West Ham have been installed as 3/2 favourites to win promotion from the Championship via the play-offs.
The Hammers’ faint hopes of snatching second place from Southampton on the final day of the regular season were dashed as the Saints sealed their Premier League return with a 4-0 win over relegated Coventry.
Upton Park has not always been a happy place this term, but the bwin bookmakers have made it clear they are expecting West Ham to bounce back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Punters successfully backing them to do so with their free £25 bet for registering with bwin will win £62.50.
But first, the Hammers must get through what promises to be a fiery two-legged semi-final against Cardiff City, who finished seventh and are the 17/4 outsiders for promotion.
The Welsh outfit will have home advantage in the first meeting between the sides on Thursday and are priced at 13/5 to build a lead, with West Ham given the same odds and the draw available at 11/5.
Meanwhile, the teams who finished fourth and fifth respectively, Birmingham City and Blackpool, will lock horns in the other semi-final, with the first leg taking place at Bloomfield Road 24 hours later.
The Tangerines, who know exactly what to expect from this shoot-out situation having won the 2010 play-off final against Cardiff, are a 3/1 shot to repeat that success.
In terms of their clash with Blues – who are priced at 13/5 to gain promotion – Ian Holloway’s men are 27/20 favourites to win on home soil, with the draw at 9/4 and Birmingham pegged at 19/10.
Punters with long memories will certainly be expecting the unexpected from this year’s play-offs, but with West Ham arguably boasting the best squad of the four teams competing, the smart money is surely on them to prevail.
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