ONE match, winner takes all. The price? A Premier League place… oh, and £170m.
The championship play-off final is often referred to as “the richest game in football” – and with good reason.
Where else can you pocket nearly £200m just for one game?
Even the Champions League final winner is only raking in around £100m this season.
But we’re not dealing with the richest clubs in the world backed by billionaire owners who bank on a football team as a sideline here.
Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest have both lost promotion to the Premier League. They have also suffered relegation.
They both needed parachute payments to stay afloat after otherwise crippling relegation to English football’s second division.
Fulham and Bournemouth have already booked their place in the top flight for 2022-23.
And, so rarely the case, the third and fourth placed teams in this season’s Championship will be battling to join them in the Premier League.
Huddersfield have been ahead in 46 league games – by just two points.
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But Forest scored more AND conceded fewer goals throughout the season.
Huddersfield scraped past Luton 2–1 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the play-offs, while Nottingham Forest failed on penalties to finally defeat Sheffield United.
The Terriers only played and featured in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season SIX Play-off final – most recently in the 2016–17 season when they snuck past Reading on penalties to reach the top flight for the first time in their history.
But this will feel like new territory for Forest.
The Midlands giants, who only won the European Cup in 1980, have done it NEVER played in a play-off final.
They haven’t been in the Premier League this millennium either – they last had a horror in 1998/99, a season in the top flight.
Forest even went deep as League One – he played in the third division between 2005 and 2008.
Since then they have been languishing in the championship for 14 years.
Incredibly, Nottingham Forest have not played at Wembley since their 1992 League Cup final defeat by Manchester United.
have forest NEVER played at the new Wembley.
But while Huddersfield picked up the points in the league, Forest had a better domestic cup season.
In fact, Nottingham Forest beat the Terriers in the fifth round of their impressive FA Cup run in which they beat Arsenal AND Leicester before losing to eventual champions Liverpool in the quarter-finals.
But how do they deal with the pressure?
With at least £170m to win and that all-important Premier League place, it really is anyone’s cup of tea.
No team will underestimate the importance of the game – not just for the team or the manager, but for the future of the club as a whole.
But who will come out on top?
Will it be the more recently experienced team, Huddersfield, or the young, hungry, rejuvenated Forest that turned so many heads in the FA Cup?
We’ll find out at Wembley on Sunday afternoon…