2014-15 football season begins in England and Scotland

Football League
Wolves manager Kenny Jackett guided his team into the Championship in his first season in charge

The domestic football season begins in England and Scotland this weekend, with Blackburn and Cardiff kicking off the 2014-15 campaign with a 1-1 draw.

The match was the first of 1,671 to be played across the Football League's three 24-team divisions, culminating with the play-offs in May.

In total 15.7 million people attended Football League games last season.

The Scottish leagues start on Saturday but champions Celtic do not play until Wednesday, when they face St Johnstone.

Celtic celebrate winning the title last season
Reigning Scottish champions Celtic lost to Legia Warsaw in the Champions League on Wednesday

The Championship was the fourth-highest attended league in Europe during the 2013-14 campaign.

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League - Cardiff City, Fulham and Norwich - are among the favourites to be promoted from that division to the top flight.

Selected opening-weekend fixtures
Ipswich v FulhamChampionship
Wigan Athletic v ReadingChampionship
Sheffield United v Bristol CityLeague One
Yeovil Town v Doncaster RoversLeague One
Exeter City v PortsmouthLeague Two
Oxford United v Burton AlbionLeague Two

Blackpool, who had eight players and no goalkeeper as recently as July, take on Nottingham Forest in Reds boss Stuart Pearce's first match in charge, one of 10 games being played at 15:00 BST on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Dave Hockaday starts his reign as Leeds head coach with a trip to Millwall, while promoted Wolves face Norwich in Sunday's only Championship match.

In League One, last season's League Two champions Chesterfield travel to play-off finalists Leyton Orient on Saturday, and in League Two relegated Carlisle take on Conference Premier champions Luton.

The BBC Sport website will have live text commentaries covering all the action on Saturday and Sunday, while you can also follow the games across BBC local radio, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC television, with the Football League Show returning on Saturday.

Promotion candidates

In the Championship, Fulham were Europa League finalists as recently as 2010 and, along with fellow relegated sides Cardiff and Norwich, will be aiming to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Ross McCormack
Fulham's Ross McCormack has been Championship top scorer with both Cardiff and Leeds

Losing play-off finalists Derby are many bookmakers' favourites for the title, while Wolves will aim to recapture their League One title-winning form of last season.

In League One, last year's FA cup semi-finalists Sheffield United, under the leadership of Nigel Clough, are considered favourites and Steve Cotterill's Bristol City are expected to improve after finishing 12th last season.

The three losing play-off teams, Peterborough, Preston and Leyton Orient, are all likely to challenge again this time around.

In League Two, Portsmouth - who were playing Premier League football in 2010 - and Bury are expected to improve on last year's mid-table finishes.

Conference Premier champions Luton will be hoping to challenge for back-to-back promotions, while relegated Shrewsbury and play-off finalists Burton are also seen as contenders.

Managerial changes for the 2014-15 season

The 2014-15 season sees eight new managers take the helm in the Football League while, of the 72 in charge before the first game of the 2013-14 season, 42 remain for the start of this campaign.

New Football League managers for 2014-15
ClubDivisionManager inManager out
BlackpoolChampionshipJose RigaPaul Ince
Brighton & Hove AlbionChampionshipSami HyypiaOscar Garcia
Charlton AthleticChampionshipBob PeetersJose Riga
Leeds UnitedChampionshipDavid HockadayBrian McDermott
Nottingham ForestChampionshipStuart PearceBilly Davies
Oxford UnitedLeague TwoMichael AppletonGary Waddock
Shrewsbury TownLeague TwoMicky MellonMike Jackson
Tranmere RoversLeague TwoRob EdwardsRonnie Moore

The new men include former England Under-21 boss Pearce, who begins his reign at Nottingham Forest, where he spent 12 years as a player, after being appointed in April.

Hockaday was a surprise appointment as head coach of Leeds after previously being in charge of Conference side Forest Green Rovers.

And former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia is the new manager of Brighton after being sacked by Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in April.

Sami Hyypia
Sami Hyypia managed Bayer Leverkusen into the last 16 of the Champions League last season

Players to watch

The summer transfer window has been busy in the Football League, with millions spent on strengthening squads across the three divisions.

Notable Championship signings
Ross McCormack: Leeds United to Fulham for reported £11m fee
Matej Vydra: Udinese to Watford on a season-long loan
Michael Mancienne: Hamburg to Nottingham Forest for £1m
Lewis Grabban: Bournemouth to Norwich City for an undisclosed fee
Jordan Bowery: Aston Villa to Rotherham United for an undisclosed fee

Ross McCormack's switch from Leeds to Fulham for a reported £11m has been the most expensive Football League move of the summer so far, while Nottingham Forest this week broke their transfer record to sign Peterborough's Britt Assombalonga for £5.5m.

League One team Crawley Town have been the busiest club in the transfer market so far with 17 new signings, one more than League Two's Shrewsbury Town.

Players such as Ryan Lowe of Bury, Matej Vydra of Watford and Andy Drury of Luton have all returned for a second spell at their respective clubs having been successful first time around.

Matej Vydra
Matej Vydra was Championship player of the year in 2012-13 during his first spell with the Hornets

Top scorer contenders

The 2013-14 season saw Derby, Wolves and Chesterfield as the top-scoring teams in the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.

Championship top scorer contenders
PlayerClubLast season's record
Jordan RhodesBlackburn Rovers25 goals in the Championship
Lee GregoryMillwall30 goals in the Conference Premier
Britt AssombalongaNottingham Forest23 goals in League One
Ross McCormackFulham28 goals in the Championship
Chris MartinDerby County22 goals in the Championship

McCormack topped the Football League's goal charts last season with 28, and was one of 13 players - including Watford's Troy Deeney, with 24 Championship goals, and Kieran Agard, of Rotherham, who hit 21 in League One - to break the 20-goal mark across the three divisions.

The joint top scorers in last season's Conference - FC Halifax's Lee Gregory and Luton's Andre Gray - have been signed by Millwall and Brentford respectively.

League Two's 23-goal top scorer from last season, Scunthorpe's Sam Winnall, will be playing in League One this season with relegated Barnsley.

Compiled by BBC Kick-Off reporter Joshua Hall.

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