The end-of-season mini-tournament for a place in the Premier League is potentially worth £170 million to the team that emerges victorious
The Championship play-offs are arguably the most exciting games in the English football season.
No match is more valuable than the division's play-off final at Wembley, with promotion, it was estimated last year, worth around £170 million to teams not already receiving parachute payments after relegation from the Premier League.
That applies to both Huddersfield Town and Reading, who will meet in the final at Wembley for a place in the top flight. For one of them, it will be a game that changes the course of their club's history.
Reading sealed their place in the final by beating Fulham 1-0 at home following a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Craven Cottage. They were joined a day later by Huddersfield, who knocked out Sheffield Wednesday on penalties after both legs ended in draws.
|17:30||Fulham||1-1||Reading||Saturday, May 13|
|12:00||Huddersfield||0-0||Sheffield Wednesday||Sunday, May 14|
|19:45||Reading||1-0||Fulham||Tuesday, May 16|
|19:45||Sheffield Wednesday||1-1 (3-4 p)||Huddersfield||Wednesday, May 17|
The Championship play-off final between Reading and Huddersfield will be played at Wembley on Monday, May 29 - a bank holiday in the UK. Kick-off time is 15:00 BST.
|Game||Reading vs Huddersfield Town|
|Date||Monday, May 29, 2017|
|Time||15:00 BST, 10:00 ET|
The League Two final between Exeter City and Blackpool will be played a day earlier on Sunday, May 28, with the League One final between Bradford City and Millwall moved forward a weekend (Saturday, May 20) to accommodate the FA Cup final on Saturday, May 27.
The Championship final returned to Wembley in 2007 after six were hosted at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff while the London venue was rebuilt. Between 1987 and 1989 it had been a two-legged affair, with each team hosting a match at their home ground (though in 1987, a third leg on neutral turf was required to separate Charlton Athletic and Leeds United), before the move to the old Wembley and a single-match format in 1990.
All of the Championship play-off matches — and, indeed, all of the Football League play-off matches altogether — will be broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK.
In the US, beIN Sports have the rights to Championship matches and will broadcast the final on one of their subscription channels. The match will also be available on FuboTV, an online subscription service which includes beIN Sports.
Both Reading and Huddersfield have kicked off their ticket sales for the final, with each club receiving just over 38,000 seats. You can find all the information related to Reading's sales at this link, and the same for Huddersfield at this link.
Both clubs will put tickets on sale in stages, with season-ticket holders receiving priority. Whereas Huddersfield will put leftover tickets on general sale, however, you will need to be at least a club member to buy from Reading.
Prices are the same for both clubs and range from £98 to £36 for adults, with the majority of supporters looking at £52 per adult or more due to the limited availability - and unpopular location at the back of the top tier - of the cheapest tickets.
|4||Sheff Wed (PO)||46||24||9||13||60||45||15||81|
(P) = promotion confirmed
(PO) = play-offs confirmed
Huddersfield Town were the first team - aside from the promoted sides - to guarantee their place in the Championship play-offs and were joined by Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.
Reading faced Fulham as the top seed and after being denied a victory at Craven Cottage when Tom Cairney cancelled out Jordan Obita's goal, Jaap Stam's team finished the job by winning 1-0 thanks to a Yann Kermorgant penalty at the Madejski Stadium.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, Huddersfield just about stayed alive thanks to a late Tom Lees own goal after Steven Fletcher had given Sheffield Wednesday a second-leg lead at Hillsborough. David Wagner's men then went on to triumph on penalties thanks to two saves from Liverpool loanee Danny Ward.
Last season, Hull City secured promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the final courtesy of Mohamed Diame's 72nd-minute wonder goal.
Wednesday return to the play-offs this season looking to go one better, while Brighton - the team they defeated in the semi-finals - have already sealed promotion and are in position to be crowned champions.
Derby County, who Hull beat in the semi-finals, have had a disappointing season and currently sit 10th in the table.
A place in the play-offs marks a significant improvement in fortunes for Huddersfield, who finished 19th in the Championship last season. The two other teams to make it - Fulham, and Reading - were also bottom-half clubs in 2015-16.