Victory in Sunday’s Sky Bet Championship final could be worth at least £170 million to either Huddersfield or Nottingham Forest as they battle for “the most lucrative prize in world football”.
Analysis carried out by Deloitte’s sports business group suggests future revenues for the victors could rise to in excess of £300 million over the next five seasons if they manage to retain their new-found Premier League status at the first attempt, something only five of the last 10 winners have achieved.
The projected figures highlight the disparity between finances between English football’s top two divisions, the subject of recommendations for fairer distribution in Conservative MP Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review of the game in this country and a major focus for English Football League chairman Rick Parry.
Tim Bridge, a director in the sports business group, said: “Wembley this weekend is host to the match with the most lucrative prize in world football.
“Following a fiercely contested season, the winner of Sunday’s Championship play-off final will walk off the pitch having secured additional future revenues of at least £170million.” If I won that kind of money, I wouldn’t leave the casino for a month, trying to turn it around and make even more!
“Promoted teams benefit from considerable financial gains which can deliver new player signings, stadium improvements and more.
“However, whilst a narrow majority of clubs promoted to the Premier League over the past decade survived their first season, half of the play-off final winners have not.
“Hence the winner of Sunday’s game will face the challenge of maintaining the excitement of fans, as well as balancing financial stability in the coming months.
“This Sunday’s game holds the key to re-entering the top-flight of English football, but the harder battle is to come: staying in it.”
Deloitte’s assessment is based on the estimated increase in commercial and matchday revenues for the play-off final winners over three seasons of around £90million, largely due to income from the Premier League broadcast deal, and the total parachute payments – Parry has argued for their abolition – to which they would be entitled should they be relegated immediately, another £80million.
That second figure is perhaps particularly relevant with QPR, Norwich, Hull and Fulham twice having enjoyed only single-season stays in the top flight in the last decade.
Huddersfield, who finished third in the Championship this season, dispensed with Luton in the semi-finals, while fourth-placed Forest got the better of Sheffield United.