Reading, Southampton and West Ham are back in the big time. All three gained precious promotion from the Championship last season and are now busy preparing for life in the Premier League.
The implications of their respective successes last season are enormous.
The Premier League is the world's richest club competition. And being one of 20 teams with a hand in the cash register brings with it some seriously lucrative benefits.
There are potential downsides too, however. Making a team competitive is expensive, and there's always the risk a promoted club could drop straight back down the next season—loaded with inflated costs and wages.
Here's what it really means to be promoted to the Premier League these days...
Reading, Southampton and West Ham are all set to take home an estimated £90 million in additional earnings from their promotion to the Premier League.
That figure will almost certainly increase in seasons to come, after the Premier League signed a £3 billion TV deal to come into effect for the 2013-14 season (Guardian).
Here's Adam Bull, of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, as per an interview with The Sun:
The prize for going up will be about the same as last year, £90m. But if overseas TV rights continue to increase, the reward for promotion will become even greater in the future.
What if you get promoted, spend a truckload of money on new players and their salaries, and then go straight back down the next season?
To avoid a potentially devastating financial implosion, the Premier League guarantee "parachute payments" to soften the blow.
These amount to a potential total of £48 million—£16 million for the first two seasons you spend out of the top flight and £8 million each for the two seasons thereafter.
Put simply, all is not lost. Play smart and a relegated club should start the next season with a very good chance of going straight back up.
Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves went down last season. All three will fancy themselves to return for the 2013-14 Premier League campaign.
According to ESPNsoccernet, the average attendance at Premier League grounds last season was 34,601.
In the Championship, that number drops down to 18,824, which makes the rather obvious point that crowds come out in bigger numbers to watch bigger teams and bigger names.
Some of that is down to smaller stadiums in the Championship, obviously, but when we compare the average gates of the promoted clubs, it's clear they had a bigger pull on reaching the Premier League.
|Club||Championship 2010-11||Premier League 2011-12|
|Queens Park Rangers||15,635||17,295|
Two seasons ago, it would have been a laughable thought that Park Ji-Sung might leave Manchester United to join Queens Park Rangers.
But QPR have now got themselves back in the Premier League and managed to stay there for a season. With that—along with the cash their owners have to spend—comes far greater appeal to potential new signings.
Playing in the Premier League is a big draw.
It's fairly unlikely that a team will come up from the Championship and break straight into the top five or six positions—thus putting themselves in contention for European qualification.
But there is another way.
Fulham qualified for the Europa League last season simply by virtue of their behavior on the field.
Each season UEFA offers up additional spots in the tournament for the three countries who lead the UEFA Respect Fair Play Rankings.
If one of those happens to be England, and you happen to be the team with the best fair play ranking in the Premier League (or the best not already qualified through another route), you're going to Europe.
Even if you get relegated.
This from the official Premier League website:
The Barclays Premier League is now the world’s league. It has become a global phenomenon, inspiring passion and emotion from Los Angeles and Lagos to Macau and Melbourne.
To be part of the Premier League these days is to have a stake in a rampantly expanding brand, with ever-increasing reach through innumerable media channels all over the world.
West Ham, Reading and Southampton will be looking to capitalize on their return to top-flight football with aggressive marketing strategies designed to increased their fanbase—and with it their earning potential.
Reading lost just 11 of their 46 games in the Championship last season. Their goal difference was +28 and fans were treated to a season dominated by success.
That will all change in the Premier League.
The onus will now be on survival, rather than glory, and Reading fans will have to adapt to a very different mentality.
Trips to face the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City will come with an almost inevitable sense that defeat lies ahead. And they'll be times when a scrappy 0-0 draw counts as a glorious victory.
Expectations will have to shift quickly.
When Norwich returned to the Premier League for the 2011-12 season, the local tourism board stressed the positive impact it would have on the economy in the area.
Said Keith Brown, chief executive of East of England Tourism (as per BBC):
It will make a difference for the city's hoteliers, attractions, restaurants, bars, etc., because the people that attend these events are not just the fans but the sponsors behind these football teams.
Of course, there will also be many more international visitors because there is a huge following of the premier teams around the world.
We will be working on plans on how they can extract the maximum value from this fantastic opportunity that we've all been given.
The city of Southampton will be hoping their Premier League status brings a boost in tourism and more traffic to attractions like the SeaCity Museum, pictured above.