Promotion could earn Sheffield Wednesday up to £140 million, an expert in football finances has predicted.
Extra TV money, commercial deals and ticket revenue would add up to a bumper pay day should the Owls reach the Premier League via the play-offs.
Rob Wilson, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University who specialises in sports finances, estimates their return to the top tier could also generate a £4-5m boost to the city’s economy.
“We estimate promotion to be worth at least £120m. This is largely made up of TV money (c.£100m) and some additional commercial deals,” he says.
“You’d expect Hillsborough to be full from the start of the season too so it could get up towards £140m.”
Doing it the hard way via the play-offs also comes with a richer reward than automatic promotion, says Rob, with the extra gate revenue and additional TV money worth around £2m.
The value to the city as a whole is harder to predict. Although Premier League status brings with it ‘global appeal’ and attracts new students, he says, fans may also end up spending more of their money on football rather than shopping or cinema trips, for example.
“I normally plump for £4-5m to the city economy. It's a very tenuous calculation though. The main benefit of promotion will always go to the football club,” he says.
With Sheffield United already guaranteed promotion to the Championship, Rob says both clubs going up would generate a huge ‘feel good factor’ within the city and could see them ploughing more money into community work.
The Owls’ success has not come cheap, with owner Dejphon Chansiri investing heavily in shirt sponsorship and stadium infrastructure, but Rob says they have no reason yet to fear being penalised under Financial Fair Play rules.
“Promotion would help but another season in the Championship wouldn’t restrict them under FFP yet,” he says.
“The bigger challenge is the clubs coming down from the EPL with ridiculous parachute payments. This distorts the competitive balance it will make promotion even more challenging in 2017-18.”
Should Wednesday secure promotion, Rob says they must be prepared to spend their new riches if they hope to maintain top-flight status.
“My advice to a team being promoted would be to invest at least 50 per cent of the earnings in the summer and then evaluate the position in January – top-up the spend if required,” he says.
“The best buys are often the lucky ones – cheaper players from abroad. The Michu type player that is great for a season.
“All too often teams overpay for so called EPL talent that doesn’t work out. I’d also advise hard contract negotiations – performance related contracts with lower weekly wages but significant survival bonuses.”