YORK City boss Steve Watson has insisted the pressure of being title favourites will not be greater than the expectations he is placing on his squad.

The Minstermen, who have finished the last two National League North campaigns in 11th and 12th, head BetVictor’s market to finish sixth-tier champions in 2019/20 at a price of 5-1.

Chester have the next shortest odds of 6-1 with the rest of the division 10-1 shots or greater, right down to 50-1 outsiders Farsley Celtic and Gloucester City.

Under Watson, City ended last term with a points ratio over the final 15 fixtures that, had it been repeated over the course of the campaign, would have been good enough to secure a top-three place.

The former Gateshead chief has made no secret of his ambitions to be challenging for promotion next season and, despite only adding Kieran Green to his squad so far, he remains on the hunt for further additions with rumours in the north-east currently linking City to the midfielder’s former Blyth Spartans team-mate and prolific marksman Dan Maguire.

While declaring he pays no heed to bookmakers’ opinions, therefore, Watson will still be setting his sights on fulfilling their forecast, reasoning: “When I was assistant-manager to John Askey at Macclesfield, we were tipped to be near the bottom of the National League and ended up winning the title by ten points, so I don’t pay much attention to the odds because they mean absolutely nothing, and I’m not allowed to have a bet on them anyway.

“But we had a very good finish to last season and our budget is the same for next season, so you would expect the club to be one of the favourites, as they would have been this time last summer. I’m certainly looking to do a hell of a lot better than then and the way I look at it the pressure of being favourites will not be greater than the pressure I will be putting on myself and the players to succeed by hitting the standards we need to meet.

“I fully expect us to be up there challenging, although I don’t expect it to be easy because no division is where only the champions go up automatically and I think that needs to be addressed. Anybody who watches games at this level on a regular basis will also know how competitive it is.”

With the betting field so open after the Minstermen and Chester, Watson believes there are a number of clubs who could indeed emerge as promotion contenders, adding: “Spennymoor will be strong as they have strengthened again and you’d expect the likes of Altrincham and Kidderminster to be challenging.

“Gateshead have also come down and not played at this level for a while, but how they do will depend on who they can hold on to and how they recruit if they turn themselves around financially.”

BetVictor’s National League North title odds: York City 5-1, Chester 6-1, Spennymoor 10-1, Altrincham 12-1, Brackley 12-1, Southport 14-1, Kidderminster 14-1, Bradford Park Avenue 16-1, Hereford 16-1, Darlington 16-1, Telford 20-1, Boston 20-1, Alfreton 20-1, Gateshead 20-1, Blyth 25-1, Kettering 25-1, Kings Lynn 25-1, Curzon Ashton 33-1, Guiseley 33-1, Leamington 33-1, Farsley Celtic 50-1, Gloucester City 50-1.