Villa aim for world’s biggest prize

By Graham Hill

IT’S official – Monday’s Championship Play-off final has the biggest prize in world sport for the winner.

Promotion to the Premier League means a guaranteed £170million – even that team finishes bottom of the division next season.

Villa co-owner Wes Edens says the money at stake means the game is ‘a financial cliff’.

The money comes from the Premier League’s media deals which are worth millions.

But, as Villa found out to their cost last season, defeat leaves you stuck in the Championship and counting the pennies.

Speaking last month on the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast, Edens, the co-founder of Fortress Investment Group said the difference in broadcast money alone for a team in the Premier League versus the second tier is at least £80million a year.

bloomberg.com broke down the eye-watering figures for its readers.

“Here’s how it works: Every year the three worst performers are demoted from the Premier League, and three teams are promoted to take their place. The top two teams in England’s second tier are guaranteed a spot in the higher league, and the next four finishers enter a playoff for that third and final spot — which Derby County and Aston Villa are now vying for.

“Monday’s match is “definitely the most valuable single-game prize in any team sport,” said Stefan Szymanski, a University of Michigan economist. While similar games in Germany and Spain also have big financial implications, nothing comes close to England’s because of the Premier League’s TV deals, he said.

“The Premier League divvies up its media millions based on how well a team performs and how often it is on TV. The payouts form the bulk of most teams’ annual revenue, vastly outpacing ticket sales or sponsorships.

“According to Deloitte, the revenue difference between a middling Premier League season and a year in the Championship is about $120 million. If Monday’s winner is demoted after just one season, it will also receive a parachute payment of about $95 million over two years.

“Previous playoff winners have had varied levels of success. Fulham, who won promotion last year by beating Villa, were relegated after its first season. Huddersfield Town, who won the 2017 playoff, stayed up for two seasons before being sent down alongside Fulham. Then there’s Crystal Palace, who won the playoff in 2013 and is still in the Premier League.

“Villa are no stranger to England’s top tier. The club were a founding member of the Premier League in 1992, when it finished second, and stayed there until 2016.

“Derby County, on the other hand, has spent most of the Premier League era in the lower tier. The club had just two short Premiership stints, never finishing above eighth.

“In addition to the clubs, a number of sponsors will win or lose on Monday. Aston Villa’s official shirt provider is local menswear brand is Luke 1977. Derby County’s official partners include Marton’s plc, a pub and hotel operator based in nearby Wolverhampton.

“One company that might not be sweating the outcome — online gambling operator 32Red. The Gibraltar-based casino and sports betting company, owned by Kindred Group Plc, is the main jersey sponsor for both teams.”

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