – defender Regan Poole to Portsmouth and goalkeeper Carl Rushworth back to Brighton from his loan spell – I think Kennedy and co have done a solid job of replacing them and strengthening the squad so far this summer.
Imps fans will know all about Tyler Walker, son of Des, from his previous loan spell with the club and – as long as he is able to stay fit – he should add some extra firepower and ease some of the pressure on Ben House.
I have Lincoln City in eighth-position.
9. Wycombe Wanderers
It still feels like Wycombe Wanderers are going through a transition after Gareth Ainsworth left his role as manager last season after over a decade at the helm.
Matt Bloomfield is now the man in charge and is no stranger to the club having made over 500 appearances for them as a player. Bloomfield got off to a rocky start after taking the reins in February but has more of a chance now to stamp his own authority and ideas on the club.
If Wycombe continue with their wing-back system, I think Harry Boyes as a loan signing from Sheffield United could be the perfect replacement for the departing Jordan Obita on the left side. Right wing-back Kane Vincent-Young, who impressed on trial, could also be a shrewd signing if he is able to put his injury struggles behind him.
I envisage another strong, solid campaign for the Chairboys but fear the competition this season might be too great for them to mount a serious play-off push.
10. Burton Albion
My ‘dark horse’ pick for League One this season is Burton Albion who ended last season in decent form and have made some very interesting additions to their squad this summer.
Dino Maamria is a notoriously hard task-master and did a superb job in dragging the Brewers away from relegation trouble last season after a disastrous start to the campaign under former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
The Tunisian will now be keen to carry that momentum into this campaign and push Burton Albion up the table and I think they are more than capable of doing that.
They have lost a couple of important players in Conor Shaughnessy and Terry Taylor, but have made some exciting moves themselves with Cole Stockton the headline signing who should provide plenty of goals.
11. Peterborough United
Unfortunately, following their remarkable collapse to Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-offs last season, I see a drop-off for Peterborough United this term.
The business they have conducted so far looks interesting. I am particularly intrigued to see how new signing Ryan De Havilland fares following an excellent season in the National League with Barnet, but financial constraints have held them back from doing as much as I’m sure they’d like to.
I also fear the players they have lost will hurt them and I am still sceptical over the permanent return of Darren Ferguson as manager.
Jack Taylor is a big loss to Ipswich Town, Frankie Kent’s departure to Hearts is also a blow and it looks as if young defender Ronnie Edwards might be the next one out the door.
An 11th-place finish is my prediction.
12. Bristol Rovers
Following a dramatic final-day promotion into League One in the 2021/22 season, Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers managed to consolidate themselves back into the third-tier last term.
Now the hope is that, with a few strong additions, they will be able to push on and become a more competitive force this season and I have been impressed by what they have been able to do so far in the transfer market.
The signing of Jevani Brown, although a controversial one due to his recent criminal conviction for assault, should provide extra firepower and getting creative midfielder Luke Thomas back on a permanent deal feels like a real coup.
A lot will depend on whether they can keep hold of Aaron Collins but, as it stands, I am backing the Gas to enjoy a solid campaign in League One this season. 12th-place.
13. Leyton Orient
The 2022/23 season was one to remember for Leyton Orient as they romped home to the League Two title with the dark days of Francesco Becchetti’s ownership now firmly in their rear-view mirror.
Frustratingly for the O’s, they have lost a couple of players who crucial to that title win with pacy forward Paul Smyth joining QPR and goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux earning a deal with Premier League side Burnley.
However, I have been impressed with the way Richie Wellens has gone about replacing them and strengthening their squad over the last few weeks. Following his impressive season with Crewe Alexandra, plenty of clubs were after the signature of striker Dan Agyei but the O’s managed to secure it.
They have also managed to lure midfielder Idris El Mizouni back on loan and secured a top Vigouroux replacement in Sol Brynn after his strong campaign with Swindon Town.
Orient will be fine this season. I have them in 13th.
Reading are a hard team to place because, although they have managed to do some smart business in the transfer market following their relegation from the Championship, so much is still up in the air off the field for the Royals.
The signings of Harvey Knibbs and Sam Smith, both arriving from Cambridge United, are both sensible pieces of business as is the addition of creative midfielder Lewis Wing who opted for a move to the Madjeski Stadium over signing for Championship side QPR.
However, off-field calamities seem to be undermining the work of Mark Bowen and new manager Ruben Selles at every corner. The latest development at the time of writing is that Reading have been placed under another transfer embargo for a late HMRC payment.
The off-field disruptions mean that, despite some of the good work done by Bowen and co, I have Reading in the bottom-half of the table.
15. Wigan Athletic
Similarly to Reading, Wigan Athletic’s preparations for this new campaign have been plagued by off-field issues and, as a result, the Latics will be beginning this season on -8 points due to late wage payments.
In recent days at the time of writing, two players – Jack Whatmough and Jamie McGrath – have torn up their contracts due to ‘repeated contractual breaches’ under the Latics’ previous ownership.
Whatmough, in particular, feels like a blow as he would have been a top player at this level but Wigan have still managed to do some sensible business. Sean Clare, Matt Smith and Jonny Smith – all with League One experience – have come on board as has a player from Bayern Munich in centre-back Liam Morrison.
There has been a big player turnover from last season but target man Charlie Wyke is still there at the moment and he has proven himself to be a real handful at this level.
However, the off-field disruptions will hurt them and obviously so will the points deduction. I have Wigan languishing in the bottom-half of the table, but hopefully this season can be the start of the rebuilding process.
Stevenage are back in League One for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign after Steve Evans guided them to automatic-promotion from League Two last season.
With Evans at the helm, who has proven himself over the years to be – albeit a controversial figure – a very astute operator in the lower-leagues and I expect him to guide Stevenage clear of any relegation danger.
Their transfer business consists largely of experienced, solid League One players – which include both Louis and Nathan Thompson – which will suit Evans down to the ground.
I have placed Stevenage in 16th-place – which I am sure their supporters would be happy with in their first season back at this level.
17. Cheltenham Town
I think many people had Cheltenham Town in the relegation-zone in their predictions for last season, but rookie boss Wade Elliott proved the doubters wrong by keeping the Robins in League One fairly comfortably.
Will he be able to repeat the trick again this season in a fiercely competitive division? Well, I certainly think so.
Although they have lost a very important player in talismanic striker Alfie May, I think Aidan Keena – who joined from Sligo Rovers in January – has shown the qualities he possesses and could be in for a big season if he can hit the ground running.
Goalkeeper Luke Southwood has also returned on a one-year deal and Curtis Davies, 38, will add experience, know-how and leadership to the defence.
It won’t be easy of course, but I have Elliott guiding Cheltenham to safety again.
18. Fleetwood Town
Scott Brown showed decent promise in his first full season as a manager, guiding Fleetwood Town to a solid 13th-place finish in League One and an impressive victory over QPR in the FA Cup.
However, and I feel like this is starting to become a bit of a theme, disruptions off the pitch have threatened to derail the progress that had been made under Brown in his debut season at the Highbury Stadium.
In July, chairman Andy Pilley – who has held the role since 2004 when the Cod Army were in the depths of non-league – was jailed for 13 years for a multi-million-pound fraud.
Pilley stepped down as chairman following his conviction and the club have since insisted that it’s business as usual at the Highbury Stadium, but it’s hard to see how this situation will not cause immense disruption.
They have added to their squad reasonably well this summer, Danny Mayor and Ryan Broom in particular look like shrewd pieces of business, so I do have them surviving but with a drop-off from last term.
19. Port Vale
I must admit, the way Port Vale ended last season had me worried about their prospects heading into this campaign, but some smart recruitment has shifted my opinion on them slightly.
I like the way they have combined some good, youthful up-and-comers – with the likes of Tom Sang coming in from Cardiff City and Ethan Chislett joining from AFC Wimbledon – and some more experienced campaigners like midfield anchor-man Jason Lowe and accomplished shot-stopper Conor Ripley.
The big question mark is over manager Andy Crosby who, although has had two separate spells as interim boss, is inexperienced in the role and may struggle to live up to the achievements of previous incumbent Darrell Clarke.
This is going to be a competitive league so I do still have them struggling, but I do have them surviving.
20. Carlisle United
Manager Paul Simpson admitted earlier this summer to experiencing difficulty in the transfer market since promotion from League Two via the play-offs and that they had been beaten to a few targets.
I feel like they’ve put those struggles behind them since then and been able to do some decent business. Dan Butterworth is an underrated signing in attack, Dylan McGeoch should provide composure and leadership in the middle of the park and Sam Lavelle strengthens their defensive options.
The main reason I feel Carlisle will survive this season, though, is down to one man and that is Simpson. He has made at enormous impact at Brunton Park since returning to the club in February 2022 and, with ‘Simmo’ at the helm, I can see Carlisle continuing to punch above their weight and prove doubters wrong.
21. Exeter City
Is this the ‘hot take’ of the preview? It might just be. I am predicting Exeter City to be relegated from League One this season.
Exeter City had a decent first campaign back in League One last season, initially under Matt Taylor before he went to Rotherham and Gary Caldwell took the reins in October of last year.
However, they did suffer a late-season slump which saw them lose seven of their last eight games and slide right down the table. I don’t think that bodes well at all leading into this campaign.
They have also lost some important players from their squad with Jack Sparkes departing for Portsmouth, Josh Key moving to Swansea City and Jevani Brown swapping the red and white stripes of Exeter for the blue and white quarters of Bristol Rovers.
Jay Stansfield, who enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at St James Park last season, has also gone back to parent club Fulham which leaves them looking a bit short at the top of the pitch.
They have been busy in the transfer market, making no less than seven additions to their squad at the time of writing, but nothing that makes me think that they will pull away from danger this season.
22. Shrewsbury Town
Ever heard of the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? Well, that is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Shrewsbury Town heading into this season.
Micky Moore was appointed as the club’s first-ever Director of Football in May and has wasted no time in revamping the club from top to bottom.
Steve Cotterill, a hugely popular figure within the club, was axed as manager and has since been replaced by Matty Taylor whose only managerial experience to date is an uninspiring spell in charge of Walsall in League Two.
The players that they have brought in, the likes of Taylor Perry from Wolves, are all geared towards transforming the style of play to be more progressive and potentially more possession-based.
That’s all well and good, and I wish them well in doing that, but I do fear it might all be too much change too soon for the Salop. I have them going down in 22nd-place.
23. Northampton Town
After narrowly missing out on promotion in the 2021/22 season, Jon Brady’s men managed to get themselves over the line last term by securing automatic-promotion from League Two and a return to the third-tier of English football.
They have made a few additions to their squad so far this summer. Getting Kieron Bowie back on loan is a solid piece of business as is the recent signing of Tyreece Simpson on loan from Huddersfield Town as they look to ease the goalscoring burden on Sam Hoskins.
However, looking at their squad, I’m not convinced it is enough to keep them at the level and I have question marks over whether boss Brady can step up to the level.
24. Cambridge United
Sorry, Cambridge United fans. I have you as my bottom club in League One this season.
Mark Bonner’s men managed to pull off the great escape from relegation last season, beating Forest Green Rovers 2-0 on the final day to leapfrog Morecambe and MK Dons in dramatic circumstances, but I don’t see them being as fortunate this time around.
Looking at their squad ahead of this campaign, I just don’t see enough to get them out of trouble. The losses of Harvey Knibbs, Sam Smith and Lloyd Jones leave some huge gaps in their squad and I’m afraid to say that I haven’t been blown away by the transfer business they’ve conducted so far.
Their one hope is Bonner, who is a manager I do rate relatively highly, but I just don’t think it’s going to be enough for them this season.
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PROFIT/LOSS (JULY 2023): LOSS -49.61 points