Monday, June 17, 2024
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Championship playoff final: What’s at stake in the richest game in sports as Leeds, Southampton battle

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On Sunday, the richest game in sport will take place as Leeds United and Southampton will meet to determine the final promoted team to the Premier League. After both were relegated during the 2022-23 season, one will bounce right back to the top flight while the other will spend another season in the Championship, only adding to the stakes at Wembley. 

The benefits of being back in the Premier League for this duo may not be the same as Luton Town being promoted last season but make no mistake about it, this is where everyone wants to be. According to Deloitte, the winning team will see a revenue increase of at least £140 million which can rise to £305 million if they are to avoid relegation. This is due to parachute payments which rise in value if a team is able to stay in the Premier League for more than one season.

Losing in this match is where things can get sticky for a team as top Championship sides usually spend beyond their means in hope of reaching the Premier League. Due to sales of James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Latvia, Tino Livramento, Nathan Tella, and Mohammed Salisu, the Saints have a net spend that would see them be fine even if they aren’t promoted right back to the Premier League, while Leeds United will be in a more dire situation.

Leeds had a balanced transfer budget this season thanks to selling Tyler Adams to Bournemouth but balanced won’t be good enough for the lack of Premier League revenue coming in. If Leeds United aren’t promoted valuable players like Archie Gray and Wilfried Gnonto may need to be sold to balance the books. This is why if a team doesn’t earn promotion back to the Premier League in their first season in the Championship, the road back to the top flight can be a long one.

The stakes at hand are also why the promotion final can be such a tense affair. Since 2014, only one playoff final has seen over two goals scored and it took extra time for Fulham to do that, defeating Brentford 2-1 in 2020. Two finals in the past 10 have gone to penalties as well so don’t expect many goals with so much on the line Sunday.

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