Stakes are high for West Ham and Blackpool

Reuters

Fri, 18 May 13:22:00 2012

Hours before the Champions League final kicks off in Munich on Saturday, West Ham United and Blackpool contest a fixture at Wembley that will attract a larger attendance, no little hype and, as a one-off game, is more lucrative for the winner.

The English Championship playoff final offers the golden ticket to the Premier league as its prize, with 45 million pounds ($71.16 million) in extra revenue the financial carrot for West Ham or Blackpool if they gain promotion to the most-hyped domestic league in world football.

While the greater glory will be experienced by Bayern Munich and Chelsea in Bavaria, the winners will only bank nine million extra euros for inscribing their name on the trophy.

Even their season's income from Europe's flagship tournament, expected to be around the 50 million euros accumulated by Barcelona last season, fails to match the high-stakes being played for at Wembley.

The Championship playoff final has established itself in the fabric of English football and because of the build-up and Wembley fanfare overshadows the achievements of the two clubs (Reading and Southampton this season) who earn automatic promotion from the second tier of English football.

Saturday's playoff final is the 26th in the series that began in 1987 under a different format when Charlton Athletic, who had finished fourth from bottom in the top flight, beat Leeds United (who finished fourth in the old division two).

MINI TOURNAMENT

The following year, when the playoffs also involved one team from the top flight and the third, fourth and fifth-placed teams from the second tier, Chelsea tumbled out of the elite in a two-legged final defeat against Middlesbrough.

Since then, the playoffs have been a mini tournament between the third, fourth, fifth and sixth-placed teams in what is now branded as the Championship.

Some of the fading names of England's rich footballing history, the likes of Burnley, Derby County and Notts County have made brief returns to top flight via playoff finals while Blackpool, once graced by the wing wizardry of Stanley Matthews, have fresh memories of success.

Two years ago, they beat Cardiff City 3-2 at Wembley to return to the top echelon for the first time in 39 years and although Ian Holloway's team narrowly failed to survive, they have re-grouped and are again knocking on the door.

West Ham were also relegated last season after finishing rock bottom of the table under Avram Grant.

A regular member of the Premier League over the past decade, their need is perhaps greater than Blackpool's as the club owners are still chipping away at alarming debts, have many players on top-flight salaries and are hoping to become tenants of the Olympic Stadium from 2014.

They were favourites for automatic promotion under Sam Allardyce but, after finishing third, must now hold their nerve in the playoff final, having beaten Cardiff in the semis.

SECURITY NET

Another year deprived of the television revenue guaranteed for the top clubs would hamper their efforts to move forward although, like Blackpool, West Ham have the security net of another 32 million pounds of "parachute" payments over the next two seasons if they do not return to the Premier League.

"While (last year's playoff winners) Swansea City were assured of a 90 million pounds windfall the fact that West Ham and Blackpool are still eligible for parachute payments means that in real terms they are playing for 45 million pounds," Adam Ball of Deloitte told Reuters on Friday.

"Clubs who are relegated and don't come back up for at least three seasons get 16 million pounds per season. However, it's still the most financially lucrative match in football and opens the door for so many other spin-offs."

West Ham's co-owner David Sullivan poured cold water on suggestions promotion would provide an instant fix to the club's debt - estimated at 110 million pounds when he and David Gold stepped in to rescue the club in 2010.

"To be honest, that is rubbish. I don't think people realise the financial burden on you if you go up," Sullivan, who became a millionaire through the adult entertainment industry, told The Sun. "Promotion alone brings a further 14 million pounds in debt with seven million going in bonuses and seven million to honour changes to player's contracts.

"We brought players on Premier league wages in the Championship. They didn't come for love, loyalty counts for nothing in football. Then if we are promoted we will bring in another four or five new players.

"Work it out? The richest game in football doesn't cover that. ($1 = 0.6324 British pounds)

 

Comment 1 - 13 of 13

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  1. Time for another pill Dennis!

    From JOHN, on Sat 19 May 12:36
  2. Yawn, Dennis change the record concentrate on your own­ team your jealousy of West Ham is boring. I am not­ going slag off Millwall because because the are so­ inconsequential that we West Ham fans don't think­ of you because in footballing terms you don't mean­ anything to anyone you've always been there just to­ make up the numbers,

    From Tony G, on Sat 19 May 11:01
  3. The plan is to sell upturned park, flatten it then use­ it as an overspill car park for the olympics then after­ Blackpool beat Dame Brookings prima Donnas today they­ stay in the championship next season & ground share­ with the orient or charlton Pathetic !! Simples as­ Sergie would say !! PS Watch out for the Millwall Air­ Force in the sky over Wembley at 4.45 today. Good luck­ Blackpool from Millwall.

    From Dennis, on Sat 19 May 10:24
  4. Mick West Ham brought St Johns Catholic School to­ re-develop the DR Martins (West Stand) late­ 70s'/early 80s'. No the ground was brought­ outright from the Catholic Church, Therefore West Ham­ own the land outright which the current owners would­ sell for re-development should they decide to move to­ another stadium (Olympic). That would free the owners­ to complete with the o2 arena when football is not­ being staged, which would bring in additional revenue­ but destroy the atmosphere at West Ham home games..­ Anyway when we re-join the elite tomorrow at about 5pm­ that will al resurface and take over as the main thrust­ . In 2 seasons time (maybe less) Di Canio will be back­ at his spiritual home and we will be complete. Once­ we've shifted some dead wood. COYI

    From Tony G, on Sat 19 May 1:48
  5. Blackpool. Good luck from Millwall.

    From Dennis, on Fri 18 May 20:11
  6. Lets get tomorrow over people,with the right result of­ course then we can get those shovels out and start­ digging extra large holes for some of the daft ideas­ this board has!!!. Anybody got a spare pair of binos we­ could be needing these. Come on you IRONS lets have our­ own bus ride-- Best of luck all.

    From John, on Fri 18 May 19:06
  7. Wait did this article just state that the winners of­ the Championship play offs earn more from winning than­ the Champions league winners? And what about the teams­ who finished 1st and 2nd in the championship?

    From Benny, on Fri 18 May 17:48
  8. welldone THE HAMMERS, you'll do it. glad to see you­ back in the prem [where you belong]norwich fan.

    From R, on Fri 18 May 17:10
  9. Sullivan is a pillock and his hat is made from fur from­ Karren Bradys lady garden...as a neutral i hope­ Blackpool stuff them.

    From Dangermouse, on Fri 18 May 16:27
  10. John , correct me if I am wrong but I always thought­ that the church owned the land Upton Park is built on ?

    From MICK, on Fri 18 May 16:08
  11. ONE WINNER OF THIS GAME :- BLACKPOOL

    From Alan, on Fri 18 May 14:02
  12. The problem with Sullivan is that he only mentions the­ price of rejoining the prem. Should we succeed in­ moving to the olympic stadium (something alot of­ hammers supporters do not want)what will the debt be­ then? Not only is it the cost of redeveloping the­ stadium it is the cost of trust in the supporters. We­ are the ones who bring in alot of revenue through­ season tickets etc. We are not only supporters we hold­ a big interest in what goes on.

    From martin, on Fri 18 May 14:01
  13. Ahem, excuse me Mr Sullivan and what would be the­ redevelopment value of the Upton Park site? Or­ doesn't that come into the evaluation?

    From JOHN, on Fri 18 May 13:44
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