Premier League: $246 million match is 'football's most lucrative prize'

    Story highlights

    • Middlesbrough or Brighton will be promoted on Saturday
    • Winner will receive $246 million income boost
    • Boro go up with a draw; Brighton need a win
    • Burnley already secured Premiership spot

    (CNN)It's the promotion shootout to end them all -- a $246 million winner-takes-all match to secure "football's most lucrative" prize.

    Either Middlesbrough or Brighton and Hove Albion will win the second automatic place for the Premier League when they meet on Saturday -- the final day of the Championship division in English football.
      The home team, Boro, are currently occupying that automatic spot and have another advantage -- although they are level on points with Brighton, their goal difference is superior.
      That means just a draw would be enough to take them into English soccer's top division. South coast side Brighton, known as the Seagulls, are sitting in third place and must win to avoid being pitched into the playoffs against the rest of the top six.
      Whoever is promoted on the nerve-shredding last day will receive bonus payments totaling a staggering $246 million over the next three seasons, according to a new report from the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
      The record-setting figure is valid even if the promoted team lasts just one year in the top flight.
      The loser, on the other hand, is left to contemplate the agony of the playoffs, in which semifinals played over two games are followed by a showpiece at Wembley Stadium.

      Playoff lottery

      Top-flight English football is booming thanks to the huge sums of money that media companies are willing to pay in the fight to secure live TV rights.
      The Premier League's new domestic TV deal, which kicks in next season for three years, will be worth $8 billion -- a massive increase on the $4.59 billion paid for the equivalent set of rights from 2013-16.
      Middlesbrough, from the northeast of England, lost out to Norwich in last season's playoff final and will be desperate to avoid the end-of-season lottery this time around.
      Brighton, in contrast, battled relegation last year before storming up the table this season -- a transformation loosely resembling that of fairytale Premier League champion Leicester.
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      So which club will emulate already-promoted Burnley and join the fantastic Foxes at English soccer's top table -- Boro or Brighton?
      Deloitte says whichever it is "will see an uplift in revenue of at least $246 million," with that eye-watering amount increasing to "at least $420 million if they survive their first season in the Premier League."
      "This has been one of the most competitive seasons in recent history at the top of the Championship," says Richard Battle, senior manager in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
      "The fixture list has been kind to neutrals, who can enjoy a winner-takes-all clash.
      "It will be only when the final whistle blows at the Riverside that we will be sure which team will gain promotion to the Premier League and earn football's most lucrative prize."
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      The financial windfall awaiting either Boro or Brighton is made up of extra money that comes from playing in the Premier League next season, along with guaranteed parachute payments over the following two seasons that arrive in the event of relegation.
      The clubs promoted from the Championship this season are guaranteed at least $58 million more than was the case last year, thanks to that new television rights deal.
      "Promotion to the Premier League provides clubs with the resources to make strategic investments on and off the pitch," Battle explains.
      "Whilst the short-term priority is usually investment in the playing squad, a strong emphasis on ongoing financial stability can leave a club well positioned for the future -- whether or not they survive that first season."
      For now, just qualifying for that first season will be enough for the diehard fans of Middlesbrough and Brighton.
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