moneyball | 

New era of English dominance to begin as Champions League prize money is revealed

Lucrative TV deals and vast prize money have made the Premier League clubs the envy of Europe.
Caesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea lifts the Champions League Trophy following their team's victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou - Pool/Getty Images)

Caesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea lifts the Champions League Trophy following their team's victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou - Pool/Getty Images)

Kevin Palmer

It was a deal that didn't capture too many headlines, but it may just have been the final piece of a jigsaw that paves the way for a decade of Champions League domination for England's leading clubs.

While the Premier League's £5.1billion broadcast agreement with Sky Sports and BT Sport is often highlighted as the primary reason why England's top clubs are in a financial league of their own, the revenue stream that takes them ahead of their rivals was, in fact, created by additional broadcast deals.

That cash pot was given a huge boost last month as a bidding war broke out between ESPN and NBC for Premier League rights in America, with England's top clubs the only winner from a high-stakes war.

In the end, NBC was forced to pay around €2.3bn to hang onto the rights they have held for England top league, with that figure some €800m more than initially anticipated by Premier League chiefs.

That could now translate to another €100m-a-year for the top clubs that feature on TV regularly, with a deal with Middle East TV network beIN Sport worth $500m up to 2025 and additional broadcast revenue added from Champions League rights.

This all adds up to a jackpot of cash for English clubs that makes them the envy of all their European rivals as they look forward to the last-16 of the Champions League.

These eye-watering numbers emphasise the imbalance of wealth that sparked the push to start a European Super League earlier this year by Spanish and Italian clubs, with former Liverpool striker Michael Owen suggesting Premier League clubs would be mad to sign up for any breakaway competition.

Michael Owen spoke to the Sunday World in his role as a BT Sport pundit

Michael Owen spoke to the Sunday World in his role as a BT Sport pundit

"English clubs now hold all the power in European football," declared BT Sport analyst Owen.

"I look at the group Liverpool had in the Champions League this season and that was meant to be the Group of Death with AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Porto.

"In reality, Liverpool brushed everyone aside and even played weakened teams at the end because they were already through - and they still won all six matches.

"The English teams are miles ahead of everyone else now - and that's why I didn't understand why they wanted to join a Super League that would have balanced the playing field out for their rivals. It made no sense.

"So for me, the Champions League winners will come from England this season. Bayern Munich are the only team you would think could give England's finest problems. But it would be no surprise if it was another all-English final after 2019 and 2021."

The sight of Barcelona being dumped out of Europe's elite competition on Wednesday highlighted the demise of Spanish football, with the financial impact of the pandemic adding salt to their open wounds.

Meanwhile, unconvincing displays from a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side in their Champions League group undermined their credentials as contenders for the biggest prize in European football.

So it feels like the path is clear for a period of dominance from England's Premier League - and former Chelsea and Liverpool forward Joe Cole believes money is not the only reason.

Joe Cole was a title winner with Chelsea (Nick Potts/PA)

Joe Cole was a title winner with Chelsea (Nick Potts/PA)

"You can have all the money in the world, but it doesn't mean you will win the biggest trophies," began Cole, speaking exclusively to the Sunday World.

"I look at what Manchester United have done over the last few years and they have spent more money than anyone, but they haven't won the Premier League or the Champions League.

"For me, the big factor separating the English teams from the rest of Europe is the managers we have in the Premier League.

"Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are the best three managers in the world and they have built teams that are too good for the rest.

"I remember when we saw all the foreign players come to English football and it changed the culture of our game for the better.

"Now we are seeing something similar with these great managers - and that's why I would be amazed if we don't see at least one English team in the Champions League final again.

"The rest of Europe is jealous of what we have in England now because not only do we have the most lucrative league in the world, we also have the best managers, players and the best academy set-ups as well.

"Look at the players we are producing like Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, and there are a lot more coming through as well. I see English clubs dominating the Champions League for a good few years now."

Chelsea collected well over €100m in prize money and broadcast cash for their Champions League win last season, with the cash on offer in the Champions League extraordinary.

Close to €85m is available to teams in this season's competition, with the huge $1.5bn broadcast deal with BT Sport ensuring English clubs also get a windfall from that deal every year.

Liverpool winning all six games in their group ensures they have collected more than €42m just in UEFA prize money so far, with that figure growing rapidly if they make it through to the latter stages in the New Year.

After Chelsea beat Manchester City in last season's final, few would be surprised if we see another all-English decider in St Petersburg.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PRIZE MONEY ALLOCATION 2021/22

Qualification For Group Stages - €15.64million

Group Stage Win - €2.8million

Last 16 Qualification - €9.6million

Quarter Final - €10.6million

Semi Final - €12.5million

Reaching the Final - €15.5million

Winners - €4.5million

Qualification for European Super Cup - €3.5million

BT Sport is available to Sky customers in Ireland with a Sports Extra package.


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