Queens Park Rangers beat Derby County 1-0 to make an immediate return to English soccer’s Premier League after demotion last year.
Bobby Zamora scored in the last minute of the match at Wembley Stadium in London to ensure QPR, managed by Harry Redknapp, won the Championship playoff final.
The winners managed the victory with their only shot on target and with 10-men after Gary O’Neil was sent off on 58 minutes for a late tackle on Derby’s Johnny Russell just outside the area.
“We were hanging on with 10 men and suddenly it took a fantastic finish,” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “We were looking to hanging in and maybe taking the game to penalties. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
West-London based QPR joins Leicester City and Burnley, which had already earned automatic promotion as the champion and runner-up in the Championship, in moving up to the Premier League. QPR, majority owned by AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes, had a two-year stint in the top division before last year’s relegation.
The playoff final offers the “biggest financial prize in world football,” according to accountant Deloitte LLP.
Deloitte this week estimated that the value of winning promotion would be at least 120 million pounds ($203 million) for Derby and 80 million pounds for QPR, mainly because of Premier League broadcasting income. The disparity between the teams arises from QPR still getting “parachute payments” linked to dropping out of the Premier League.
Derby, now managed by former England coach Steve McClaren, last played in England’s top league during the 2007-08 season when they were demoted with a record-low 11 points. McClaren had been an assistant to Redknapp at QPR earlier this campaign before switching to the English midlands side.
The top two teams in the Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League while the teams finishing third through sixth play off for one remaining place.
The Premier League, the world’s richest soccer league, is entering the second year of a 3 billion-pound TV contract.
“Based on existing distribution methods, even if a club is relegated after one season in the Premier League, it will be entitled to parachute payments over the following four seasons of at least 60 million pounds,” Adam Bull, senior consultant in the sports business group at Deloitte, said in a statement.
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