Balls and Odds Column by Fred Done, co-founder of Birchwood-based Betfred

WIGAN and Warrington are 3/1 joint second favourites with us behind holders Saints 5/2 to retain their title and be Betfred Super League Grand Final winners 2020.

Regarding the challenge from the other side of the Pennines we at Betfred can’t split Castleford and Leeds who are both priced at 8/1. The Black and Whites are 16/1 for the ultimate prize in the sport with their great city rivals HKR amongst the outsiders at 200/1.

New boys Toronto are 250/1 for Grand Final glory while Catalans are a solid enough bet at 16/1, Huddersfield at 25/1, Wakefield 100/1 – and my home town club Salford who did so well defying the odds to reach the final last year priced at tempting 150/1.

I’m chuffed to bits of course that the season will resume on August 2.

It has been a long four months after what was brewing up to be a fascinating season was suspended because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Great work has been going on behind the scenes to reach this point and I applaud all those responsible.

It is such a shame that the sport should suffer so much because physical contact is such a key element – and the enforced lockdown came as our sport looks to expand further on the international stage.

First up – behind closed turnstiles of course at a neutral venue – is Hull KR v Toronto Wolfpack, champions St Helens will face Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield will take on Leeds.

Then we’re right back into it with a full round of fixtures during the weekend of August 8-9.

I can only begin to imagine how tough it must have been to sort out the revised schedule of a further 15 rounds of fixture not to mention the four-team play-offs and the Betfred Super League Grand Final to follow – probably in late November.

Remaining games will be played at ‘a small number of neutral venues’ which are likely to be the bigger stadiums until of course government directives, particularly over social distancing, change.

Betfred Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone is just one of the sport’s top administrators who has been working round the clock to get us back in business.

Robert has had his work cut out closely monitoring government directives in both France and Canada now we have overseas clubs Catalans and Toronto among the 12 Betfred Super League teams.

The executive chairman said: “We will continue to follow government advice and work alongside the Rugby Football League, clinical advisors and ground safety personnel to ensure that when that time comes, Super League is ready to welcome back its fans at the first opportunity. Whilst the recent government announcements underline increasing optimism, the pandemic remains unpredictable. Our final fixture schedule needs to respond to opportunities that will unfold over the coming weeks and accordingly, full details of fixtures, venues and season structure will be confirmed as they become known.”

He’s spot on and I couldn’t put it better. The priority must remain the safety of the players and fans as we battle together to beat the virus.

If the Premier League is anything to go by the bigger, more successful teams such as the Wire will come back stronger as they will have had the chance to get their more influential star players fit during the lockdown.

Surprise results have been few and far between – and being at home not much of an advantage at all with there being no crowd to lift their favourites.

That has led to the more technical teams such as Manchester City doing so well in the majority of their games since the restart. Also players, who are self starters and don’t necessarily need a lift from the fans, are shining brightest.

I reckon that will be the case in Betfred Super League too, but at the end of the day I’m just absolutely delighted we’re back in business.