The Champions League – The Closed Shop That Rewards Failure

Date: 27th July 2013 at 11:14 am
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Champions League logo

This week you may have seen the release of figures showing how much was earned by teams in last season’s Champions League. It may not surprise many of us that participation in this league is rewarded irrelevant of performance. Nor is it surprising at just how much success is rewarded, a handy way to maintain the status quo, and ensure a single-team domination in some of the less glamorous/smaller leagues.

Firstly, let’s note the basics. Every team got 8.6m euros for being in the group stage.  Then there was a performance bonus handed out for how each team did in the group stages, up to a maximum of 5m euros, which only two teams earned. Then there were extra bonuses for each round negotiated thereafter, the two finalists getting 17m euros between them (10.5 & 6.5 for winner and loser).

All pretty straight forward so far. But then there was one more payment, and that came from the market pool, and it was here that the real discrepancies occur, where success does not match reward. It seems that these payments, totalling over 409m euros in total, were linked to domestic performance in the previous season for each team, and also the set-up of their individual television contracts. Because in some countries the big teams swipe the vast money of their league’s TV revenue, they thus make more from the Champions League market pool hand-out, a system that I can see the reasoning behind, but wholly disagree with.
Thus we can see how Manchester City were over-rewarded for failure. Their doomed campaign landed them 28,777,000 euros, 4 million euros more than quarter-finalists Galatasaray, as they got more than 13 million euros extra from the market pool simply by being English and finishing in the top three of their domestic league the previous season.  Still, City weren’t the biggest over-achievers money-wise, as Montpellier got well over 30 million euros despite themselves not getting out of the group stage, finishing bottom of their group.

What the figures show above all though is the many rewards of Champions League participation. The total money distributed to clubs last season was 904,600,000 euros. It is little wonder that for many clubs their ultimate goal is to finish in the top three or four in their respective league, and it’s also of little surprise that this is so hard to do when the same select group of clubs have been hoovering up the riches of the champions league for so many years.

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