West Ham and Blackpool will battle for richest prize in football

15 May 2012 02:16
Statistically clubs relegated from the Premier League will often find it difficult to return to the top flight at the first time of asking.

Some clubs such as Portsmouth and Coventry struggle to return to the top flight and drop down into League One, although in some cases this can be beneficial.

Back-to-back promotions for both Norwich and Southampton highlight the positives of a slower and more developed return to the Premier League.

There will however be no doubt that on Saturday when West Ham meet Blackpool at Wembley, that both sides will be determined to make immediate returns.

The Championship Play-off final is often dubbed 'the richest game in football'.

With the huge financial incentive of playing in the Premier League, it is no wonder the game receives enormous coverage each year.

A 5-0 aggregate win over Cardiff put the Hammers into the final, despite having spent the majority of the season competing for the top two.

Blackpool picked up a 3-2 aggregate victory over another of the recently relegated sides, Birmingham City.

Ian Holloway's side were victors in the same fixture two years ago, picking up a 3-2 win over Cardiff and elevating the Tangerines into the top division.

Relegation could have hampered the progress of Holloway's team, but instead they aim to repeat their success again on Saturday.

Blackpool are 2.38 underdogs with Paddy Power so Sam Allardyce and his West Ham team will walk into the final as favourites.

Seven of the last eight 3rd vs 6th semi-final winners have ended up winning promotion.

A 1.62 favourite with Skybet and at 2.1 with Paddy Power, West Ham have beaten Blackpool 4-0 and 4-1 already this season, the latter coming despite a red card to Robert Green and having to play Henri Lansbury in goal.

In one-off games such as this, anything can happen and ultimately the game will be decided by the team that can handle the pressure on the day.

A place in next year's Premier League awaits the winner!

Blackpool v West Ham - match preview

Blackpool - West Ham play-off history

Head-to-head records

Source: DSG