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May 27, 2013

Palace-Watford ready for '£120m match'

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has labelled Monday's Championship play-off final against Watford as the "biggest game in the world".

The two Premier League wannabes will square-off in a match that is expected to generate in the region of £120 million for the winning club, and is often referred to as the richest game in football.

According to accountancy firm Deloitte, the winners at Wembley will see a total revenue increase of £60 million next year while, with parachute payments also included, they would pick up £120 million even if they fall straight back into the Championship.

With the financial rewards at stake, combined with the status of playing in one of the world's greatest leagues, the final is often seen as a life-or-death situation for many clubs.

"It is absolutely the biggest game in the world. It's the size of the prize," Holloway told the Daily Star. "The last time I fought for this it was £90 million, now it's more.

"That's why people are buying Championship clubs and trying to do it. They're throwing money at it, they want success. Look at Cardiff. They've had seven goes, so well done to them this year. But if they hadn't made it, how much would they have owed?"

And Palace chairman Steve Parish could not agree more with his manager.

"There is a crazy amount riding on the game," Parish told the Star. "The gulf between the teams that have been in the Premier recently and those that haven't will just be huge.

"You are almost playing for the right to be in a league when the music stops and the money comes in."

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola is also well aware of the importance of the match, however, he feels it is vital that his players do not become overawed by the situation and stick to their usual game.

"It'll be an unbelievable day," he told the club's official website. "There will be 34,000 Watford fans. I'm sure it will be very exciting for the players to see so many supporters, and the whole atmosphere will be thrilling, it'll be great.

"All we'll have to do is make sure we are not over the top - we have to play our football. It will be important to have that same attitude because if we keep it that way our qualities will come through, because we have quality in the team.

"We have to make sure we have the perfect balance. I wouldn't expect anything more or anything less. We will have to do the things we have been able to do all year. I'm not asking them to do anything special and they know that.

"It won't be easy for us for sure, because Crystal Palace are a very good side. If we want to win, we have to beat them, because they won't give anything away."

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