Championship play-off final: Over 29m reasons for Hull or Robins to reach top flight

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The Independent Online

Bristol City and Hull City, thrilled by the prospect of Saturday's Championship play-off final but probably apprehensive about what may await the winners, can take heart from the figures opposite Derby County's name this season. OK, not the ones recording a single victory and 11 points from 38 games, but the one that reads £29,130,314.

That is the income that the worst team in Premier League history received from television fees (£28,409,993) and the merit money (£720,321) that is based on position in the table. Nor does the total include revenue from matches – Pride Park gates went up by 7,000 – or all the extra sponsorship and commercial opportunities available to members of the top flight. In contrast, television receipts for Championship clubs are between £1m and £2m.

And there's more: as compensation for losing out on these riches next season, Derby will be handed a first parachute payment of £11,392,016, with the same amount to follow 12 months later if they fail to achieve promotion. No wonder the good people of Bristol and Hull are so keen to risk what will be known for years to come as "doing a Derby".

With due respect to the beatensemi-finalists, Crystal Palace and Watford, both of whom have had their chance before, many will also welcome the promotion of Stoke City and another provincial newcomer, increasing the geographical spread at the top.

As the Football League's Andy Knee, who has direct responsibility for the operational and commercial side of the Championship, puts it: "We certainly think, and I know the Premier League do, that it's great to have two clubs who haven't beenthere before.

"Of course it's a step up in quality, but there are also teams like Wigan and Fulham who've gone up and managed to establish themselves. If you stay true to some of the things that got you there and can add strength in important positions then you've got every chance."

Recent statistics make that an optimistic reading. Not since 2002 have all three promoted teams stayed up; in the subsequent six seasons, 10 out of 18 were relegated immediately, while West Bromwich Albion and Reading went down the following year.

However, 3pm on Saturday at Wembley will not be the time or place for such considerations. Stephen Lansdown, the expectant chairman of Bristol City, says: "There are two aspects of wanting to get into the Premier League. First and foremost is not the money but the enjoyment and the challenge of meeting the top clubs in the country. The financial rewards are there to be seen and if applied wisely, they'll help your club to progress. It'sa quantum leap from, say, an£8m turnover to a minimum £40m turnover."

Having secured their place, the winning club must then tread the fine line between strengthening sufficiently to have a reasonable chance of staying up and risking financial security. Knee says: "Clubs are quite cute now about needing to have clauses in contracts that wages are dependent on what division they're in. But it's not easy to negotiate that with quality players, given you're typically having to sign them on three- or four-year contracts. It's a challenge."

In the West Country and on Humberside, that is a challenge they are desperate to take on. Lansdown insists: "I do get a little bit fed-up with people referring to Derby, because it's been one poor year for that particular club.

"Whoever goes up, whether it's us or Hull, will have a golden chance to establish themselves as a major football club in England. Who is going to turn down that opportunity?"

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