Last night, Lincoln stunned everybody except themselves by thrashing Bristol City of the Championship to progress to the Fourth Round of the League Cup for the first time since 1967/68.
It was a worthwhile performance and result, potentially setting up a big tie in the next round. However, it is not a result that brings obvious financial gain – there is no prize money in this competition until the semi-final stage. That’s right; we earned more from our victory against Newcastle Under 21s than we did last night in terms of prize money.
However, the League Cup does give smaller clubs a chance to earn some proper cash; it’s all about the luck of the draw. Clubs are entitled to 45% of the gate receipts from any game they participate in, making the draw even more important. In the FA Cup, if you win, you get a set amount, and the add-ons boost your earnings, but the difference between a good away draw and a bad away draw tomorrow night could be as much as £900,000.
I have done some rudimentary maths, and believe me, this is not a hard and fast guide, but I was interested to know exactly which draw would be best for us if we are to go away. I’ve taken every team left in the competition, including the 18 that play tonight (meaning, if you’re reading this on Thursday, it could be a little out of date). I then found their average season ticket prices and divided them by the number of matches they play in the league to give an overall average ticket price. Now, for this, I had to play a little hard and fast with the facts – some clubs (such as those outside the top flight) I couldn’t find an average ST price for, only a top and bottom amount, which I used to work out an average. For Derby County, who are likely out by 10pm tonight, I used Charlton’s average based on them being a similar size.
From here, I found the club’s average attendance in the League Cup either this year (outside the Prem) or last year (Prem). For Villa, Southampton and Palace, I had to go further back and find their average attendance for the last time they had League Cup matches at home. That allowed me to work out an expected matchday revenue. Still with me?
Then, I worked out what 45% of that would be, which would be our cut. Then, in the interests of fairness, I took 75% of that figure as the amount we might get, factoring in that the average ST price might be higher than the average ticket price for a typical league cup game. It means I’m likely to have slightly underestimated the expected revenue, but it is hopefully a good guide. The key is to not read this and think ‘Leeds away would get us between £273,000 and £297,000, but to just know that Southampton away could earn us significantly less.
So, who would be the best, and worst draws we could get?
There are three clubs that, by my maths, could earn us more than £500,000 if we were to draw them away. They would be Arsenal, by far the most expensive club to watch in the Premier League, Man Utd and Spurs. Arsenal’s League Cup average attendance was 58,447 last season, and with an estimated average ticket price of £48.76, the upper limit on earnings could be as much as £1.2m, although adjusting that figure down would still give us £961,895, based on these numbers. Man Utd, with relatively cheap tickets of £28 each, could net us £685,000 (I’m rounding now), whilst Spurs is estimated at around £613,000. Liverpool, at £476,000, would be fourth, and the fifth-best club we could draw, should they advance, would be Chelsea on £399,000.
That’s the top end of the scale, but at the bottom, we could get a real stinker. Ties against Gillingham (£13,000), MK Dons (£13,700) and Derby County (£31,700) would not be attractive. Oddly, according to my numbers, Charlton and Blackburn would be worth roughly the same amount (£37,100), whilst Sheff Weds (£96,200) would be a better draw than Brighton, Fulham, Palace, Bournemouth, Forest and Burnley.
Of course, these numbers are pure conjecture, and they don’t take into account the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, whereby we’d rather go to Forest than Hillsborough, nor any possible TV money, but hopefully, they make interesting reading. The full table is below.
|ST Prices (£)||Per Game (£)||Av LC Gate||Overall Revenue (£)||45% (£)||Adjusted (£)|