Leeds and Southampton clash to claim lucrative Premier League return

Leeds and Southampton will slug it out for a lucrative place in the Premier League when they meet in football's single-richest match at Wembley on Sunday.

Promotion to the English top flight is worth an estimated £140 million for the Championship playoff final winner.

No other game can offer such wealth, given the vast increases in matchday, broadcast and commercial revenue available to clubs who reach the Premier League.

Leeds and Southampton clash to claim lucrative Premier League return

Financial experts Deloitte say the team promoted this weekend could eventually bank £305 million if they avoid relegation next season.

While the cash prize is a huge bonus, it is the prestige of competing with Manchester City and Arsenal, rather than second-tier minnows like Plymouth and Oxford, that will fuel two sides desperate to regain their Premier League status after a year in exile.

Relegation from the top tier can be ruinous but Leeds and Southampton handled their demotion astutely enough to move within one win of a return to the promised land.

There were regrets for Leeds, who finished in third place in the Championship, three points clear of fourth-placed Southampton, after losing their grip on an automatic promotion place that went instead to Ipswich.

Leeds recovered to show their potential in a 4-0 demolition of Norwich in the play-off semi-final second leg.

Southampton, who beat Leeds twice during the regular season, also impressed with a place in the final on the line, defeating West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in their second leg.

Both clubs feel the Premier League is a more fitting arena for their sizeable fan bases and history of sustained spells in the top tier.

But the past also holds painful memories for Leeds, who have failed in five previous attempts to win promotion via the play-offs.

The three-time English champions have not won at Wembley since the 1992 Charity Shield against Liverpool and will be making their first appearance there in 17 years.

They can take heart from the presence of boss Daniel Farke, who guided Norwich to automatic promotion to the Premier League in 2019 and 2021.

'Didn't like his decision'

"We know it's a massive game. It's a final, and for that you're always more focused, but it's also important to stay calm and find a good balance,"said Farke.

"It's a 50-50 game. But this also means it's a great chance of promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. For that we are really excited."

Promotion would be a Hollywood ending for Leeds, just weeks after movie star Will Ferrell became a shareholder in the club's 49ers Enterprises ownership group.

That star-studded consortium also includes actor Russell Crowe, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and golfers Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

In a plot twist, Farke has a contentious history with Southampton boss Russell Martin, who played under the German at Norwich before having his contract terminated by mutual consent in 2018.

Farke was complimentary about Martin on Friday, saying: "He was my captain at Norwich and always looked at things through a manager's eyes."

But Martin, who skippered Norwich in their Championship play-off final win against Middlesbrough in 2015, conceded the Carrow Road exit was a difficult time in his career.

"I really didn't like his decision at the time. I can't sit here and pretend that is the case," he said.

"We never had a personal problem. I think people really wanted us to, and they still want us to now because it is a nice story."

Despite his placatory attitude, winning promotion at Farke's expense would clearly be a sweet moment for Martin, who urged his team to seize their chance.

"It is such a privilege to play in a game of this magnitude," he said.

"They have the chance to feel something spectacular that they will remember forever."


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