European minnows want bigger portion of pie

Uefa's club competitions are expected to rake in €3.25 billion (S$5.1 billion) this season but the manner in which that money is distributed has become increasingly contentious.
Uefa's club competitions are expected to rake in €3.25 billion (S$5.1 billion) this season but the manner in which that money is distributed has become increasingly contentious.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH • For the 80 teams who qualify for the group stages of European club football, the season starts with a glitzy party at the draw ceremony in Monaco and ends with millions of extra euros in the bank.

But while those clubs cash in on the riches produced by the Champions League and, to a lesser extent, the Europa League, more than 600 top-tier clubs who fail to qualify have to feed off leftovers.

Amid widespread concern that the financial gap between Europe's elite clubs and the rest is still growing, Uefa is being asked by the continent's domestic leagues to alter the way it distributes the huge revenue from its competitions.

European Leagues, its umbrella organisation, says in a report that it wants the unlucky 600 to get a larger slice of the cake.

Uefa's club competitions are expected to rake in €3.25 billion (S$5.1 billion) this season but the manner in which that money is distributed has become increasingly contentious. The 32 Champions League teams will share €2.04 billion, with Europa League participants receiving €510 million.

Only 7.3 per cent (€237.5 million) will be distributed in so-called "solidarity payments" and split between the remaining 600 clubs.

The report, which has been sent to Uefa and the continent's 55 national associations, said this was down from 8.5 per cent in the previous cycle from 2015 to this year.

  • 20% 

  • Solidarity payments may be increased from 7.3 per cent in the next cycle, 2021-24, to improve competitive balance.

"The financial gap between participating clubs and non-participating clubs is increasing, creating a negative effect on competitive balance," it warned, pointing out that the percentage was more relevant than absolute amounts.

The report proposed that the solidarity payments be increased to 20 per cent in the next cycle, which will cover the period 2021 to 2024.

Based on an estimated revenue of €3.3 billion a season, it said this would provide €660 million for those who missed out on European competition. Breaking down the figures further, it proposed that 3.5 per cent (€116 million) be distributed among clubs eliminated in qualifying rounds and 10 per cent (€330 million) to clubs who did not qualify at all.

The European leagues also want 6.5 per cent of total revenue to go into a new pillar which would be used to fund professional football development outside the top five countries.

Uefa is expected to decide on revenue distribution by the end of the season. Aleksander Ceferin, president of the governing body, has said his priority is to improve competitive balance.

But he also acknowledges that the big clubs are responsible for the lion's share of the revenue and has admitted it is a difficult subject.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2018, with the headline 'European minnows want bigger portion of pie'. Print Edition | Subscribe