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The Championship Playoffs – The Richest Game In Football

The Championship season has finished and the focus now beckons on the richest game in football, the Playoffs.

England’s second tier becomes more and more exciting with every passing season. This season Leicester finished top of the pile with a whopping 102 points,


  Team Points
1 Leicester 102
2 Burnley 93
3 Derby 85
4 QPR 80
5 Wigan 73
6 Brighton 72

Derby reignited their season with the appointment of Steve McClaren, Wigan had a tremendous run in the FA Cup with Uwe Rosler and QPR pretty much have to get promoted again to the PL in order to stay in business.

The format of the playoffs is that the 3rd placed team will play the 6th placed team. i.e Derby v Brighton where Brighton play at Home first and then Derby are at Home for the 2nd leg; which seems fair. The same methodology can be applied to 4th v 5th. Extra Time rules and Penalties apply if the scores are a draw on aggregate over the 2 legs of the Semi Finals. Away goals no longer apply to the Playoffs.

Who is favourite to win it?

If I was a betting man, my natural instinct would be telling me that the League Table outlines that Derby appears to be the best team on form this season out of the four teams so would think they are the favourites.

Looking back over the years; as far as until the ‘Championship’ replaced ‘Division 1’ i.e 04/05 Season, we see that in 5 of the 9 case studies, the 3rd placed team has won the promotion spot to the PL.

04/05 05/06 06/07 07/08 08/09
3rd Ipswich Watford Derby Hull Sheffield United
4th Derby Preston West Brom Bristol Reading
5th Preston Leeds Wolves Crystal Palace Burnley
6th West Ham Crystal Palace Southampton Watford Preston
  09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14
3rd Notts Forrest Swansea West Ham Watford Derby
4th Cardiff Cardiff Birmingham Brighton QPR
5th Leicester Reading Blackpool Crystal Palace Wigan
6th Blackpool Notts Forrest Cardiff Leicester Brighton

Big Money

Deloitte Sports Business group last year broke down the £120m windfall payment that could be earned by the promoted team. Let’s have a look at the breakdown.

The three championship teams that get promoted this season can expect a revenue increase of c. £60m for the 14/15 season. The vast majority of this money can be attributed to broadcast deals where the PL is now in its 2nd year of the three-year deal.

Even if the promoted club then gets relegated next season (such as Cardiff this season), then the club will receive parachute payments which may add up to £60m over the next 3 years.

How the Parachute Payments (PP) work is actually quite interesting.

Year 1: The PP is 55% of one equal share of PL domestic and overseas TV revenue, minus the solidarity payment (c.€2.5m) that Championship clubs get every year from the PL.

So in Year 1, using 2012/2013 figures as outlined by outline, domestic (£14m) and overseas TV revenue (£19m), That equates to £33m X 55% = £18m minus the solidarity payment (£2.5m) = £15.5m

The same formula is applied to Year 2 except 45%. And Year 3 has 25%.

So add up the figures

Revenue Increase: £60m

Parachute Payment: Year 1 £16m

Parachute Payment: Year 2 £13m

Parachute Payment: Year 3 £6m

Total: £95m

The figures above are approximate figures. However, revenue mentioned above does not include potential for increased shirt sales, increased attendances at higher prices and also increased revenue from Sponsorship.


As long as the format and distribution of finances for the playoffs stay the same, this game will continue to increase in value as the increase in broadcasting income and parachute payments continue to rise on a year-to-year basis.

The reason why this is the most expensive game in sport is that the winner can bank up to c.£120m from promotion and the loser gets nothing. Theory would suggest that this £120m is bankable, however, history outlines that the money is spent on players who can improve the club’s chances of not being relegated back into the Championship. Maybe clubs need to look more closely at ways to spend the money off the pitch in such areas as youth development to benefit the club in medium to long term.

Chris Herlihy, Pundit Arena.

Featured Image By Egghead06 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.