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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
The Championship form guide
BRIGHTON

Nickname: The Seagulls
Ground: Withdean Stadium
Capacity: 6,960
Position last season: 20th
Manager: Mark McGhee (October 2003)

In: Jason Dodd (Southampton), Colin Kazim-Richards (Bury, undisclosed), Paul McShane (Manchester United, loan)

Out: Dan Harding (Leeds, 850,000), Nathan Jones (Yeovil), Paul Watson, Adam Virgo (Celtic, 1.5m), Maheta Molango (Lincoln, season-long loan)

BBC Sport verdict: A young Seagulls squad face another long, hard season having waited until the final day of the last campaign to secure their continuing Championship presence.

Their greatest victory could come off the pitch with a decision on a new stadium due in October, although if relegation follows it will have a hollow ring. They need Leon Knight to belatedly find his feet in the division.

Key man: Leon Knight


BURNLEY

Nickname: The Clarets
Ground: Turf Moor
Capacity: 22,546
Last season: 13th
Manager: Steve Cotterill (June 2004)

In: Wade Elliott (Bournemouth), Garreth O'Connor (Bournemouth), Wayne Thomas (Stoke), Gifton Noel-Williams (Stoke), Danny Karbassiyoon (Arsenal)

Out: Mo Camara (Celtic), Lee Roche (Wrexham), John Oster (Reading)
Tony Grant, Jean-Louis Valois, Paul Scott, Matt O'Neill, Joel Pilkington

BBC Sport verdict: Steve Cotterill tightened the ship at the back in his first season but will now want to focus on the attack if Burnley are going to make the jump from mid-table to play-off contenders.

The manager has turned to his old club Stoke and drafted in striker Gifton Noel-Williams to play alongside Ade Akinbiyi and resurrect a partnership that showed promise at the Potters.

Key man: Ade Akinbiyi


CARDIFF CITY

Nickname: The Bluebirds
Ground: Ninian Park
Capacity: 19,000
Last season: 16th
Manager: Dave Jones (May 2005)

In: Jeff Whitley (Sunderland), Neil Cox (Watford), Glenn Loovens (Feyenoord, loan), Jason Koumas (West Brom, loan), Darren Purse (West Brom, 750,000), Kevin Cooper (Wolves), Phil Mulryne (Norwich)
Andreas Ferrett, Jermaine Darlington

Out: Arran Lee-Barrett (Weymouth), Lee Bullock (Hartlepool), Peter Thorne (Norwich), Danny Gabbidon and James Collins (both West Ham, 3.2m), Jobi McAnuff (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Darren Williams (Hartlepool)
Tony Vidmar, Gary Croft, Kirk Huggins, Michael Parkins, Danny Thomas

BBC Sport verdict: Bluebirds boss Dave Jones is juggling with debts in the Welsh capital that have partly been met by a host of defensive departures over the summer that helped cut the wage bill.

Danny Gabbidon and James Collins have followed Graham Kavanagh and Rob Earnshaw out of the door but Jones has worked well recruiting replacements who should have enough to ensure a solid, if unspectacular, season.

Key man: Jason Koumas


COVENTRY CITY

Nickname: The Sky Blues
Ground: Ricoh Arena
Capacity: 32,500
Last season: 19th
Manager: Micky Adams (January 2005)

In: Richard Duffy (Portsmouth, loan), Clayton Ince (Crewe), Matt Heath (Leicester, undisclosed), Stephen Bywater (West Ham, loan)

Out: Craig Pead (Walsall), Trevor Benjamin (Peterborough), Scott Shearer (Bristol Rovers), Steve Staunton (Walsall)
Sean Cooney, Kevin Pressman

BBC Sport verdict: Coventry will be looking to make a fresh start at their new stadium after their move from Highfield Road.

Boss Micky Adams oversaw an upturn in fortunes and won the Manager of the Month award for April to ensure they step into their new stadium in the second tier with renewed confidence.

Key man: Gary McSheffrey


CREWE ALEXANDRA

Nickname: The Railwaymen/Alex
Ground: Gresty Road
Capacity: 10,046
Last season: 21st
Manager: Dario Gradi (June 1983)

In: Mat Bailey (Stockport), Juan Ugarte (Wrexham), Eddie Johnson (Manchester United, loan), Luke Rodgers (Shrewsbury), Ross Turnbull (Middlesbrough, loan)

Out: Andy White (Notts County), Clayton Ince (Coventry)

BBC Sport verdict: Following Dean Ashton's January departure Crewe failed to win for 19 matches, but when victory finally did come on the last day of the season it was enough to see them stay up.

Dario Gradi's men avoided relegation by two goals and it may be another fraught season at one of the division's least glamourous clubs where Juan Ugarte will take on Ashton's mantle as team goal-getter.

Key man: Juan Ugarte


CRYSTAL PALACE

Nickname: The Eagles
Ground: Selhurst Park
Capacity: 26,500
Last season: 18th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Iain Dowie (December 2003)

In: Darren Ward (Millwall, 1.1m), Jon Macken (Man City, undisclosed)

Out: Wayne Routledge (Tottenham, undisclosed), Darren Powell (Southampton), Neil Shipperley (Sheffield United), Karim El-Salahi (Woking)

BBC Sport verdict: Priority number one following relegation was to keep hold of key players, and while there was disappointment at Wayne Routledge's departure, Iain Dowie has so far persuaded Andy Johnson to stay.

The England striker scored 21 goals in the Premiership and Dowie will be keen to reach the end of the transfer window with him still in the squad to spearhead a return to the top flight.

Key man: Andy Johnson


DERBY COUNTY

Nickname: The Rams
Ground: Pride Park
Capacity: 33,597
Last season: 4th
Manager: Phil Brown (June 2005)

In: Andrew Davies (Middlesbrough, loan), Marc Edworthy (Norwich), Paul Thirlwell (Sheffield United, undisclosed)

Out: Ian Taylor (Northampton), Dan Martin (Notts County), Gary Twigg (Airdrie), Jamie Vincent (Millwall, loan)
Junior, Marco Reich

BBC Sport verdict: After avoiding relegation the previous season, George Burley turned Derby into promotion contenders with astute purchases before leaving in the summer.

Phil Brown takes up the reins and much will depend on how he adapts to management and whether he can bring the best out of Grzegorz Rasiak and Inigo Idiakez after persuading them to stay over the summer.

Key man: Grzegorz Rasiak


HULL CITY

Nickname: The Tigers
Ground: KC Stadium
Capacity: 25,000
Last season: 2nd League One (Promoted)
Manager: Peter Taylor (October 2002)

In: Keith Andrews (Wolves), Curtis Woodhouse (Peterborough, 25,000), Steve McPhee (Beira Mar, 220,000), Mark Lynch (Sunderland), Danny Coles (Bristol City, 200,000)
Sergio Leite

Out: Richard Hinds (Scunthorpe, undisclosed), Clayton Donaldson (York), Jon Walters (Wrexham), Aaron Wilbraham (MK Dons)

BBC Sport verdict: Logic dictates that Hull cannot make it three promotions in three seasons, but to counter that argument they have the financial resources, a wonderful stadium and support that could see them push on.

Stuart Elliott starred in League One with 30 goals from the wing, and if he can go close to that again anything will be possible at the KC Stadium.

Key man: Stuart Elliott


IPSWICH TOWN

Nickname: The Blues/Tractor Boys
Ground: Portman Road
Capacity: 30,300
Last season: 3rd
Manager: Joe Royle (October 2002)

In: Nicky Forster (Reading), Sam Parkin (Swindon, 450,000)

Out: Darren Bent (Charlton, 3m), Kelvin Davis (Sunderland, 1.25m), Tommy Miller (Sunderland), Drissa Diallo (Sheffield Wednesday), Shefki Kuqi (Blackburn), Pablo Counago (Malaga)

BBC Sport verdict: After reaching the play-offs for a second successive season but failing to gain promotion, history suggests Ipswich could go close again.

But last season's disappointment was compounded by the subsequent departure of a number of players and the new faces, particularly in attack, will have to fit in seamlessly if momentum is to be maintained.

Key man: Sam Parkin


LEEDS

Nickname: The Whites
Ground: Elland Road
Capacity: 40,204
Last season: 14th
Manager: Kevin Blackwell (May 2004)

In: Rob Hulse (West Brom, undisclosed), Ian Bennett (Birmingham), Dan Harding (Brighton, 850,000), Eddie Lewis (Preston), Robbie Blake (Birmingham, undisclosed)

Out: Aaron Lennon (Tottenham, undisclosed), Julian Joachim (Boston)

BBC Sport verdict: After the well-publicised trauma of relegation, Leeds consolidated with a host of new faces in Kevin Blackwell's re-modelled squad and finished the campaign in mid-table respectability.

But chairman Ken Bates will want to see a greater return on his investment last January having helped create stability and attract players in the summer capable of leading a promotion push back to the promised land.

Key man: David Healy


LEICESTER

Nickname: The Foxes
Ground: The Walkers Stadium
Capacity: 32,500
Last season: 15th
Manager: Craig Levein (November 2004)

In: Rab Douglas (Celtic), Momo Sylla (Celtic), Paul Henderson (Bradford), Nils-Eric Johansson (Blackburn), Patrick Gerrbrand (Hammarby, undisclosed), Peter Gilbert (Plymouth, 200,000)

Out: Lilian Nalis (Sheffield United), Ian Walker (Bolton), Jordan Stewart (Watford, 125,000), Matt Heath (Coventry, undisclosed), Chris Makin (Reading), Keith Gillespie (Sheffield United)
Jamie Scowcroft, Scot Gemmill, Nikos Dabizas, Nathan Blake, Lars Hirschfeld, Stephen Dawson

BBC Sport verdict: After bedding in at the Walkers Stadium last season, manager Craig Levein has been busy moulding his own team over the summer and released a number of players who came in under past regimes.

One to survive the cull is David Connolly and much will depend on his partnership with Mark de Vries in attack if Leicester are to improve on last season's poor performance and push themselves into the play-off picture.

Key man: David Connolly


LUTON TOWN

Nickname: The Hatters
Ground: Kenilworth Road
Capacity: 9,975
Last season: 1st League One (Promoted)
Manager: Mike Newell (June 2003)

In: Carlos Edwards (Wrexham), Rowan Vine (Portsmouth, undisclosed)

Out: Lee Mansell (Oxford, undisclosed)
Ian Hillier, Alan Neilson, Dave Bayliss

BBC Sport verdict: The Hatters were comfortably promoted as League One champions but the Championship promises to be an altogether tougher proposition.

Manager Mike Newell will be looking to pick up points with much the same squad and only time will tell how many are up to the jump in class, although midfielder Ahmet Brkovic and striker Steve Howard should still shine.

Key man: Ahmet Brkovic


MILLWALL

Nickname: The Lions
Ground: The New Den
Capacity: 20,146
Last season: 10th
Manager: Colin Lee (July 2005)

In: Sammy Igoe (Swindon, undisclosed), Don Hutchison (Millwall), Jamie Vincent (Derby, loan)

Out: Paul Ifill (Sheff Utd, 800,000), Darren Ward (Crystal Palace, 1.1m), Dennis Wise (Southampton), Daniel Dichio (Preston, 160,000), Joe Dolan (Leyton Orient), Peter Sweeney (Stoke)

BBC Sport verdict: There have been more goings than comings at the New Den over the summer, including manager Dennis Wise, chairman Jeff Burnige and a number of key players.

And just when they looked to be getting a bit of stability, new boss Steve Claridge was sacked only 36 days after taking over.

Current incumbent Colin Lee will need a fast start to avoid being dragged into difficulty at the wrong end of the table.

Key man: Barry Hayles


NORWICH

Nickname: The Canaries
Ground: Carrow Road
Capacity: 26,034
Last season: 19th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Nigel Worthington (December 2000)

In: Jason Jarrett (Wigan), Matthieu Louis-Jean (Nott'm Forest, swap), Peter Thorne (Cardiff), Andy Hughes (Reading, undisclosed), Jurgen Colin (PSV Eindhoven, 263,000), Phil Mulryne (Cardiff)
Graham Stuart

Out: Mathias Svensson (Elfsborg, 100,000), Marc Edworthy (Derby), Danny Crow (Peterborough), Thomas Helveg (Borussia Monchengladbach, 135,000), Gary Holt (Nott'm Forest, swap)

BBC Sport verdict: The Canaries may not have spent big to help prolong their stay in the Premiership, but the flip side is that on coming down they do not have to sell off a host of players.

Nigel Worthington's squad, which has some good new additions, should prove too good for the majority of their Championship opponents and in Dean Ashton and Darren Huckerby he has two proven match-winners at this level.

Key man: Dean Ashton


PLYMOUTH

Nickname: The Pilgrims
Ground: Home Park
Capacity: 20,134
Last season: 17th
Manager: Bobby Williamson (April 2004)

In: Akos Buzsaky (Porto), Bojan Djordjic (Rangers), Anthony Barness (Bolton), Rufus Brevett (West Ham), Taribo West (Al-Arabi), Nuno Mendes (Santa Clara, undisclosed)

Out: Steven Milne (St Johnstone), Matt Villis (Torquay), Peter Gilbert (Leicester, 200,000)
David Worrell

BBC Sport verdict: Argyle lost more games away from home than any other team in the Championship last season and in an effort to rectify that problem boss Bobby Williamson has recruited for the rearguard.

He has put in place a defence packed with experience in the guise of Anthony Barness, Rufus Brevett and former Nigerian international Taribo West that he hopes will provide the platform for his attack to prosper.

Key man: Bojan Djordjic


PRESTON NORTH END

Nickname: The Lilywhites
Ground: Deepdale
Capacity: 21,412
Last season: 5th
Manager: Billy Davies (August 2004)

In: Dave Hibbert (Port Vale, tribunal), Daniel Dichio (Millwall 160,000), David Jones (Man Utd, season-long loan), Lewis Neal (Stoke, swap deal)

Out: Eddie Lewis (Leeds), Alan McCormack (Motherwell, loan), David Elebert (Scarborough, loan), Marlon Broomes (Stoke, swap deal)

BBC Sport verdict: Boss Billy Davies transformed Preston last season, taking them from 20th in August to fifth in May and a place in the play-off final after a run of results that included only one home loss in the league.

Having held on to Davies despite interest from other clubs, the Deepdale faithful will be hoping neither he nor star striker David Nugent suffer from second-season syndrome.

Key man: David Nugent


QPR

Nickname: Rangers/R's/Hoops
Ground: Loftus Road
Capacity: 19,148
Last season: 11th
Manager: Ian Holloway (February 2001)

In: Stefan Moore (Aston Villa), Ian Evatt (Chesterfield, undisclosed), Tommy Doherty (Bristol City), Simon Royce (Charlton), Marc Nygaard (Brescia, undisclosed)
Ugo Ukah

Out: Tony Thorpe (Swindon), Jamie Cureton (Swindon), Gino Padula (Nott'm Forest), Chris Day (Oldham)
Generoso Rossi, Richard Edghill

BBC Sport verdict: When Rangers strung together the results they challenged up at the top of the table, but consistency was a problem and before long they were mired in mid-table mediocrity.

On paper Ian Holloway has worked well in the transfer market to bring in a good blend of players at minimal cost, but only time will tell if they work on the pitch - as the boss will no doubt let us know in his own inimitable style.

Key man: Martin Rowlands


READING

Nickname: The Royals
Ground: Madejski Stadium
Capacity: 24,200
Last season: 7th
Manager: Steve Coppell (October 2003)

In: Kevin Doyle (Cork City, undisclosed), Shane Long (Cork City, undisclosed), Leroy Lita (Bristol City, 1m), Stephen Hunt (Brentford), Graham Stack (Arsenal, loan), Brynjar Gunnarsson (Watford, undisclosed), Chris Makin (Leicester), John Oster (Burnley)

Out: Jamie Young (Rushden, loan), Louie Soares (Bristol Rovers), Ricky Newman (Brentford), Paul Brooker (Brentford), Lloyd Owusu (Brentford), Andy Hughes (Norwich, undisclosed), Shaun Goater (Southend), Simieon Howell (Forest Green, season-long loan)
Adam Federici, Les Ferdinand, Martin Keown, Bas Savage

BBC Sport verdict: Missed out on the top six and a play-off place on the last day of the league campaign but have spent in an effort to ensure such disappointment is not repeated.

England under-21 striker Leroy Lita has been added to the squad and he will be the third prong in an attacking trio comprising Dave Kitson in attack with Steve Sidwell prompting and probing behind in midfield.

Key man: Steve Sidwell


SHEFFIELD UNITED

Nickname: The Blades
Ground: Bramall Lane
Capacity: 30,936
Last season: 8th
Manager: Neil Warnock (December 1999)

In: Lilian Nalis (Leicester), Paul Ifill (Millwall, 800,000), Danny Webber (Watford, 500,000), Craig Short (Blackburn), Kyle Nix (Aston Villa), Gary Mulligan (Wolves), Neil Shipperley (Crystal Palace), Keith Gillespie (Leicester)

Out: Danny Cadamarteri (Bradford), Tommy Johnson (Scunthorpe), Andy Liddell (Oldham), Danny Cullip (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Paul Thirlwell (Derby, undisclosed)
Ashley Ward, Danny Haystead

BBC Sport verdict: After two successive eighth-place finishes, manager Neil Warnock has been busy in the transfer market readying the Blades for a push into the top six.

The signs look promising and after struggling for goals much will be expected of striker Danny Webber who scored three times in six outings on loan last season, with Phil Jagielka running the show in midfield.

Key man: Phil Jagielka


SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Nickname: The Owls
Ground: Hillsborough
Capacity: 39,800
Last season: 5th League One (Promoted as play-off champions)
Manager: Paul Sturrock (September 2004)

In: John Hills (Gillingham, free), Drissa Diallo (Ipswich, free), Chris Eagles (Manchester United, loan), Burton O'Brien (Livingston), Frankie Simek (Arsenal), Richie Partridge (Liverpool)

Out: Lewis McMahon (Stockport, free), Ross Greenwood (Stockport), Chris Adamson, Rory McArdle (Rochdale, loan), James Quinn (Peterborough)
Zigor Aranalde, Paul Smith, Matthew Hamshaw, Liam Needham

BBC Sport verdict: The key difference between divisions is the end product and in Steve MacLean and Lee Peacock Wednesday have a combination who have the potential to trouble the Championship's best.

But Paul Sturrock, one of three managers who will make a return to Southampton in the Championship this term, will want to add depth to his squad after injuries nearly derailed their promotion push last term.

Key man: Steve MacLean


SOUTHAMPTON

Nickname: Saints
Ground: St Mary's Stadium
Capacity: 32,000
Last season: 20th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Harry Redknapp

In: Dennis Wise (Millwall), Darren Powell (Crystal Palace), Ricardo Fuller (Portsmouth, 90,000), Tomasz Hajto (Nurnberg)

Out: Anders Svensson (Elfsborg, undisclosed), Graeme Le Saux (retired), Jamie Redknapp (retired), Jason Dodd (Brighton), Kevin Phillips (Aston Villa, 1m), Jelle van Damme (Werder Bremen), Peter Crouch (Liverpool, 7m), Paul Telfer (Celtic, undisclosed)

BBC Sport verdict: After 27 years in the top flight, Saints will have to adjust quickly to life in the league below otherwise it could prove a long, hard campaign.

Following the departure of his star strikers manager Harry Redknapp will have to develop a more workmanlike model with the added pressure of Sir Clive Woodward being in the background.

Key man: Nigel Quashie


STOKE CITY

Nickname: The Potters
Ground: Britannia Stadium
Capacity: 28,384
Last season: 12th
Manager: Johan Boskamp (June 2005)

In: Mamady Sidibe (Gillingham, free), Carl Hoefkens (Germinal Beerschot, undisclosed), Martin Kolar (Anderlecht, season-long loan), Ngalula Mbuyi Gabriel (Anderlecht, season-long loan), Marlon Broomes (Preston, swap deal), Peter Sweeney (Millwall), Luke Chadwick (West Ham, loan)

Out: Gifton Noel-Williams (Burnley), Wayne Thomas (Burnley), Gareth Owen (Oldham, 50,000), Jermaine Palmer (Grimsby), Jay Denny (Shrewsbury), Richard Keogh (Bristol City), Ben Foster (Manchester United, 1m), Clive Clarke (West Ham, 275,000), Lewis Neal (Preston, swap deal)

BBC Sport verdict: Goals are priority number one for a club that scored just 36 times last term. Only relegated Rotherham had a worse record in the penalty box.

Old manager Tony Pulis signed striker Mamady Sidibe days before being sacked for failing to exploit the foreign transfer market, an area new boss Johan Boskamp. former Anderlecth, has already begun to explore.

Key man: John Halls


WATFORD

Nickname: The Hornets
Ground: Vicarage Road
Capacity: 22,000
Last season: 18th
Manager: Adrian Boothroyd (March 2005)

In: Jordan Stewart (Leicester, 125,000), Martin Devaney (Cheltenham), Adam Griffiths (KV Oostende, free), Junior (Derby), Marlon King (Nottm Forest, loan), Darius Henderson (Gillingham, 450,000)

Out: Danny Webber (Sheff Utd, 500,000), Ben Herd (Shrewsbury), Heidar Helguson (Fulham, 1.3m), Paul Mayo (Lincoln), Omari Coleman (Lincoln), Neil Cox (Cardiff), Brynjar Gunnarsson (Reading, undisclosed), Sean Dyche (Northampton)

BBC Sport verdict: Young boss Adrian Boothroyd goes into his first full season with one of the harder tasks in the Championship - keeping Watford clear from relegation.

The Hornets struggled last term despite a glut of goals from Heidar Helguson and Danny Webber and following their summer departures someone will have to step up to the challenge of hitting the net.

Key man: Junior


WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

Nickname: Wolves
Ground: Molineux
Capacity: 28,525
Last season: 9th
Manager: Glenn Hoddle (December 2004)

In: Rohan Ricketts (Tottenham), Jackie McNamara (Celtic), Gabor Gyepes (Ferencvaros, loan)

Out: Keith Andrews (Hull), Kevin Cooper (Wolves), Gary Mulligan (Sheff Utd)

BBC Sport verdict: Following Glenn Hoddle's arrival at the helm Wolves steadily climbed the division from 17th, losing just one league outing in 24 games and winning eight times.

Hoddle will want to maintain that momentum and turn some of those draws into wins, but most significantly he has the players to do it with a mix of youth and experience that has been boosted by Jackie McNamara's arrival from Celtic.

Key man: Seol Ki-Hyeon





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