The world's most valuable football match takes place this weekend – not in the moneyed surrounds of the Santiago Bernabeu, the Etihad Stadium or the Parc des Princes, but in a rather more mundane setting.
Middlesbrough host Brighton at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday lunchtime in a straight fight for promotion to the Premier League that Deloitte estimates is worth at least £170m to the victor.
That figure, which includes extra television income and so-called parachute payments, rises to £290m if the team that goes up succeeds in staying in top flight for at least one more season. Deloitte’s Richard Battle said it amounted to “football’s most lucrative prize”.
Second-placed Boro are favourites to bank the windfall since a draw would be enough to return the north-east side to the first tier of English football for the first time since their relegation in 2009.
Brighton, who have only spent four seasons at in the highest division and not since 1983, are level on points but have an inferior goal difference so must inflict only Boro’s third home league defeat of the campaign.
Burnley secured the first of the Championship’s two automatic promotion spots with one match to spare and will be crowned champions if they win at already-doomed Charlton.
The Clarets pocketed the smaller sum of £110m for that triumph because, owing to their 2015 relegation from the Premier League, they were already benefiting from parachute payments.
Clubs who drop out of the top flight receive parachute payments to help them offset the plunge in centrally-distributed revenue. Deloitte says the payments will be worth £75m over two years.
Boro’s clash with Brighton is effectively an early version of the play-off final, which typically offers world football’s biggest bounty due to the vast riches on offer in the Premier League.
That game, which will take place later his month at Wembley, will also be worth £170m to the winner – up £40m on last year because new TV contracts will guarantee top-flight clubs close to £100m a year from next season.