Huddersfield gain EPL promotion
Jamaican Garath McCleary will not be returning to the English Premier League next season as his club, Reading FC, were beaten 4-3 in a penalty shootout by Huddersfield Town in the English League Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium yesterday.
The Terriers will play in England’s top division for the first time in 45 years after winning world football’s richest single game worth a minimum US$220 million.
After the teams ended extra time tied at 0-0, Christopher Schindler converted the winning spot kick for the team managed by Germany-born American coach David Wagner.
Huddersfield, which was the English champion each year from 1924-26, was most recently in the top flight in 1972. The northern team will be the 49th different club to play in the Premier League since the competition’s inaugural season in 1992.
Promotion is worth at least £170 million (US$220 million) because of future prize money and broadcast earnings from being in the Premier League, the wealthiest league in the world.
“We can give lots of people hope,” Huddersfield Chairman Dean Hoyle said. “Smaller clubs can keep believing; you can achieve the impossible.”
The 45-year-old Wagner, a former US international, arrived at the northern English club in 2015 from Borussia Dortmund, where he was reserve-team coach, and only just managed to keep Huddersfield in the second tier.
From that 19th-place finish, Wagner worked wonders on one of the smallest budgets in the division signing many players on loan and from Germany to challenge for the title this season. Huddersfield eventually dropped away to finish in fifth place, two spots behind Reading.
Now Wagner will be coming up against managers like Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp, who was coach at Dortmund when Wagner was at the German club. They are long-time friends.
“I am so happy because when I arrived, people said I had no experience, no experience of British football, no experience of players I always had to fight against that,” Wagner said.
“It’s proved experience is important but not everything. It’s heart and desire.”
Reading, managed by former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam, was most recently in England’s top division in the 2012-13 season.