Hayward reaps dividends of costly investment

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The Independent Football

The financial rewards of winning a place in the Premiership were probably not top of Sir Jack Hayward's list of priorities as he spent £60m trying to take his home-town club back into the top flight of English football. However, the jackpot of up to £30m that Wolverhampton Wanderers won with their play-off victory in Cardiff yesterday will be seen as just reward for the commitment shown by the club's long-standing benefactor.

The difference between playing in the Premiership and the First Division is huge, particularly when it comes to television income. Annual TV revenue for the whole of the Nationwide League totals £26m, while each Premiership club earns an average of £25m. The basic annual TV award for Nationwide clubs is £586,000, compared with £9.4m for Premiership clubs; the live TV fees are £60,000 and £970,000 per match respectively.

Manchester United earned £19.85m from Sky in the season that has just finished, while West Bromwich Albion, the lowest TV earners, pocketed £11.79m. Every Premiership club also earned £3.7m from overseas TV rights and, for the successful, there is even bigger money to be earned from Europe - Manchester United cashed £16m from the Champions' League.

Prize money in the Premiership has also become a big factor, with £503,000 awarded for every place in the table. If Middlesbrough had won their last game of the season, they would have finished eighth and won £6.54m in prize money; they lost, finished 11th, and earned £1.5m less.

While Wolves should also enjoy increased income from sponsorship and advertising, plus greater revenue from ticket sales, this will to some extent be cancelled out by wage increases and transfer fees.

It seems certain that Wolves will have a busy summer in the transfer market. Although Hayward gave major backing to Dave Jones, the club's manager, as he built his team, several of his signings were seasoned professionals. Are Paul Ince, aged 36, Denis Irwin, 38, and Alex Rae, 34, up to another Premiership campaign?

One regret for Wolves will be that they do not have a bigger stadium. Molineux, one of the first grounds to be redeveloped as an all-seated venue, is among the best-appointed stadiums in the country, but its capacity of 28,000 is low by Premiership standards. Wolves had an average gate of 25,745 this season and every league match looks sure to be a sell-out.