Wag­ner eyes fairy­tale pro­mo­tion for Hud­der­s­field

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LONDON: David Wag­ner in­sists Hud­der­s­field are ready to hit the Pre­mier League jack­pot as his un­fash­ion­able club face Read­ing in a £200 mil­lion (RM1 bil­lion) shoot-out in Mon­day’s Cham­pi­onship play-off fi­nal.

Wag­ner is aim­ing to take his team into the English top-flight for the first time in 45 years and the Hud­der­s­field boss is well aware how out of place the Ter­ri­ers would look among the Pre­mier League aris­toc­racy.

Hud­der­s­field have never played in the Pre­mier League and haven’t been a force in English foot­ball since the 1920s, when they won the ti­tle three times un­der leg­endary boss Her­bert Chap­man.

Widely tipped as rel­e­ga­tion can­di­dates at the start of the sea­son, Hud­der­s­field have de­fied all ex­pec­ta­tions to reach a Wem­b­ley show­down that prom­ises un­told riches for the win­ner.

At least £100 mil­lion in me­dia rights is at stake, plus hugely in­creased rev­enue streams and ‘parachute pay­ments’ to clubs rel­e­gated from the Pre­mier League, lead­ing fi­nan­cial ex­perts to es­ti­mate the value of pro­mo­tion at around £200 mil­lion.

For Hud­der­s­field to be on the brink of cash­ing in is in­cred­i­ble to Wag­ner, who is close friends with Liver­pool boss Jur­gen Klopp after work­ing un­der him at Borus­sia Dort­mund.

Le­ices­ter pulled off one of the big­gest sport­ing up­sets last sea­son by win­ning the Pre­mier League ti­tle and Wag­ner be­lieves tak­ing Hud­der­s­field into the top tier would an equally mirac­u­lous achieve­ment.

“We are still Hud­der­s­field Town, even if we are in the fi­nal,” said Wag­ner, whose team de­feated Sh­effield Wed­nes­day on penal­ties in the play-off semi-fi­nals.

“I have the feel­ing nearly every­body, not only in this town, maybe in Eng­land, even in Europe, hopes that this fairy tale comes to a happy end.

“After what hap­pened with Le­ices­ter last sea­son, this is now a sec­ond fairy tale in a row in English foot­ball and we are a part of it, we are aware of it and of course now we’d like to get it over the line.

“Le­ices­ter have shown it is pos­si­ble. The prize of the Pre­mier League makes it even big­ger.

“We are happy and ex­cited to be in this game and we will be ready for sure.”

Like Hud­der­s­field, Read­ing are un­ex­pected fi­nal­ists and the cat­a­lyst for their suc­cess has been the ap­point­ment of boss Jaap Stam.

Stam in­sists he will re­main in charge next sea­son, re­gard­less of whether or not he leads Read­ing back to the Pre­mier League for the first time since 2013.

Stam, a tre­ble win­ner as a Manch­ester United de­fender, has been linked with sev­eral big­ger clubs and ad­mits his am­bi­tions may one day lie away from the Made­jski Sta­dium.

But the Dutch­man, whose side beat Ful­ham in the play-off semi­fi­nals, said: “We need to pre­pare for both sce­nar­ios, after the game we can think about what it means for the club.

“The re­sult won’t have an im­pact on my fu­ture here. I en­joy work­ing here.

“I want to go to the top, I played at the top as a player and I want to as a man­ager. But hope­fully I can do that at Read­ing.”

To­gether with the club’s new Chi­nese own­ers Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li, Stam has re­vi­talised Read­ing in his first sea­son in charge.

But even he didn’t ex­pect to com­pete for pro­mo­tion so soon.

Read­ing fin­ished third in the ta­ble, two places and four points above Hud­der­s­field, and Stam said: “Ev­ery­one wants to play at the high­est level. It’s great for the money to get to the Pre­mier League.

“I’m pleas­antly sur­prised at how we’ve done this sea­son. There was a lot more in the play­ers than I first thought.

“But there is still a long way to go and we need to fo­cus. Fi­nals are there to be won and we need to give it our best shot.” AFP

David Wag­ner

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.