Three clubs lead the betting for the A-League title, while there is also interest in the race for the minor premiership and the finals - as well as avoiding the wooden spoon
|By PAUL GOUGH
They have already won six of the seven A-League titles between them and the bookies are yet again expecting one of the Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory or Sydney FC to be holding aloft the 2012-13 A-League trophy come next April.
The new season gets underway in just over a week, with the Brisbane Roar - having last season became the first club to win back-to-back A-League championships - the title favourites at Luxbet at $4.50.
Melbourne Victory, which finished a distant eighth last season but are tipped to be the big improvers this season after luring the Roar's dual premiership-winning coach Ange Postecoglou back to his home state, are the equal second favourites at with the Sky Blues, at $5.50.
Sydney FC, which also have a new manager in Englishman Ian Crook replacing 2009-10 title-winning manager Vitezslav Lavicka, have been the buzz team of the pre-season after signing high-profile Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero.
The big three also dominate the early betting to win the minor premiership at the end of the home-and-away season, with the Roar the $4.33 favourites at Luxbet ahead of the Victory at $5 and Sydney at $6.
|Western Sydney to finish last in the 2012-13 A-League season
||Central Coast Mariners to win the 2012-13 A-League minor premiership|
As for the remaining seven clubs, perennial contenders Central Coast and last year's runners-up Perth Glory are being tipped to be the other two clubs likely to make the top six, while the race for sixth spot is considered wide open.
Newcastle - having just signed former England international Emile Heskey ‑ are at $15, Melbourne Heart are at $17 and competition newcomers West Sydney are the rank outsiders at $26.
The Mariners, who did well to keep their highly-rated manager in former Socceroos boss Graham Arnold, are outstanding value at $8 to finish the season as minor premiers, considering they did so last season before bombing out in straight sets in the finals, while keeping last season's squad intact.
As for betting on which teams will finish in the top six and play in the finals, the Roar at $1.17, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at $1.28, Central Coast at $1.30 and Perth Glory at $1.45 at Luxbet are all considered likely finalists.
Adelaide and Wellington are then on the equal-sixth line of betting to finish in the top six at $1.53 with the Heart and Newcastle are both at $1.91 with Western Sydney at $2.90.
Meanwhile, the battle for the wooden spoon is a three-horse race, with Western Sydney the clear favourites at $1.90 in their debut season, followed by the Melbourne Heart at $4 with the Newcastle Jets the only other team under double-figure odds in wooden spoon betting at Luxbet at $6.50.
*Note prices subject to change