The financial gulf between where Saints have been and where they are about to arrive could scarcely be bigger.
A drop through the divisions is not only sobering for a club’s footballing ambitions, but also their bank balance.
Saints will net a basic minimum of about £40m next season from being in the Premier League – virtually funded by broadcasting income – before you even consider ticketing, commercial, sponsorship and other revenue streams.
In their two seasons in League One, the club’s broadcasting revenue was just short of £1m the first season and about £1.4m as they were promoted.
Indeed, their entire turnover in 2009/10, their first season in the third tier, was only around £14m.
To put that into context, champions Manchester City’s income from Premier League broadcast payments alone for last season was a record £60.6m.
But even bottom club Wolves earned £39m, virtually double what Saints banked from finishing in the same position just seven years earlier.
Each elite league club in 2011/12 received an equal share of £13.7m from domestic TV money, £18.7m from overseas broadcast rights, plus £755,000 for each place they finished in the final league table.
That latter figure was the sum received by bottom club Wolves while champions Manchester City earned £15.1m.
On top of that, each club receives around £570,000 for EACH time they are featured in live TV matches.
That’s at least £5.7m, but in Manchester United’s case it was £13.5m after taking part in 26 live TV games.
That explains why Tottenham finished below Arsenal in the league table but earned more – £57.3m compared to £56.2m – because they played in 23 live TV games, compared to the Gunners’ 19.
Look back at when the Premier League started in 1992/93 and the bottom club of the 22-team division, Nottingham Forest on that occasion, were some way off of what last season’s basement dwellers Wolves made.
To be precise, Wolves earned £39.1m.
Some 20 years ago Forest earned just £37,055 in prize money, and then less than £1m in TV revenues – taking into account their lump sum payment and cash for every live game shown in the first year of the contract with Sky.
Even for Saints, finishing 18th back then bagged £185,275 in prize money, plus around £1m in TV revenues, while the division’s champions, Manchester United, netted £815,210 in prize money, plus about £1.6m in TV income.
The contrast continues even from seven years ago when Saints had last figured amongst the elite.
When Saints went down in 2004/05, they received £19.8m in prize money and television cash.
Manchester United topped the rich list that season with £31.7m – £100,000 more than title winners Chelsea.
While Saints plummeted into the third division before starting their phoenix-like rise, the top 20 clubs have raked in ever bigger sums.
Blackpool, for example, banked £39.1m in their debut Premier League season of 2010/11. And, like Saints six years earlier, they too were relegated – but with almost £20m more to their name than Saints had when they dropped down.
Blackpool’s parachute payment this season was around the £12.4m mark – virtually twice as much as the two payments Saints received of around £6.6m in 2005/06 and 2006/07.
Saints might have received around £12m from Arsenal for the sale of Alex Chamberlain, but that only equated to the parachute payment West Ham and Birmingham also collected, as well as Blackpool.
However, for all that, it’s not just income that has risen, but costs too.
The recent Grant Thornton ‘Focus on Football’ report made enlightening reading, particularly in regards to how salaries as well as income have gone through the roof in the Premier League.
It says: “According to the Office of National Statistics figures, the average UK worker earns £24,076 per year, and 10.26m people in the UK subscribe to Sky, paying an average of £535 each year.
“Approximately half of these subscribers take some sport content and some Sky subscribers are also amongst the estimated 1.2m ESPN subscribers, paying another £108 each year (or £144 for non-Sky subscribers).
“Sky and ESPN are paying circa £1.7 billion over three years to the Premiership for TV rights, equating to £567m each year.
“The Premier League distributed at least £19.6m from domestic broadcast rights (£13.8m equal share plus a minimum of £5.8m facility fees) to each of the 20 Premier League Clubs in 2010- 2011.
“Additional appearance monies were paid to the clubs, depending on the number of times they featured on TV.
“And, of course, the Premier League does make parachute payments to relegated clubs and solidarity payments to the Football League for distribution to its clubs, as well as financing youth development programmes and making various charitable donations.
“So the clubs collect the TV monies, along with their other incomes from ticket sales, merchandising, sponsorship and overseas broadcasting rights and use them to defray their expenses, the costs.
“Each club has a squad of 25 first team players, earning an average basic salary of £1.2m.
“With bonuses and appearance money, this could rise to between £1.8m and £2.4m.
“In addition, the clubs have Under 21 players and the associated managerial, coaching and support staff.
“Manchester City’s wage bill in 2010- 11 was £174m, £21m more than its total income of £153m.
“In effect then, the hard-earned money of the estimated 5m Sky sports fans ends up helping to line the pockets of circa 800 players and support staff.
“Rather than using the increasing TV monies to repay debt, it seems that the clubs have preferred to pay higher wages to their players and staff.
“In 1992-93, the first year of the Premiership, the average Premiership basic annual pay was £77,000, over four times the average UK wage.
“Ten years later in 2002-03 the average player’s pay had increased by nearly 800 per cent to £611,000, but the average UK wage was only 53 per cent higher.
“By 2009-10, players’ pay had virtually doubled again, to an average £1.2m, against a 20 per cent increase for the average worker.
“The gulf between the Premier League and the rest of football has also widened significantly.
“The average Premiership wage is now five times more than the average in the Championship, and 30 times more than the average League Two wage.
“Back in 1992-93 those figures were 1.9 and 4.6 respectively.
“Why has the gap widened so much?
“Look no further than the level of TV monies in the lower leagues.”
Premier League total broadcasting payments season 2011/12
League prize money 1992/93 (First PL season)
Premier League total broadcasting payments season 1993/94 (second PL season)