Johnson seeks the answer to £100m question

Granted Wednesday's kickaround in Moscow was a big game, with a major prize, but winning the European Cup has not significantly changed Manchester United plc, nor its local community. Both were already successful, and globally recognised.

This afternoon's match at Wembley is a different matter. Victory in the Championship play-off final could change the destinies of Bristol City and Hull City forever. It would also provide their communities with worldwide visibility. The Premier League, as it never ceases to tell us, is one of the planet's most popular brands and competing in it can open doors east to Tokyo and west to Seattle. More than a decade ago businessmen in Blackburn talked about how beneficial Rovers' success was when it came to competing for foreign markets. The Robins and the Tigers can give their own economies a similar boost.

Hull particularly stands to gain. It may be special enough for Nick Barmby to drop down the divisions to play for his home town, but even in England Hull is regarded as being out on a limb. Promotion today could provide further impetus to the port's regeneration .

"We have a lot of new developments going up providing new office space and apartments, but being in the Premier League can give us something no amount of building can bring," said Ben Delaney, the project development officer at Hull and Humberside Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Delaney added: "Everyone here is saying promotion would put Hull on the map. There are also lots of economic benefits, and aspects, such as giving people pride in their city."

Barmby agreed. "To see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo coming to the KC Stadium, and going to places like Anfield and Old Trafford, would have a massive positive effect on the city," he said. "It would mean everything to the people of Hull."

For the clubs itself the match is worth upwards of £60m (one source at newly-promoted Stoke City believes going up could ultimately be worth £100m). Just going up, and coming down immediately, would bring £55m in television income and parachute payments. Then there are the merchandising spin-offs, corporate entertainment (more lucrative to Hull, with their modern ground, than Bristol City) and increased gate receipts. Even Derby, despite their awful season just gone, virtually sold out every game.

Not much pressure then, for Gary Johnson and Phil Brown, the managers, and their respective teams. Johnson's City also have a new ground to build, one which could host World Cup matches in 2018. Unsurprisingly, with so much at stake he is concentrating on the football. Johnson hopes, and believes his players will do the same.

"I don't think the £60m means much to the players to be honest," he said. "I think it means more to the accounts department because they have to make the figures add up. This group of lads will not have one thought about the money. Once the game kicks off, it's a game of football that we've got to win. All the bits that come after – the finances and everything – really do come after."

For now his chairman agrees. Stephen Lansdown said: "I'm a bit fed up with people talking about £60m and 'What are you going to do with it' and 'How's it going to work?'" he said. "If we got in the Premier League I would look forward to going to the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford. That would be absolutely fantastic, seeing Bristol City in the same League and the same company as those teams."

City, though, know the importance of making the books add up, and not just because Lansdown is co-founder of financial advisors Hargreaves Lansdown. It is 32 years since Alan Dicks led a City team which included Gerry Gow and Clive Whitehead into the old First Division. They survived four seasons but mismanaged the finances so badly relegation was followed by bankruptcy after key players were given lucrative long-term contracts.

By 1982 City were in the Fourth Division after three relegations in three years. It has been a long climb back to the brink of the elite.

Hull have never been in the top flight. It is, as has been endlessly repeated, Europe's largest city not to play in the top level of its national league. That is some monkey on the back and Brown, who has made the most of a second chance in management after a difficult spell at Derby, is putting his faith in positive thought. "All our focus has to be on belief," he said. "We have to go out there believing that we are good enough to belong in the Premier League, that will be key."

Brown, who like Johnson picks from a fully fit squad, added: "If we don't think we're going to be a Premier League side tomorrow, that attitude will manifest itself in a poor performance. I watched Manchester United play Chelsea and they looked as though they knew they would win the Champions League, they believed in it. My players need to believe in themselves but I fully believe that we will be a Premier League club."

It would be surprising if, as they walk out at Wembley today, Hull's captain Ian Ashbee, goalkeeper Boaz Myhill and left-back Andy Dawson did not pinch themselves in disbelief. Promotion would complete a five-year climb from fourth tier to first for Hull with that trio there all the way.

Staying in the Premier League would be an even greater achievement, for either side, but today's victors can start worrying about that on Monday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee