Johannesburg - Earlier this year, Europe’s governing football body Uefa proudly announced that the prize money allocated for the Champions League had been increased by 10%.
While this increase does not seem that high, a closer look at the figures paints a somewhat different picture.
A staggering €1.32 billion (R19.5 billion) will be paid out to the clubs playing in this year’s competition.
Treated the same
To put that into perspective, the reputable website transfermarkt.de, considered to be the authority on the value of players, valued the entire Kaizer Chiefs squad at €11.93 million.
This means that the prize money allocated in the Champions League could buy all the Amakhosi players 110 times.
Alternatively, if you are not an Amakhosi fan and would prefer to invest your money elsewhere, the Champions League prize could buy you 112 257 Volkswagen Polo Vivos.
The prize money for the Champions League is allocated according to a complex – and, at times, confusing – formula.
Basically, there are two different money pools. The first is the fixed one, where all clubs and countries are treated the same.
This totals €761 million and is divided among the clubs based on their performance, with each team in the group stages being guaranteed €12.5 million.
In addition, they receive money for each point they achieve in the group phase and more payouts as they progress.
The second money pool comprises cash paid out of the marketing pool – totalling €507 million – and the income per club from this amount depends on the success in the competition, as well as the country they come from.
In effect, this translates as follows: in the unlikely event of a club from Kazakhstan winning the tournament, they would receive substantially less than a club from Spain.
There is a further division in that clubs from the same country receive different amounts based on their position during the last season. This leads to huge disparities between clubs.
For example, last season Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica were knocked out in the quarterfinal, but the French club received €40.3 million from the marketing pool, while the Portuguese club earned €7.3 million.
On the surface, the amount of money being pumped into football seems like a good thing, but there is the danger that it is creating a two-tier society of football clubs across Europe.
Dominating local football through the league
French football journalist Patrick Juillard, who works for the news site Football365.fr, says it is happening already.
“There are many examples where the money that clubs receive from the Champions League helps them to continue their dominance in their local leagues. Probably the best example is Bate Borisov”.
The club is the only team from Belarus to have qualified for the Champions League group phase, having done so for the first time in the 2008/09 season. Since then, they have won their local championship every year and have managed a further four appearances in the group phase.
For their last appearance, they received €18 million, which seems like small fry compared with the €83.8 million that Manchester City received.
But, again, placed in context, it paints a very different picture.
The entire Bate Borisov squad is worth €16.25 million, with the next highest valued squad in the league being Belarussian players Dynamo Minsk, said to be worth €7.4 million.
In other words, the money that Borisov receives from one season in the Champions League would allow them to buy players to the value of their entire squad.
Juillard believes this gives them an unfair advantage.
“It is like a never-ending circle. They play in the Champions League, get a lot of money and buy good players. That helps them win the league again, so they play in the Champions League, get a lot of money and buy good players – and so on.
“Borisov are not the only club to have been able to dominate local football thanks to money received from the Champions League. You have Astana (Kazakhstan), KAA Gent (Belgium), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) and Celtic (Scotland), to name a few.
“Celtic have been in the group stage six times in the past 10 years. Can you imagine the kind of money they earned during that period?
“Unsurprisingly, they have won six Scottish titles in a row”.
Juillard says the problem is exacerbated in countries where just one team qualified for the lucrative competition.
“In countries such as Spain, Germany, England and Italy, the money is spread around. Yes, it is difficult to win the league if you are not superrich, but you can finish third and, if you then play in the Champions League, you can get rich.
“And once you are in that bracket, it is just like life, I suppose. The rich keep on getting richer, and the poor stay poor.”
. To see the full table showing the monetary breakdown, go to: http://www.uefa.com//MultimediaFiles/Download/competitions/General/02/41/82/55/2418255_DOWNLOAD.pdf