LONDON (Reuters) - Derby County can look forward to a 120 million pounds windfall if they beat Queens Park Rangers in the Championship playoff at Wembley on Saturday and return to the Premier League.
That is the staggering prize up for grabs for former England coach Steve McClaren’s side, while QPR, who were relegated from the top flight last season, would expect to be 80 million pounds richer should they prevail in English soccer’s most lucrative match.
Derby’s net return would be more as they have been outside the top flight for six years, while QPR would still benefit from so-called Premier League parachute payments even if they lose.
With such enormous financial rewards at stake, McClaren, who spent a short spell at QPR this season as part of manager Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff, said it was important that players’ minds remain focussed on the task in hand.
“We finished third and I suppose with the points we ended up with, we would have gone up automatically in previous seasons,” McClaren, who transformed Derby’s fortunes this season after being appointed manager in September, told the club website.
“However, if we are to achieve promotion we’ll have to do it this way. Third taking on fourth means the best two teams outside the automatic places go head-to-head, and it’ll be very interesting, I am sure.”
The Premier League’s three-year, three billion pounds broadcasting deal, which came into effect this season, means membership of the top flight has never been more attractive.
Cardiff City, who finished bottom of the table, earned 62 million pounds in prize money, more than Manchester United received for winning the title in 2012-13.
“The winners at Wembley can expect a significant revenue increase in 2014/15, their first season following promotion to the Premier League,” Adam Bull, senior consultant in the Sports Business Group at accountants Deloitte, said.
”This will be at least 60 million (pounds) for Derby County and at least 40 million for QPR, who are already in receipt of Premier League parachute payments.
“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.”
While clubs gaining promotion to the top flight have often struggled to stay up, the recent trend is more positive.
In every one of the last six seasons, at least two of the three promoted clubs have survived at least one campaign.
“The success stories of Swansea City and Crystal Palace should only serve as motivation for this year’s playoff winners,” added Bull.
While promotion would ensure a financial jackpot, Bull said clubs needed to plan ahead rather than blow their new-found wealth on expensive transfers and players’ wages.
“The continued increase in the value of promotion to the Premier League provides newly promoted clubs [with] the opportunity to make strategic investment on and off the pitch,” he said.
“Inevitably, the short-term priority is usually investment in the playing side of the business, but clubs need to also look to the medium and long–term.”
($1 = 0.5925 British Pounds)
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Justin Palmer