The biggest trophy in club soccer is up for grabs this weekend, when Real Madrid plays Liverpool in Kiev to be crowned the winner of the European Champions League.
However, the biggest cash prize the beautiful game has to offer will actually be given out at Wembley Stadium a few hours earlier — with a game potentially worth more than $370 million.
A place in next season’s English Premier League, with all of the riches it brings, will be won by either Aston Villa or Fulham in this season’s Championship Playoff Final.
For either Fulham (based in London) or Aston Villa (based in Birmingham), there will be an increase in revenue of at least £160 million ($214 million) for the first year in the top division, rising to more than £280 million if the team manages to avoid relegation in its first season.
“Whilst in football terms the UEFA Champions League Final is the bigger game, the financial rewards on offer in Kiev are dwarfed by those at stake in north London. The difference between winning and losing for Liverpool this weekend, is a mere £4 million in distributions from UEFA and they are already assured of appearing in next year’s competition.” Dan Jones, a partner and head of the Sports Business Group at audit firm Deloitte, said in a press release.
In the last 10 seasons, 20 of the 30 clubs promoted to the English Premier League have avoided relegation in their first campaign. The 2017/18 season was the first in seven years where all three of the promoted clubs avoided first-year relegation.
Brand exposure for a team once it has made it into England’s top division is also lucrative, with a huge global reach compared to the league below, largely thanks to a much bigger share of TV rights money.
The two teams involved at Wembley are both currently backed by billionaire foreign owners. Shahid Khan owns Fulham as well as NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars. Earlier this month he also launched a bid to buy Wembley Stadium from the English Football Association.
The Chinese businessman Tony Xia, the owner and CEO of Recon Group, is in charge at Aston Villa. Villa’s return to the Premier League would be a timely one, as it would be entering into the final year of “parachute payments.” These are three amounts paid annually given out to sides in order to ease the burden of relegation, which the team suffered in 2016.
Fulham as well has been an established Premier League side in the past and will want to seize this opportunity to not only enjoy the financial rewards on offer, but also make it back to play amongst England’s elite sides next season.