IT’S only 67 days since the last ball was kicked in the Championship but the race for the £90m ticket to the top flight gets under way again tonight.
QPR made the leap in May but have been replaced among the London contingent in English football’s second tier by West Ham.
Big names abound – from former England managers Steve McClaren and Sven-Goran Eriksson to would-be national boss Sam Allardyce – while the harsh economic climate is sure to make it more competitive than ever.
First match Cardiff (H), Sunday
Players in Kevin Nolan, Abdoulaye Faye, Matthew Taylor, Joey O’Brien
Players out Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer, Manuel Da Costa, Radoslav Kovac, Demba Ba
Prospects Hammers have gambled on a manager with pedigree in Sam Allardyce, and he‘ll be expected to steer one of the division’s strongest squads to promotion
First match Reading (A), Saturday
Players in Jordan Stewart, Ryan Allsop, Therry Racon, Darius Henderson
Players out Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Marc Laird, Theo Robinson, Danny Schofield, John Sullivan, Ashley Grimes, Neil Harris, Andy Frampton, Steve Morison, Patrick O’Connor
Prospects Fans will be happy with a repeat of last year’s ninth place, but Kenny Jackett must manage without striker Steve Morison
First match Peterborough (A), Saturday
Players in Andrew Davies (loan), Ryan McGivern (loan), Jonathan Parr, Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Glenn Murray
Players out Adam Barrett, Kieran Djilali, Alassane N’Diaye (loan), Neil Danns, Claude Davis, Charlie Mann
Prospects Dougie Freedman enhanced his hero status by avoiding the drop and survival looks the most realistic goal again