Blackpool and Cardiff target play-off pay-off

Cardiff City and Blackpool go head to head this Saturday in a game dubbed the most valuable in world football.

The winners of the Football League Championship play-off final stand to gain around £90 million, up 50 percent on the value of last year’s promotion prize.

Both clubs will be looking to bring top-flight football to a new generation of their fans, with The Tangerines absent from the top tier since 1971 and Cardiff since 1961.

For The Bluebirds this would mark a great turn-around in fortunes, having been relegated to the basement of Football League a decade ago with £1.9m still owed to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Paul Rawnsley, Director of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “The Championship play-off final winners will benefit from at least £40m of additional revenue in 2010/11, the vast majority of this coming from television income and the rest from higher gate receipts and increased commercial income.

"In addition, even if a club is relegated after one year in the Premier League, parachute payments may be received over the following four seasons of up to £48m.

“In financial terms, this match offers the winning club the most substantial prize in world football and the value is now even greater as a result of the Premier League’s increased revenues from international broadcast rights and the extended parachute payments over four seasons.

"It is a prize which provides the opportunity for sound investment and strengthening the foundations of a club for years to come.”

Cardiff booked their place in the play-off final with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Leicester City. For The Bluebirds promotion would be the reward for five years of steady building by manager Dave Jones that have already seen the Welshmen reach the FA Cup.

Blackpool’s semi-final was no less short of drama, with a DJ Campbell hat-trick helping Pool twice come from behind to overcome Nottingham Forest.

The Lancastrians last appeared at Wembley three years ago when they won promotion to the Championship via the play-offs.

Victory on Saturday would cap a spectacular first season for manager Ian Holloway. The winning manager can take heart from the fact that clubs arriving in the Premier League are far from doomed to immediate relegation.

Alex Byars, Senior Consultant in the Sports Business Group, said: “Whilst some commentators talk of an unbridgeable gulf between the Championship and the Premier League for promoted clubs, the statistics do not bear this out.

"Over the past decade, over half (17) of the 30 newly promoted clubs have successfully retained their Premier League status in that crucial first season.

"The main priority for all of the promoted clubs will be survival which will require investment on and off the pitch.   The investment in the playing squad needs to be rational and the contracts need to have in-built protection against the risk of relegation, through variable pay clauses.”

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