Fans of Blackpool and West Ham are heading for Wembley Stadium for English soccer’s Championship playoff final, which will secure promotion to the Premier League and at least 90 million pounds ($145 million) for the winner.
Both teams were relegated from the 20-team top flight last year, and Hammers’ manager Sam Allardyce has described today’s game as bigger than the Champions League final.
“The Champions League final is a glory game, this is about your livelihood and your status,” Allardyce was cited by the Press Association as saying. “The Champions League is a big tournament but this one is about changing people’s lives.”
The playoff final is the richest soccer match in the world. Winning it is worth at least 90 million pounds, 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.
Blackpool will be making its second playoff final appearance in three seasons. The Tangerines beat Cardiff 3-2 in 2010 to return to the top division for the first time since 1971.
“I think history shows in play-off games it’s who performs on the day, who doesn’t freeze and who doesn’t bottle it that generally wins it,” PA cited Blackpool striker Kevin Phillips as saying.
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.
The winner of the play-off final will join Reading and Southampton in the Premier League after they were automatically promoted as the champion and runner-up in the Championship this season.