Saskatchewan's Brett Wilson loses out on high-stakes soccer match

A Saskatchewan entrepreneur and philanthropist cheered on his team at Wembley Stadium Saturday.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist owns 25 per cent of the Derby County Football Club

The Rams last played in the Premier League in the 2007-08 season before being relegated to the Championship. ((Nick Potts/Associated Press))

A Saskatchewan entrepreneur and philanthropist was in Wembley Stadium Saturday cheering on an investment that could have paid big dividends. 

Brett Wilson was among 90,000 passionate soccer fans while Derby County played Queen's Park Rangers in a play-off final. 

Unfortunately for Wilson, the Rangers won the match over his Derby County club 1-0.

He said over the last few years he has learned a lot about the game.

Brett Wilson owns 25 per cent of Derby County Football Club. (CBC)

"I have learned to call it football," Wilson told the Afternoon Edition's Craig Lederhouse from London. "It's no longer soccer."

Wilson owns 25 per cent of the English soccer team.

"I bought into this club five or six years ago on not a whim, but kind of on a high level of curiosity," Wilson said. 

Wilson said his group of investors were hoping to bring marketing skills, talent, and the knowledge from North America to Derby.

For the fans, it's unbelievable.- Brett Wilson, co-owner of Derby County Football Club

"We came into this thinking that we could make a difference. And to be blunt - for five years we failed," Wilson said, laughing.

In English club soccer, the Premier League is the top-tier division featuring the best teams in the country, such as historic giants like Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United.

The Championship, where Derby County competes, is the second-tier division. 

Every year, the three worst teams in the Premier League are relegated to the Championship. The two best teams from the Championship and the play-off winner — the third to sixth place teams — are promoted to the Premier League.

The promotion comes with a hefty payoff.

"With that comes guaranteed incremental revenue of over $200 million US," Wilson said. "Once a year someone plays this game, which is the largest financial stakes we are aware of in the globe in history."

The Rams last played in the Premier League in the 2007-08 season before being relegated to the Championship.

"If we stay up (in the Premiership) we pick up almost $100 million a year in television rights," he said.

Wilson's team loses high-stakes match Saturday

Wilson spoke to CBC ahead of the match played at 8 a.m. CST Saturday. 

He said he expects a lot of passion and nerves before kick-off. He was confident his team would roar into the Premier League with a win.

"If I was Queen's Park, I'd be pretty nervous because they snuck into the finals," he said. "Now, we're not going in cocky and confident, but we're going in fairly sure that we know how to play this game and we're ready. I think momentum is with us."

For someone like Wilson, who grew up thousands of kilometres from Derby County, he said it's exciting to see what this game means to the Derby fans. The team was given 38,000 tickets for the game, which Wilson said sold out in less than an hour. 

"We have for the last five or six years been toiling in the Championship division. For the fans, it's unbelievable."