SAINTS enjoyed a £24m windfall in season 2003/04 - almost the same amount as they did when they reached the FA Cup Final last year.

While on-field performances left many supporters deflated following high pre-season expectations, financially the season was by no means a disaster for the club.

Despite an early exit in the FA Cup and a 12th place Premiership finish this season - four places down on 2002/03 - Saints still made as much money from TV revenue and prize money as they did last year.

The £24m Saints banked didn't include gate receipts, merchandising and all other forms of income.

The reason that Saints still enjoyed a fairly similar season financially with regards to on-pitch achievements was twofold.

1) Though they finished four places worse off in the table, the prize money for each finishing place rose from £503,000 to £560,000.

That meant Saints banked £5.08m in 2003/04 compared to £6.54m the previous season.

2) They received far more money from Sky for having their matches televised live.

In the 2002/03 season Saints had a total of ten games televised - just five in the league and five in the FA Cup.

This season there were 11 - one FA Cup, one Carling Cup, two Pay Per View and eight regular live Sky matches.

And with Premiership Sky games being worth considerably more than an FA Cup ties, the eight matches provided a massive windfall.

Each club automatically gets £12.9m from Sky and then £650,000 every time a match is shown live or £175,000 if it's on Pay Per View.

Saints failed to make much money from the UEFA Cup - chairman Rupert Lowe said last year the competition is only really a money-spinner if Saints got to the last eight - being knocked out in the first round by Steaua Bucharest.

Last season Saints banked around £4m in total from reaching their first FA Cup Final for 27 years.

That sum included £1m in merchandising and £1m in prize money for finishing as runners-up.

This year Saints receives £265,000 for the televising on BBC of their FA Cup defeat against Newcastle while the Carling Cup win over Pompey brought in £100,000 for being televised on Sky.

The figures show the benefit of getting as many live Sky games as possible and put Saints in the middle bracket of Premiership teams with almost £8m more than bottom club Wolves.

But the ever-increasing gap between the elite and rest was underlined by the fact that Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all earnt more than double what Saints did - and that's before their global merchandising and gate receipts are taken into consideration.

Premier League earnings: prize money (max £10.9m, min £0.54m), TV cash (£12.9m per club plus £650,000 per live Sky game, £175,000 per PPV game), Barclaycard sponsorship money (£0.8m per club).

European: Champions League earnings (TV money and performance bonuses) and UEFA Cup (sums estimated as clubs sell own TV and sponsorship rights).

FA Cup: prize money (£50,000 for 3rd rd win rising to £2million final win) and TV money (£265,000 per live match).

Carling Cup: £100,000 for clubs in a live televised match.