May 8 (Bloomberg) -- West Ham United defeated Cardiff City to reach the Championship playoff final, where it will seek an immediate return to English soccer’s Premier League.
West Ham won 3-0 yesterday after securing a 2-0 victory at Cardiff in the opening game of the two-match semifinal. The Hammers will play Birmingham or Blackpool at Wembley on May 19 for a spot in the top flight. It will be West Ham’s first visit to the national stadium since the 1981 League Cup final.
The playoff final is the richest soccer match in the world. Winning it is worth at least 90 million pounds ($143 million), accountant Deloitte LLP estimates. Promoted teams benefit from at least 40 million pounds in additional revenue and minimum guaranteed payments of 48 million pounds in the following four seasons if they drop straight back down.
“We’ve got a massive opportunity over 90 minutes to get back into the golden league, where it all happens,” West Ham manager Sam Allardyce told reporters. “Hopefully we can hold it together.”
Kevin Nolan opened the scoring for West Ham with a header after 15 minutes at Upton Park in east London. Ricardo Vaz Te’s shot five minutes before halftime made it 2-0 and Nicky Maynard completed the scoring in the final minute of the game with a shot into the top corner of the net.
West Ham was relegated from the Premier League last season after finishing last in the 20-team standings. This year it missed out on the two automatic promotion spots from the second-tier Championship, finishing third behind Southampton and Reading.
Fifty-four percent of all promoted teams retained their Premier League status the next season, according to Infostrada Sports. The percentage rises to 63 percent for teams who finish first in the Championship.
Birmingham hosts Blackpool in the second leg of their semifinal tomorrow. Blackpool won the first game 1-0.
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