EPL bounty awaits Boro or Brighton

LONDON • Brighton manager Chris Hughton believes that his side have nothing to fear as they prepare to face Middlesbrough in a Premier League promotion shoot-out worth at least £170 million (S$335 million) today.

Brighton are bidding to return to the top flight after a 33-year absence, and the rewards are bigger than ever, due to the lucrative new Premier League television deals that start next season.

Financial analysts at Deloitte's Sports Business Group report that teams promoted from the Championship this term stand to make £170 million, with a potential £290 million on offer if they survive their first season in the league.

The odds are against Brighton, however, as Hughton's third- placed team trail second-placed Middlesbrough on goal difference heading into the final weekend.

That means Middlesbrough need only to draw at home to secure promotion.

However, Brighton are on a 13-match unbeaten run, and Hughton, who led Newcastle to promotion from the second tier in 2010, is convinced his team have enough firepower to win.

He said: "There's no doubt Middlesbrough will be the favourites, but we've given ourselves every chance. It is a big task but not one that is impossible."

If they succeed, it will be their first time among the elite since the 1982-83 season - a campaign that ended with relegation and defeat by Manchester United in the club's only FA Cup final appearance.

Middlesbrough, however, are looking to end a turbulent 12 months on a high.

This time last year, Aitor Karanka's side were heading into the promotion play-offs, one that ended in the frustration of a Wembley final defeat by Norwich City.

When Middlesbrough endured a miserable run in March, it briefly seemed the Spaniard would quit after showdown talks with his under-performing squad. However, he has since rebuilt his relationship with his players.

"I should be really positive and I am really comfortable with this team," Karanka said. "They have shown I can trust them."

Saturday's winning team will join Burnley as the second team automatically promoted to the Premier League, while the losing side has to regroup for a play-off semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday.

Hull City and Derby County will meet in the other last-four tie.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIDDLESBROUGH V BRIGHTON
Singtel TV Ch109, 7.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'EPL bounty awaits Boro or Brighton'. Print Edition | Subscribe