Number 2 Trophy Close Up

Who Will Gain Promotion from League Two in 2023-24 with the Title Race Set To Be Thriller?

Outside England, few fans care about the Football League, the three divisions beneath the globally adored Premier League. And that interest certainly wanes the lower down the football pyramid we go. Even in this country, relatively few people take much notice of League 2, the fourth tier of English football. Or, at least, that is normally the case.

However, there are several reasons why League 2 is more interesting than perhaps ever before right now. First, it is packed with historically big clubs, such as Stockport County, Wrexham, Notts County, Bradford City, Tranmere Rovers and Grimsby Town. Two of the 24 teams have even played in the Premier League, Bradford and Swindon, and four have average attendances in 2023/24 of more than 9,000. To illustrate just how good the division’s attendances are, the table below shows the top three from League 2 and the bottom three from the Premier League.

Premier League – Lowest 3 League Two – Highest 3
18th, Brentford, 17,059 1st, Bradford City, 17,845
19th, Bournemouth, 11,000 2nd, Notts County, 11,345
20th, Luton, 10,922 3rd, Wrexham, 10,575

Another huge reason for the increased interest in League 2, both on these shores, and especially globally (and more specifically in the USA), is Wrexham. Since the excellent Welcome To Wrexham docuseries, the Welsh club has been adopted by many football supporters as their unofficial second side. Moreover, due to being co-owned by US film and TV stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, they have proved a big hit in the States.

However, the focus of this article is another reason for the surge in interest in League 2. This has probably had more of an impact on long-term fans of the sport and hardcore supporters who just love all football. And it is the simple fact that the division is just so exciting this year, with a potential five-way fight for the title. With the top three earning automatic promotion, the battle for those three places is almost certainly going to go to the wire, and that has got more and more fans watching the fourth-tier battle than ever before.

The Battle to be Crowned League Two Kings

At the time of writing all teams in League Two have played 26, 27 or 28 games out of the standard 46-game season. Just five points separate the top five but things could get even tighter and more exciting because the three teams beneath fifth-placed Barrow all have games in hand on the Cumbria outfit.

Depending on how results played out in the various games in hand each team has over the others, we could end up with eight clubs in the title race, or certainly in the mix for a top-three finish and thus automatic promotion to League One. However, for the sake of this piece, we will focus on the top five only. Right now, the current standings are as follows:

Position Team Played Points Goal Diff.
1 Stockport 27 54 +29
2 Wrexham 27 52 +17
3 Mansfield 26 50 +24
4 Crewe 28 50 +12
5 Barrow 28 49 +12

Correct prior to games on the 23rd of January 2024

Although our focus is very much on the five clubs in the table above, for the record, the three below are:

  • 6th) Notts County, Played 27, 43 Points
  • 7th) MK Dons, Played 26, 42 Points
  • 8th) Gillingham, Played 27, 42 Points

As we can see, things are really, really tight. In truth, we could be set for excellent finishes in three out of the four divisions this term in terms of who is crowned champions. Leicester City are looking very strong in the Championship, though that could change, but the Premier League and League One could certainly go to the wire. Anyway, back to League Two, and let us take a look at how the bookies see things.

Current League 2 Title and Automatic Promotion Odds

Coral League Two Outright Betting

As things stand, although the table looks very tight, the bookies have a very strong view of which teams have a great chance of winning League 2 and which are more likely to be battling for a top-three finish or the play-offs. The oddsmakers, who have more skin in the game than just about anyone else, make current leaders Stockport clear favourites for the title.

The North West outfit are priced at just 5/6, though some firms have them at the even skinnier odds-on price of just 4/5. Mansfield (23/10) and Wrexham (23/10) are not all that far behind but then there is a serious leap in the odds to Barrow, available at a massive 33/1. The Bluebirds are, as said, five points off top spot and have played a game more than both of the top two but even so, some may feel that 33/1 offers at least a little bit of value.

For an even longer-odds punt, how about Crewe at 100/1? The Alex actually beat Barrow 3-1 last time out, away from home, and having won three in a row triple-digit odds may strike some as being generous, to say the least. Or how about Notts County? The oldest professional football club in the world are 11 points adrift of leaders County but might 150/1 be the greatest bet you ever make … or money down the drain? They pushed Wrexham really hard last term before gaining promotion to the Football League via the play-offs, so they certainly have experience of a title chase.

Top Three Odds

Betfred League Two 2024 Top 3 Betting

Much as lifting the League Two-winners trophy would be a great achievement for any of these clubs, ultimately their main aim and number-one goal is simply promotion. Making the top three guarantees that and avoids the stress of the play-offs and once again the bookies are firmly favouring the top three.

Stockport (1/16), Mansfield (1/6) and Wrexham (1/4) are all very short odds-on prices in the “Top 3 Finish” market most bookies offer. For those less familiar with betting and odds, in other words that means the bookmakers give those three sides respectively around an 94.1%, 85.7% and 80.0% chance of finishing inside the top three spots respectively.

In contrast, Barrow are 9/4, Notts County 17/2 and Crewe Alexandra 17/2, with bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons both 12/1. Gillingham, despite currently being two places above Wimbledon, are out at a massive 100/1, with everyone else in the division that price or longer.

Who Will Win The Title?

Obviously if we knew the answer to this we would be able to make our fortune and set sail for the Bahamas but the future remains unknown unless anyone has a modified DeLorean handy. We can’t wait to see how it all pans out over the next three months but have the fates whispered a clue as to what might happen?

On the last day of the season, Wrexham host Stockport and might that be the game that decides the title? The Red Dragons played Notts County late in the season last term and got the result they needed to all but secure top spot. The Welsh side started this campaign with a mixed bag of results and won just four of their opening 11 games. However, they have settled into the Football League and we have a sneaky suspicion they might just do it.