European leagues urge fairer share of rising UEFA prize cash
GENEVA (AP) — European soccer officials urged UEFA on Thursday to prevent the wealth gap between clubs from widening when it decides how to distribute billions of euros (dollars) in prize money from 2024.
The European Leagues group hosted more than 200 clubs in an online meeting and told them that “drastic changes” are needed when UEFA allocates cash from the Champions League and other club competitions that will be expanded in two years’ time to have more teams and more games. The new competition formats were finalized last month.
Total revenue from UEFA club competitions is expected to grow to 5 billion euros ($5.28 billion) in the 2024-25 season compared to 3.6 billion euros ($3.8 billion) now, but the European governing body has yet to decide how that money will divided.
The leagues group, which represents 37 European professional leagues, hopes to persuade UEFA to steer more money toward the Europa League and Europa Conference League prize funds instead of the Champions League. It also wants less money allocated to clubs based on their historical record in Europe and a bigger share for the hundreds of top-tier clubs that do not qualify for UEFA competitions.
Prize money is currently weighted heavily toward the Champions League compared to the lower-ranked competitions.
The 32 Champions League teams currently share more than 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) each season at an average of 62.5 million euros ($66 million) each. Europa League clubs get an average of 14.5 million euros ($15.3 million) each from an overall fund of 465 million euros ($490 million).
That gap will grow even larger if the same model is kept in 2024, the European Leagues said.
The leagues have long warned UEFA against a wealth gap that also risks driving imbalance in their own competitions.
European Leagues has typically struggled to compete for influence at UEFA with the European Club Association which is dominated by a group of wealthy storied clubs. Some of those clubs joined the breakaway Super League project that failed last year.
A Manchester United official echoed that group’s views Thursday in Amsterdam, suggesting the Champions League drives up the revenue paid by broadcasters and sponsors.
“We all know where the value is created, let’s not kid ourselves,” United’s chief financial officer Cliff Baty said, stressing it was “at the top.”
Baty, whose club will play in the Europa League next season, said the UEFA prize money model offered financial stability the soccer industry needed.
“If you take that away, it’s going to increase the volatility,” he said.
A total of 96 clubs currently advance to the group stages of the three competitions, each playing a minimum of six games.
The total rises to 108 clubs from 2024, with a guaranteed eight games for teams in the Champions League and Europa League.
UEFA said it had no timetable agreed for talks with clubs and leagues about how to distribute prize money for the 2024-25 season.
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