Winner of English soccer playoff to net $181 million

By Mike Singer |

Crystal Palace will face off against Watford in London's Wembley Stadium on Monday with a potentially massive payday hanging in the balance.

While the winner will be promoted to the 20-team, top-flight Premier League, there's a more lucrative prize than that.

The winning club will net $181 million dollars, or around 120 million English pounds, which the sports business group Deloitte says is “the biggest financial prize in world football.

The massive payout is due in large part to the Premier League's new TV deal, which kicks in next season and lasts for the next three. The new broadcasting rights are worth more than 3 billion pounds.

Even if the winner of Monday's match were among the three teams relegated after next season back to the 24-team Championship league, the financial benefits would still be immense. Teams receive a minimum of 60 million pounds over the next four seasons even with a one-year stay in the Premier League.

As for the game, Watford manager Gianfranco Zola said he considers his Hornets to be the underdogs though they finished third, two spots ahead of Crystal Palace. “I don't think they are the underdogs,” he said of Crystal Palace, which beat Brighton 2-0 in the second leg of its playoff semifinal.

Watford defeated Leicester 3-2 on aggregate to secure its place at Wembley for the match.

“I would say we are more the underdogs because, at the beginning of the season, no one was expecting us to be there,” Zola said. Watford has been to the Premier League twice, once in 1999-2000 and once in 2006-07. Both came from winning the playoffs.

Crystal Palace, by contrast, has made it to the Premier League three times. The most recent was in 2004-05.

Watford (85) and Crystal Palace (73) were the two highest scoring clubs in the Championship League this past season.

For more Premier League news, follow Mike Singer on Twitter @RealMikeSinger.

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