The stage is set for the most lucrative game in world soccer this Saturday — and no, I’m not referring to the final of the UEFA Champions League between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
While the winner of that clash will earn the game’s greatest accolade, it’s the English Championship playoff final that offers the biggest financial reward going by a huge margin.
In fact, the victor at Wembley between Fulham and Aston Villa this weekend will pocket a minimum of £160m ($213 million USD) in TV revenue by winning promotion to the Premier League, according to Deloitte.
That sum is spread over three years and could rise significantly still to roughly £280m ($373 million USD) should the promoted side avoid the drop in their first season back in the top flight. While the Champions League trophy will go down in a club’s history, the financial disparity between winning and losing prize funds from UEFA is only around £4m. Lifting the Championship playoff trophy, meanwhile, would go a long way toward helping either Fulham or Villa build a better future.
So what of the game itself? Well, for all intents and purposes, this is the chance that both clubs have deserved this season, having disposed of sides below them in the table in the semifinals.
Setting the Stage
Fulham, who just missed out on an automatic promotion spot, are favored to win the match at +143. Villa are currently priced at +244. Keep in mind if you are betting on soccer that these lines are for regulation only. If the game is tied after 90 minutes, the draw (+210) cashes.
Fulham finished third and eventually sawed off sixth-placed Derby after a first-leg defeat, while Aston Villa ended fourth and dumped out the team directly below them in the form of Middlesbrough courtesy of just one Mile Jedinak goal across their two meetings.