Blackpool players target £5m windfall in Championship play-off
For a bunch of players whose salaries dip to £90 a week each summer, the bonus on offer for Blackpool's players this weekend is an eye-watering prospect in itself, let alone thoughts of promotion to the Premier League and the financial bonanza that would bring.
The Blackpool players were told at the start of the season that the extra pot would be £5m in total, the individual sums paid out being dependent on how long each player has on the Wembley pitch on Sunday afternoon, with £500,000 the maximum for an individual. Ian Evatt, the 6ft 2in central defender whose career has been a tour of modest clubs, believes it will be money well spent. "It's pretty big but it's exciting times," he said. "It's well known that the chairman [Karl Oyston] is going to get £90m for going up, so what's £5m in the grand scale of things?"
The figure certainly dwarfs the £1.6m bonus on offer to Dave Jones' Cardiff, with whom Ian Holloway's side fight out the Championship play-off on Sunday, though the fact that the salary slips to £90 in the summer reveals quite what a gulf there is for Blackpool, too. "We get paid 52 weeks of the year, the club doesn't have as much income in the summer, hence why the chairman does it that way," 28-year-old Evatt explained.
Evatt's working relationship with his manager began inauspiciously at QPR in 2005. The defender was signed from Chesterfield for £150,000 without Holloway knowing, much to the manager's displeasure, though Holloway soon parted company with the club, followed by Evatt, who headed up to Bloomfield Road on loan ahead of their promotion from League One via the 2007 play-offs. The two were reunited at Blackpool last summer. They appreciate each other more these days.
Blackpool, with their 4-3-3 formation, have helped themselves to 80 league goals this season and lie behind only promoted Newcastle and West Bromwich in the Championship goalscoring charts – a return which reflects the way Holloway rethought the game during a season out of work after he was dismissed from Leicester. "He's changed no end, his way of playing, his way of thinking," Evatt said. "In the year out of the game he had, he realised that he couldn't carry on [with a route one form of football.] He watched a lot of Barcelona and Swansea, those sort of teams, the 4-3-3 teams, and he came up with a system that he believed in. His confidence in that system came across to us."
Holloway might be perceived as a joker – his one-liners are among the game's most quoted – but another promotion would change that. "I think it already should have changed," Evatt said. "I don't think anyone gave us a hope of getting where we are now. I think it's only in the last few weeks that people have started realising we are a good team. We play some lovely stuff and that's down to him really. I won't be surprised to see bigger clubs come knocking for him in the summer."
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