Chelsea tops UEFA prize money list with $126M last season

Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech, right, celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goalduring the English FA Cup quarter final soccer match between Middlesbrough and Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium, in Middlesbrough, England, Saturday March 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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GENEVA (AP) — Champions League winner Chelsea topped UEFA’s prize money list for last season while traditional powers Juventus and Barcelona lagged far behind in a campaign during which they spearheaded efforts to launch a more lucrative Super League.

Chelsea earned nearly 120 million euros ($126.5 million) from a total fund of nearly 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) shared by the 32 Champions League clubs. That was just ahead of beaten finalist Manchester City, which received just over 119 million euros ($125.6 million).

Further down the list — trailing at least 35 million euros ($37 million) behind Chelsea and Man City — were traditional high earners Barcelona and Juventus.

Both clubs lost in the round of 16 and the UEFA list shows Barcelona earned less than 85 million euros ($90 million) and Juventus got less than 83 million euros ($88 million).

The two clubs, along with Real Madrid, then led an elite group of 12 teams trying to break from UEFA and launch their own Super League, which was announced one month after their Champions League eliminations. The project aimed to give founding members more money and guarantee their place in the competition even if the team under-achieved. They said the project was necessary for an ailing soccer industry after many clubs reported record losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nine other Super League members, including Chelsea and Man City, quickly renounced the project amid fierce backlash from fans, national governments and UEFA, leading to its collapse within 48 hours.

The 32 Champions League clubs are paid an equal entry fee, match result bonuses, a share of their domestic broadcast deal and a weighted payment based on historical record in UEFA competitions.

Semifinalists Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain each got almost 110 million euros ($116 million) last year, the only other clubs to earn a nine-figure sum from UEFA.

The prize money standings for Juventus and Barcelona will look similar this season.

Juventus again went out in the round of 16 to a lower-ranked opponent. Barcelona did not even advance from its group, then lost in the Europa League quarterfinals.

UEFA’s prize list for 2020-21 again showed the wealth gap between the marquee Champions League and the second-tier Europa League.

The lowest UEFA payment to a Champions League club was 18.45 million euros ($19.5 million) to Ferencváros of Hungary, which lost five of its six group-stage games.

Ferencváros received just 1.1 million euros ($1.16 million) from UEFA’s 585-million euro ($618 million) fund rewarding clubs for their historical record in European competitions. In contrast, 13-time European champion Madrid was paid 35.5 million euros ($37.5 million) from that fund.

Those “coefficient” payments began in 2018 after pressure from the European Club Association, led by the clubs who later tried to create the Super League.

The Europa League’s prize fund for clubs was 541 million euros ($571 million) — about 28% of the Champions League sum, and shared among 56 clubs instead of 32.

Europa League winner Villarreal got 33.1 million euros ($35 million) and the team it beat in the semifinals, Arsenal, earned just under 30 million euros ($31.6 million).

Manchester United, the Europa League beaten finalist after placing third in its Champions League group, received a combined total of 79.6 million euros ($83.6 million) from the two competitions.

From the Champions League fund, 8 million euros ($8.4 million) was paid to the ECA, which represents nearly 250 clubs who play in UEFA competitions.

Each club had about 5% of its prize money deducted as part of a five-year agreement to pay rebates to UEFA broadcasters and sponsors for disruption in the pandemic-hit 2019-20 season.