TOWN have an £8m prize in their sights as they prepare for the play-offs against Millwall.
Securing a place in the play-off final at Wembley could translate to an extra £500,000 in revenue for the Terriers.
But the big prize of promotion to the Championship would mean more than silverware for the trophy cabinet – it would open the door to generating an estimated £8m for the club’s coffers.
Town commercial director Sean Jarvis said the play-offs would bring a relatively small financial gain to the club – in the form of the sale of merchandise and its share of the proceeds of ticket sales and TV money from the play-offs and the Wembley final.
“A Wembley appearance could generate £250,000 to £500,000 in revenue for the club,” said Mr Jarvis. “But if you are promoted, the potential income is far higher.”
Playing in the Championship would guarantee significant television money. Under its agreement with the Football League, Sky TV would screen two Town home matches – unlike in League I where there is no guarantee of matches being televised.
In addition, Town could realistically expect to boost season ticket sales from about 8,500 at present to about 11,000 or 12,000 in the Championship.
Attendances would also be increased by the prospect of appetising “derby” matches against the likes of Sheffield United, Hull City, Barnsley, Doncaster and Scunthorpe.
The Galpharm Stadium would also expect to see an increase in attendances from away supporters – from an average of about 650 in League I to about 2,500 in the Championship.
Playing host to more away supporters could contribute an extra £500,000 to the club’s finances.
Mr Jarvis said Championship football would also prove a more attractive proposition to potential sponsors and corporate clients.
He said: “We have done remarkably well to sell all 42 hospitality boxes this season – which is a ‘first’ since moving to the Galpharm.
“In the Championship, interest in corporate hospitality and advertising will be heightened further.
“We have already done some deals with people who have been supporting us for a while and a number of other businesses will come on board and use the club as a vehicle to promote their brands, services or companies.
“Revenue from hospitality would probably double from where it stands this year.”
Town’s bank balance would also benefit from going into the FA Cup third round draw – with the possibility of meeting Premiership opposition straight away.
Mr Jarvis said promotion to the Championship could affect the players’ wage bill, but insisted: “We are looking to ensure we don’t stretch our resources.
“We will look to strengthen the squad this summer in any case, but the level of investment will be decided on by which division we are in.”
Town chairman Dean Hoyle said he was looking forward to the play-offs and wasn’t letting the financial implications spoil his enjoyment.
He said: “I think what will be, will be regarding which division we will be in next season. Millwall, Swindon and Charlton all want to go up and no-one has an automatic right to promotion.”
Mr Hoyle said extra TV money for Championship football would probably go straight into players’ salaries as the club seeks to strengthen its squad.
But he agreed that playing in a higher division would increase away fan attendances at the Galpharm and encourage more corporate support.
“We have galvanised support in the town,” he said. “Our corporate supporters like what we are doing at the club and it would be nice to reward them with Championship football.”
Mr Jarvis said the rewards of promotion extended well beyond the club – to other businesses in the town and to the local economy.
“Ipswich Town carried out a study which showed that being promoted a division brought an extra £1m to the local community in terms of increased business for pubs, shops and hotels,” he said.
“There are also unquantifiable benefits to success on the pitch in terms of a ‘feel-good factor’ with increased productivity in the workplace on Monday following a win on Saturday.
“We have seen an increased interest in the club’s fortunes this season and the vibes around the town are good.
“We have business sponsorship deals in the pipeline and all this has come about on the back of a positive season.”
Of course, Town can only hit the jackpot by beating Millwall and winning at Wembley.
Said Mr Jarvis: “It is a tough ask against Millwall, who are a strong side. But we can play attractive football and upset any team on our day”.