No, it’s not the Super Bowl or Game 7 of the NBA Finals. I’m talking about the one…the only… English Championship Playoff Final! “What the heck is that,” you ask? Well I’ll tell you.
The Championship (that is the name of the league, not a title) is the second tier in English football (or soccer, whatever). If you finish first or second after the 46-game season, you gain automatic promotion into the Premier League, the biggest league in the world. This year, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion finished in first and second respectively. If you finish third through sixth, however, you play in the playoffs for the third and final spot going up. Lose, and you’re stuck fighting another year; win, and you’re on your way to the promise land.
This year’s final was a battle between the Premier League-experienced Reading (they have nothing to do with the railroad) and the fairy tale team, Huddersfield Town. After a back-and-forth affair at the beautiful Wembley Stadium, the game ended 0-0, so a penalty shootout would determine each team’s fate. Taking a penalty in a regular season game is stressful enough, but taking one in a final, let alone in as big of a final as this one, is unimaginably nerve racking. Walking to the penalty spot all the way from half field, these players are sweating more than O.J. putting on the glove (spoiler alert, it didn’t fit). If you make it, you could become a club legend; miss it, and you could become a club villain. In the end, Huddersfield were victorious, winning the shootout by four goals to three. Here’s the moment they won promotion:
Now, the reason why this is the most expensive game in sports… the payout.
Like I said earlier, the Premier League is the biggest (and best in my opinion) football league in the world. It has the highest viewership numbers in the world, so the sponsorship and television deals are just as massive. This year’s payout to Huddersfield, for moving up to the Premiership, is… drum roll please… is $220 million!
Can we pause and think about how much money that is for a second? $220 million. That’s A LOT of coin. That would get you the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, or all but 6 teams in Major League Soccer, have your choice. Owning a sports team not your thing? Well that prize could get you 733,333 Xbox One’s or 33,846,154 fidget spinners. I think you get it by now, but man that’s a lot of money for one team to win. However, Huddersfield Town’s owner, Dean Hoyle, and American coach, David Wagner, won’t be spending that prize money on fidget spinners; they’ll need every penny to prepare for the grueling season to come. Renovating facilities, buying new equipment, hiring new personnel and, of course, bringing new talent to the club will be on their wishlist so they can try and accomplish their new goal: staying in the Premier League.
Congratulations to Huddersfield Town; to their players, coaches, owner and fans. I can’t wait to see what the club does in this summer’s transfer window and during the whole Premier League season.
Until next time, au revoir, and remember:
“With great power comes great responsibility,” – Uncle Ben