The $240 Million Game: Brentford FC Secures EPL Spot Over Swansea

Brentford FC’s decades-long drought is finally over.

The Bees beat Swansea City AFC 2-0 on Saturday to secure the richest prize in all of team sports—a promotion to the English Premier League, where it will share in the EPL’s billion-dollar media deals for at least the next three years.

That will be worth at least $240 million in added revenue, according to Deloitte, and that’s just in the worst-case scenario. Should the Bees extend their first-ever Premier League stint beyond next season, Brentford can add hundreds of millions more to its coffers.

That’s why Saturday’s contest, an annual one-game playoff for the highly coveted final Premier League slot, is often called the ‘World’s Richest Game.’ Brentford, which is owned by former professional gambler Matthew Benham, lost in this game last year and has never played in the current version of the EPL.

“Promotion to the Premier League remains the most valuable prize in world football,” said Tim Bridge, director of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. “Promoted clubs continue to benefit from a major financial windfall, which enables them to make critical strategic investments, both on-pitch and off it.”

Every year the three worst performing teams in the Premier League are relegated to England’s second division, leaving room for three clubs to move up and replace them. The top two finishers in the second division earn automatic entry, with the third awarded to the winner of four-team playoff.

That’s what Swansea—a Welsh club controlled by D.C. United owners Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan—and Brentford played for Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London. Following the loss, Swansea will return to the second division and try again next year.

How much Brentford ultimately benefits will depend on one thing: how long it manages to stay in the Premier League. About 40% of promoted clubs are relegated after one season—this year two of the three newcomers are moving back down—and while the Premier League softens that blow financially, the longer a team stays up, the more money it will make.

If the Bees are relegated after just one season, the team will see about $134 million (95 million pounds) broadcast money next year, according to Deloitte’s numbers, then make another $106 million (75 million pounds) in parachute payments, the disbursement the league gives to recently relegated teams. That $240 million jumps to $400 million (280 million pounds) if the club is able to stay up for a second year, and it obviously grows significantly from there. Deloitte’s numbers assume games next season can be played at pre-pandemic capacities, and that the next cycle of broadcast rights, which starts in 2022-23, deliver at least the same value as the current ones.

The stakes were slightly higher for Swansea Saturday because of those parachute payments, a controversial parting gift that gives relegated teams a short-term financial advantage to return to the top flight (the two other teams to secure promotion for next year, Watford and Norwich City, were both in the Premier League in 2019-20). Swansea was relegated after the 2017-18 season and received its third and final parachute payment this year. The Swans will be back on the same financial footing as the rest of the second division clubs next season fighting for promotion.

The game has massive ramifications for Brentford’s partners as well. That list includes the team’s apparel partner Umbro, jersey sponsor Utilita, the University of West London, Dormeo and Asahi.

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