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May, 14, 2013

Stoke targeting top-half finish

Peter Coates has made it clear there can be no let-up from Stoke City despite being assured of a sixth successive season in the Premier League.

• Blog: Stoke 150 not out

The Stoke chairman has revealed there will be £5 million of Premier League prize money at stake for the club on the final day of the season at Southampton, which could make a significant difference to the club's transfer budget this summer.

Manager Tony Pulis spent Sunday evening in Spain watching a La Liga fixture between Real Sociedad and Granada, with Sociedad strikers Carlos Vela and Imanol Agirretxe believed to be under scrutiny as he looks to improve his goal scoring options next season.

With Michael Owen announcing his retirement and both Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones likely to be sold in the summer, Pulis is in the market for a striker and Coates, who is looking to scale back his investment, which stands at almost £90 million since taking charge of the club, has stressed the importance of winning at St Mary's in the final day of the season.

Stoke still have a chance to finish in the top ten in the Premier League for the first time in five seasons, but could drop as low as 17th depending on how results go and that adds up to a difference of around £5 million in prize money.

"The money available nowadays is enormous and that makes this such an important game for the football club. Every game is important, but this one shows just how important financially, and professional players should always turn up with the right attitude," said Coates.

In the previous two seasons Coates has been left counting the financial costs of final day defeat against Wigan and draw with Bolton Wanderers - both results generating a difference of four places in prize money.

"I can certainly remember the Wigan game. That cost us a huge amount of money, about £2.5 million I think. I certainly hope we don't do the same on Sunday," he said.

Victory at Southampton will take Stoke to a 10th place finish if West Ham lose at home to Reading. A draw would mean Stoke would have to win by more than one goal.

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