Fulham and Aston Villa stand to receive at least £160m in future revenues by winning this Saturday’s Championship play-off final, but despite the obvious incentive industry analysts Deloitte warn that clubs should not spend beyond their means in pursuit of Premier League riches.
According to Deloitte’s Sport Business Group the two clubs could even earn as much as £280m if they win the most valuable match in world football and then survive their first season in the Premier League.
Fulham, who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion this season, are due a minimum of £170m should they triumph at Wembley. That sum is a combination of at least £95m in Premier League revenue for next season plus £75m in guaranteed future parachute payments, which would be activated if they were relegated again.
Aston Villa are set for a minimum of £160m as they have already had some parachute payments, following their demotion in 2016, so promotion would see them forego the third instalment of around £10m.
The sums are eye-watering, yet Deloitte analysts insist that clubs should not bet the house on big-name signings and lose sight of the need for clear business planning, sensible strategic investment and cost control when targeting promotion.
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“If you embark on that process of spending heavily in a short amount of time and it doesn’t pay off you risk the solvency of the club itself due to the need to continually fund those players on big contracts,” Deloitte Sport Business Group consultant Sam Boor told City A.M.
“Ultimately, there are financial fair play rules and short-term cost control measurements within the Football League that restrict the amount clubs can spend. They may be able to do it for one or two seasons but if it doesn’t pay- they may get themselves into a spot of bother in the years that follow.”
Leicester and Bournemouth both received fines for overspending on their way up, although those gambles paid off -- spectacularly in the case of the Foxes, who won the Premier League. QPR were also sanctioned, slipped back down and are still dealing with the fallout on and off the pitch. Other clubs, such as Huddersfield, have shown that promotion and survival are still possible on a tight budget.
History suggests that the chances of the three promoted clubs staying in the league for more than a season are strong.
Deloitte calculates that of the 30 teams promoted over the last decade, 20 — 67 per cent — have survived their first season in the top tier. Last season all three promoted sides — Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton — stayed up for the first time in six years.