Carvalhal chases fame and fortune for Sheffield Wednesday

Reuters News
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Posted: May 27, 2016 10:58 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho may be making headlines again but a lesser-known Portuguese manager will this weekend hope to give Sheffield Wednesday their biggest day for almost a quarter of a century by returning them to the Premier League.

Carlos Carvalhal, 50, was a surprise choice to take charge of the Yorkshire club last pre-season but in 10 months he has transformed them from a side regularly struggling in the bottom half of the Championship (second tier).

On Saturday they play Hull City at Wembley in the playoff final for a prize frequently described as the most lucrative in sport for any one-off fixture.

Latest estimates suggest that joining Burnley and Middlesbrough, the two clubs already promoted to next season's Premier League, would be worth a minimum of 170 million ($248.8 million) pounds.

"Sheffield Wednesday could see a revenue uplift of £170m if they secure promotion," George Parrett of financial analysts Deloitte told Reuters.

The company believes this could rise as high as 290 million if they survive their first season at the higher level.

With a lucrative new broadcast deal kicking in from August, even the club finishing bottom next season are guaranteed 100 million pounds, plus four years of subsequent 'parachute payments' after being relegated.

That is in addition to extra matchday revenue and sponsorships.

While Hull were in the top tier as recently as 2014-15, Wednesday have not been there since 2000.

It was 1992 when they finished third in the top division under manager Trevor Francis and they played at Wembley four times in quick succession the following year.

The former England striker's team beat their bitter crosstown rivals Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-finals, but lost both the final (after a replay) and the League Cup final to Arsenal.

Since then the famous old club, founded in 1867 and four times English champions, have twice dropped as low as the third tier.

Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri bought Wednesday in 2015 and set a target of reaching the Premier League in time to celebrate the club's 150th anniversary in 2017.

Thanks to Carvalhal, who had previously worked for clubs in Portugal and Turkey, Wednesday are only one match away.

They finished sixth in the league, two places and nine points behind Saturday's opponents despite drawing with them twice, but Carvalhal is confident.

"I never thought I would go to Wembley one day and now this is something that we have achieved," he told the BBC.

"These things are more than money. We are making history."

($1 = 0.6833 pounds)

(Reporting by Steve Tongue, editing by Ed Osmond)