How much is the Championship play-off final worth? Coventry and Luton battle it out for ‘football’s biggest financial prize’

Coventry City take on Luton Town in this season’s Championship play-off final on Saturday.

The two teams meet knowing that a place in the Premier League is up for grabs, a place in the English top flight having the potential to drastically change either club’s fortunes on and off the pitch.

Promotion via the play-off final nets you a trophy but also a much more sought-after prize with the financial boost that comes for the rising team.

“This weekend’s contest at Wembley offers the biggest financial prize in world football and will be great advertisement for the Championship after another exciting season,” said Zal Udwadia, deputy director of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.

“As both sides eye a return to the top flight for the first time in over two decades, the stakes are high. Coventry City and Luton Town faced each other in League Two just five seasons ago – a testament of strength, opportunity and competition in the English Football League pyramid.

“This weekend’s award will play a crucial role in helping to recruit talented players, as well as investing in infrastructure and fan experience to give the promoted team the best chance of remaining among the best. England teams.”

But how much do you earn for winning the Championship play-off final and what impact can that have on the losing team? Athleticism explain…

How much is victory in the final of the championship play-offs really worth?

Reaching the elite via the Championship play-off final in 2022-23 will earn the winner according to Deloitte Sports Business Group a revenue increase of at least £170m over the next three seasons.

That figure could rise to over £290m if the club avoid relegation after their debut season in the Premier League.

Deloitte, the accountancy firm, estimates a season in the Premier League will bring additional revenue of at least £90m.

Add two years of guaranteed parachute payments (the extra financial support the Premier League gives relegated clubs), worth nearly £80m, and the play-off final is likely to net around £170m on three years to its winners, even if their stay in the elite lasts only 12 months.


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The parachute payments ensure relegated clubs get 55% of the central distribution each Premier League club receives in their first season in the EFL and 45% in the second year. Clubs that had been in the Premier League for more than one season qualify for a final payment in the third year at 20%.

Nottingham Forest, who won promotion to the Premier League last season after beating Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final, have been granted a third year of parachute payments if they drop out after managing to stay after their win against Arsenal. They will also receive some sort of merit payment, like all Premier League teams, when the financial records for club payments are finally released for the 2022-23 season.

Forest won promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs last season (Picture: Getty Images)

Brentford, who finished 13th in their debut season in the Premier League, secured merit payments of almost £15m in 2021-22. Avoiding relegation in their debut season also guaranteed a third year of parachute payouts if they end up dropping out.

So there’s a chance that one from Coventry or Luton will receive almost £300million by 2028.

“Spent wisely is truly transformational money,” said Tim Bridge, director of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. Athleticism in 2021. “Maintaining your position in the Premier League is the greatest prize. This is how you can create a fully sustainable football club.

What can happen to teams that don’t win the Championship play-off final?

Much depends on the financial stability of the clubs and their impact.

For starters, the winners of the play-off final usually pay the losing team a share of their gate receipts. This is a traditional gentlemen’s agreement, which is usually around £2 million.

Huddersfield have gone further than six years ago, however.

Former owner Dean Hoyle has previously revealed £4million was given to Reading after their penalty shootout victory, which was settled when defender Christopher Schindler kicked the ball past goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi as an agreement had been reached between the two clubs before. the final which would see the creation of a consolation prize.

But we have also seen the dark side of losing a Championship play-off final in recent seasons, with clubs betting so much on securing promotion.

Derby County lost the Championship play-off final 2-1 to Aston Villa in 2019 and found themselves in administration, piled up in debt and now in League One, having narrowly missed the play-offs this season.

Reading lost to Huddersfield in the 2016-17 Championship play-off final on penalties and have recently suffered financial problems and relegation to League One. They were deducted six points in April this year following a a breach of EFL financial rules.

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Sheffield Wednesday lost 1-0 in the Championship play-off final in 2016 and were eventually relegated from the second tier in 2021 after a turbulent period under owner Dejphon Chansiri.

These three clubs came so close to winning promotion and their lives would have been so different had they won these games.

How can money change the fortunes of clubs?

Much depends on how clubs spend their money.

For example, salary increases usually come into effect for existing players at a promoted club, as do bonuses.

Forest spent over £150m on new signings in the summer transfer window and managed to stay put, with the club also making £21m in ‘promotion-related payments’.

There have, however, been examples of clubs failing to properly control their budgets.

Huddersfield is an example. No money was saved on their time in the Premier League, says former chairman Phil Hodgkinson Athleticism in 2021 that they “received £197m in prize money but spent £230m on playing wages and transfer fees”.

Huddersfield were promoted to the Premier League in 2017 but were relegated in 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)

“It’s very easy to sit there and say a club is going to get £170m and suddenly everything looks rosy,” Deloitte’s Bridge told Athleticism in 2021.

“The reality is often different.

“How you use that £170m is just as important to the club’s long-term future as performance on the pitch. Careful planning and skillful transfer spending are absolutely essential to get the most out of this financial price offered.

“We have seen many examples where clubs will spend a lot in the transfer window after promotion and it overwhelms them for a number of seasons after relegation. That ultimately means the £170million is essentially a bit worthless.

How did Coventry and Luton make the Championship play-off final?

Coventry, who finished fifth in the Championship, reached the play-off final after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 over two legs.

Mark Robins’ side survived Middlesbrough in the second semi-final, with Gustavo Hamer’s second-half goal enough to hand them a Premier League game.

Luton, meanwhile, beat Sunderland 3-2 on aggregate over two legs in the other semi-final.

It’s quite a story for both clubs, with both having been together in Ligue 2 as recently as the 2017-18 season.

When and where does the final of the championship play-offs take place?

This season’s Championship play-off final between Coventry and Luton will take place on Saturday May 27 at Wembley Stadium.

The match kicks off at 4.45pm BST (11.45am ET / 8.45am PT) and will be live for UK viewers on Sky Sports.

(Photo: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

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