EFL predictions 2023/24: who is getting promoted and relegated from Championship, League 1 and League 2
Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton will kick off the new Football League season
The 2023/24 Football League season is just around the corner, bringing with it a fresh sense of optimism, anticipation and excitement.
Nobody knows quite what to expect at the start of the new season and all 72 EFL clubs are starting the campaign with a host of new signings and in some cases even a new manager in the dugout.
The Football League is notoriously difficult to predict and last season the likes of Luton Town, Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage all defied the bookmakers to win promotion.
But who are we predicting to push for promotion this term in the Championship, League 1 and League 2 and who do we expect to struggle at the bottom of the league.
Here are our predictions for promotion and relegation in this year’s English Football League.
Who will win automatic promotion?
1st - Leicester City
Leicester City are adapting to life back in the Championship after a whirlwind nine years which have seen them lift the Premier League title and the FA Cup.
The Foxes have lost a number of high-profile players as a result of their relegation with Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans all leaving.
But they have successfully recouped a significant amount of money to reinvest in the team and new arrivals Conor Coady and Harry Winks offer a wealth of experience to the promotion challenge.
Leicester have the strongest team on paper and they will be hoping that Jamie Vardy can rediscover his goal scoring touch this year.
2nd - Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough were one of the Championship’s most in-form teams at the end of last season and only Burnley and Sheffield United picked up a higher points total than Boro after Michael Carrick’s first game on 29 October 2022.
The North Yorkshire side missed out on promotion through the play-offs last year but they have shown huge signs of improvement under the guidance of Carrick and they are capable of going one better this time around.
Top scorer Chuba Akpom will once again be an asset for Boro after his 28 goal season last term, while Carrick will be tasked with finding a replacement for Cameron Archer who looks likely to stay at Aston Villa after his successful loan spell last season.
Who will make the play-offs in the Championship
To make the play-offs - Southampton, Leeds United, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion
Southampton and Leeds United are both viable contenders to bounce back to the Premier League after their relegation last season and both should finish in the top six.
The Saints are led into the new season by former Swansea manager Russell Martin who is an experienced name at this level and he has two proven goalscorers in the second-tier in the form of Adam Armstrong and Che Adams.
Leeds also begin the new season under new stewardship and two-time promotion winner, Daniel Farke will be in the dugout next season.
Norwich have traditionally done well at Championship level and they will be expecting improvements in David Wagner’s first full season.The Canaries have added good experience in the form of Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy who have both previously tasted promotion.
Carlos Corberan helped West Brom climb from second-bottom to ninth after his arrival in October last year and his side are capable of carrying that momentum into the new season.
Predicted play-off winners - Leeds United
Championship relegation predictions
22nd - Sheffield Wednesday
It has been a turbulent summer behind the scenes at Sheffield Wednesday, who announced the departure of manager Darren Moore shortly after their play-off triumph.
The Owls instability off the pitch and their lack of activity in the transfer window could prove problematic this season.
23rd - Birmingham City
Birmingham City have been involved in a number of relegation battles in the last decade and this could be the year that they drop down to the third tier of English football.
The Blues were amongst the lowest scorers in the division last year and they will be heavily reliant on Scott Hogan if they are to once again beat the drop.
24th - Rotherham
Rotherham survived the drop last season after the departure of former manager Paul Warne but they could struggle this season.
The South Yorkshire side struggled to score goals last term and they begin the new campaign without top scorer Chiedozie Ogbene who begins next season at Luton Town.
Who will win automatic promotion?
1st - Derby County
Derby County enter this season as the bookmakers’ favourites for promotion in Paul Warne’s first full campaign in the dugout.
Warne is a promotion specialist from this division who has achieved the feat twice with Rotherham United and The Rams have a team that is ready to make the jump back to the second-tier.
2nd - Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers missed out on promotion through the play-offs last season, but they now have the ability to go one better and win automatic promotion.
The Trotters are a club on the rise under the management of Ian Evatt and they have enjoyed steady improvements in both of their last two seasons since winning promotion from League 2 in 2021.
Who will make the play-offs in League 1?
To make the play-offs: Blackpool, Portsmouth, Charlton and Barnsley
Reading and Wigan were both relegated from the Championship last season but their current financial difficulties will likely act as a barrier for any promotion bid this term.
Blackpool are much more likely to stage a promotion bid this season and they welcome back manager Neil Critchley who previously won promotion via the play-offs in 2021.
Portsmouth have freshened up their team with a number of signings and Charlton should once again be competitive at the top of League 1 after their takeover and Alfie May and Harry Itsted could both be shrewd acquisitions.
Barnsley will also expect to be in the race for promotion next year after their heartbreaking defeat in last year’s play-off final.
Predicted play-off winners: Charlton Athletic
League 1 relegation predictions
21st - Port Vale
Port Vale experienced a dip in form towards the back end of last season which resulted in the departure of promotion-winning head coach Darrell Clarke.
Internal replacement Andy Crosby is the new man in the dugout and he has limited experience in first team management. He will also have to cope without key men David Worrall and Tom Pett who both left this summer.
22nd - Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham will adjust to life without their talisman Alfie May who has moved on to pastures new with Charlton Athletic.
May has been a hugely impactful player in recent years and they may struggle to score enough goals to survive as a result of his departure.
23rd - Carlisle United
Carlisle United staged an unlikely promotion through the play-off last season but they may struggle to make the jump up to the third-tier this term.
Carlisle won just two of their final 11 games in League 2 and they will need to invest further in the transfer market if they are to survive.
24th - Cambridge
Cambridge United narrowly avoided the drop last season with an upturn in form in the final few games.
However, they could struggle this season without several of their key players from that great escape including Harvey Knibbs, Sam Smith and Joe Ironside.
Who will win automatic promotion?
1st - Wrexham
Wrexham were the outstanding team in the National League last season and they have a team which is capable of winning back-to-back promotions under manager Phil Parkinson.
The Welsh side are yet to make many changes from the team that lifted the title last season but they have an experienced group featuring talisman Paul Mullin and former England goalkeeper Ben Foster.
2nd - Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster Rovers have endured a fall from grace in recent seasons and they were rooted to the bottom half of the table for most of last season.
However, they start this campaign with a familiar face in Grant McCann who has made a number of major changes to the first team with the likes of Joe Ironside, Jamie Sterry and Richard Wood all arriving.
3rd - Stockport County
Stockport County were the best team outside the automatic promotion places last year and only narrowly missed on third spot to Northampton Town.
Dave Challinor’s side should come back even stronger next year to clinch the automatic promotion spot and Paddy Madden is once again likely to play a key role as his side's leading striker.
Who will make the play-off in League Two?
To make the play-offs: Notts County, Mansfield, MK Dons, Bradford
Notts County narrowly missed out on the National League title last season and were ultimately forced to win promotion through the play-offs.
The Magpies have added further firepower to the team with the signing of David McGoldrick and the prospect of a partnership between him and Macaulay Langstaff is one which will give many League 2 defenders sleepless nights.
Mansfield missed out on the play-offs last term but they are a team which has been knocking on the door for promotion for several years. They are likely to improve under the guidance of Nigel Clough.
MK Dons suffered relegation last season but they have a team which is equipped to contend for promotion back into the third-tier.
Bradford should also be competitive next season as Mark Hughes takes charge for a second season.
Predicted play-off winners: Notts County
League 2 relegation predictions
23rd - Sutton United
Sutton United comfortably avoided relegation last season under the guidance of Matt Gray but it could be a much more difficult season this term.
The south London club have lost their two top scorers in the form of Omar Bugiel and Will Randall and they could struggle in attack.
24th - Crawley
Crawley’s pre-season preparations have been dominated by off the pitch problems and they enter this season as the bookmakers favourites for the drop.
Crawley finished last season just three points ahead of relegation and it is likely to once again be a difficult campaign.