It was always going to be a two-horse race between Lincoln City and Tranmere Rovers in the battle for the 2016/17 National League title. In the end it was the Imps who finished top of the table and runners-up Tranmere had to content themselves with a place in the play-offs. They reached the finals thanks to a 5-2 aggregate win over Aldershot but came unstuck against Forest Green Rovers at Wembley and must now wait a little longer for a return back into the Football League.
Can they manage it at the third attempt? Manager Micky Mellon certainly has impressive credentials, the former Tranmere midfielder enjoying success whilst in the hot-seat at Fleetwood Town, Barnsley and Shrewsbury Town before joining Tranmere as manager in October 2016. He guided Rovers to the top of the National League table before they slipped from pole position towards the close of the campaign and he will be confident of steering them back to the bright lights of the Football League at the end of 2017/18.
Nevertheless his side will face stiff competition from a handful of ex-Football League clubs such as newly-relegated Hartlepool, Leyton Orient, Wrexham and Dagenham & Redbridge. The Daggers have been splashing the cash during the summer with a host of new players arriving at the East London club including former Birmingham City midfielder Charlee Adams and they sit second behind Tranmere in the Promotion Betting market at 11/2.
Eastleigh are another ambitious non-league outfit which impressed last season and they too have been splashing the cash on new summer signings. They finished 15th at the end of 2016/17 and the bookies feel that they can improve on this showing next season with many firms going 6/1 that they win promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history.
Vanamara National League Promotion - Best Odds
6/4 - Tranmere Rovers
11/2 - Dagenham & Redbridge
6/1 - Eastleigh
13/2 - Hartlepool
15/2 - Wrexham
8/1 - AFC Fylde
Vanamara National League Winner - Best Odds
7/2 - Tranmere Rovers
10/1 - Dagenham & Redbridge
12/1 - Eastleigh
14/1 - Hartlepool
14/1 - Wrexham
16/1 - Aldershot