Football

Terriers dreaming of $350m EPL ticket

Huddersfield fancy their chances in play-off with Reading for EPL promotion

CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF FINAL
HUDDERSFIELD READING

It's a match with £200 million (S$350m) at stake and Huddersfield manager David Wagner believes his unfancied side have what it takes to nail it.

Widely tipped as relegation candidates at the start of the season, the Terriers have defied all expectations to reach a Wembley showdown that promises untold riches for the winners.

At least £100 million in media rights is on the plate, plus hugely increased revenue streams and "parachute payments" to clubs relegated from the English Premier League, leading financial experts to estimate the value of promotion at around £200 million.

Huddersfield finished fifth in the second-tier League Championship, two places and four points below Reading.

For the Terriers to be on the brink of cashing in is incredible to Wagner, who is close friends with Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp after working under him at Borussia Dortmund.

Wagner, a German who played for the United States as his father is American, believes his side can achieve a miracle just as Leicester City did.

"We are still Huddersfield Town, even if we are in the final," said the 45-year-old, whose team defeated Sheffield Wednesday on penalties in the play-off semi-finals.

"I have the feeling nearly everybody, not only in this town, maybe in England, even in Europe, hopes that this fairy tale comes to a happy end.

"After what happened with Leicester last season, this is now a second fairy tale in a row in English football and we are a part of it, we are aware of it and of course now we'd like to get it over the line.

"Leicester have shown it is possible. The prize of the Premier League makes it even bigger.

"We are happy and excited to be in this game and we will be ready for sure."

Like Huddersfield, Reading are unexpected finalists and the catalyst for their success has been the appointment of boss Jaap Stam.

Stam insists he will remain in charge next season, regardless of whether he leads Reading back to the EPL for the first time since 2013.

Stam, a treble winner as a Manchester United defender, has been linked with several bigger clubs and admits his ambitions may one day lie away from the Madejski Stadium.

But the Dutchman, whose side beat Fulham in the play-off semi-finals, said: "We need to prepare for both scenarios, after the game we can think about what it means for the club.

"The result won't have an impact on my future here. I enjoy working here."

Together with the club's new Chinese owners Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li, Stam has revitalised Reading in his first season in charge.

But even he didn't expect to compete for promotion so soon.

Said Stam: "Everyone wants to play at the highest level. It's great for the money to get to the EPL.

"I'm pleasantly surprised at how we've done this season. There was a lot more in the players than I first thought.

"But there is still a long way to go and we need to focus. Finals are there to be won and we need to give it our best shot."
 - WIRE SERVICES