European clubs to receive massive hike in Champions League revenue

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas holds the Champions League trophy which his side won in May. 

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Europe’s top clubs can bank on getting more Champions League prize money for the next three years.

UEFA marketing officials told European Club Association members on Tuesday to expect a 30 percent raise in Champions League revenues for the 2015-18 commercial sales cycle.

Currently, Europe’s top football competition earns 1.34 billion euros ($1.73 billion) annually from broadcasters and sponsors – valuing the new deal at about 1.75 billion euros ($2.25 billion) each year.

”The European football family is very strong, united and fortunately wealthy as well,” said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the ECA and Bayern Munich.

The 32 clubs in the group stage currently share more than 900 million euros ($1.16 billion) in UEFA prize money. Real Madrid’s 57.4 million euros ($74 million) share was the biggest last season.

ECA secretary general Michele Centenaro said the increase is ”very, very significant” for both the Champions League and Europa League.

”You could not really believe 30 percent more on a high (current) level,” Centenaro said.

Much of the raise is due to an improved British TV deal after BT Sport outbid longtime rights holder Sky Sports.

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Aware of criticism that Champions League money widens the gulf between rich and poor clubs, UEFA and the ECA will have talks about giving a bigger share to clubs which don’t qualify for the group stages.

The Champions League already gives a 40 million euro ($51.5 million) subsidy each season to the Europa League. This season, the second-tier competition will distribute about 210 million euros ($270 million) to clubs from the group stage onward.

Clubs are set to get a more modest dividend at the expense of big-spending rivals which were fined under Financial Fair Play rules.

The ECA wants UEFA to give out about 24 million euros ($31 million) withheld in prize money from nine clubs sanctioned last season for overspending on player transfers and wages.

”It was an agreement between UEFA and the clubs that it was money belonging to the clubs,” Rummenigge said.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Zenit St. Petersburg paid almost all of the money retained by UEFA.

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Rummenigge said a proposal to UEFA’s executive committee calls for sharing the money among clubs playing in last season’s Champions League and Europa League groups, excluding the offenders.

More than 70 clubs would each get about 265,000 euros ($341,000). The remaining 20 percent, 4.4 million euros ($5.7 million), would be spread among clubs eliminated in qualifying rounds.

Rummenigge praised UEFA President Michel Platini – an opponent in the 1980s when they played – for good relations between their organizations.

Platini met officials from the 149 ECA members attending Tuesday, and promised talks on Oct. 13 to review the first year of Financial Fair Play sanctions.

”We will see whether any imperfections can be ironed out and whether there is room to further improve the system,” Platini said in his speech.