LONDON: The battle for Premier League survival is the main event of Sunday's final day of the season as Everton, Leicester and Leeds face a nerve-wracking scrap to avoid relegation.
The two clubs who join already-relegated Southampton in the second tier will be pushed to the financial precipice, with sports business experts Deloitte estimating that a season of Premier League football is worth up to £170 million ($210 million).
Everton can ill-afford that hit with the Toffees already seeking external investment just to be able to complete the club's new stadium.
They are the one side in full control of their own fate as victory at home to Bournemouth will extend their stay in the top flight to 70 years.
However, Sean Dyche's men have won just once in 10 games and will be without talismanic striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to offer Leicester and Leeds hope.
“We want the players to focus on the game,“ said Dyche on Friday. “It’s not as easy as it sounds but that’s the idea: focus on what’s going on the pitch and don’t worry about all the noise.
“Don’t worry about all the rumours, don’t worry about anything that’s going on off the pitch.”
Leicester's fall from grace
If fourth bottom Everton fail to win, third bottom Leicester can survive by beating West Ham at home thanks to their superior goal difference.
Seven years ago, the Foxes were celebrating the most unlikely of title triumphs.
That kicked off a glorious era as they finished fifth in back-to-back seasons in 2019/20 and 2020/21 and won the FA Cup for the first time just two years ago under Brendan Rodgers.
Mayny believed a squad boasting the talents of James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes was too good to go down.
But the fairytale has turned into a nightmare this season as Rodgers bemoaned a lack of investment to refresh the squad before he was sacked in April.
Dean Smith has been unable to mastermind a turnaround in fortunes with just one win in his seven games in charge.
“We have to win the game and not look at the Everton result until after the game,“ said Smith. “We have to do our job and see where it takes us.”
Second bottom Leeds need a miracle to avoid the end of their three-season stay in the top-flight.
Victory over Tottenham at Elland Road will only be enough for Leeds boss Sam Allardyce to pull off another great escape if Everton lose and Leicester fail to win.
Should Everton manage even a draw, Leeds will need to beat Tottenham by three goals to surpass them on goal difference.
“I just hope that we’re talking on a very positive nature on Monday morning and I have a hangover!” Allardyce said on the possibility he could remain at the club beyond his caretaker role till the end of the season.
Tottenham's result could have a bearing on the only other issue yet to be resolved - qualification for next season's Europa Conference League.
Aston Villa are in pole position and will secure a return to Europe for the first time in 13 years with victory over Brighton.
Tottenham can sneak into seventh place should they better Villa's result.
But if neither side win then Brentford could qualify for Europe for the first time in their history with a shock win over champions Manchester City in west London.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle are already assured of joining City in next season's Champions League.
Liverpool and Brighton will be in the Europa League. - AFP