Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Champions Leagues - Euros for UEFA - A Blip for MLS

I recently wrote a post about MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League, specifically addressing the lack of interest shown by MLS teams and MLS fans, among other things. Last week the Columbus Crew, the last MLS team standing in the competition, came back from 2-0 to draw against the 2009 Apertura winner Toluca. The return leg is this week.

Why you should be watching Columbus from Andrea Canales.

And why it's so important for Euro clubs to both qualify and do well in the UEFA Champions League.
Liverpool's Champions League Hangover.
Here's Part 2 on the Liverpool Hangover.

Why do I point to these two teams out of all that are participating in Champions League tourneys around the world? Easy, Columbus, because I'm an MLS fan and big supporter of the CONCACAF Champions League, and Liverpool, because it's exploits highlight what's both right and wrong with the Euro competition. Liverpool's failure to advance out of the group phase this year signals end of a five year period in which it finished no worse that achieving the round of 16. They were winners in 04-05, runner up in 06-07, quarterfinalists in 07-08 and 08-09 and made the round of 16 in 05-06.

You can see from the chart below(and in more detail in the article linked above) that this means big money. The big clubs in Europe that play in the tourney year after year have ratcheted up their spending so that in some cases, failure to make the Champions League may make the difference between profit and loss for a season. That's an enormous amount of pressure and a cycle that has been a major contributor to the spiraling payrolls in Euro ball. And as for the managers, Jose Mourinho was hired to coach Inter Milan, replacing Roberto Mancini, despite Mancini's guiding the club to three straight Scudetto titles because of his failure in the UCL. Mourinho himself, some say, was discarded from Chelsea for the same reason.

But to get back to the point of this little diatribe of mine, Liverpool's failure to reach the round of 16 costs the club at least 3m Euros. If they had made it out of the quarterfinals and lost, they would have earned an addtional 3.3m Euros. For Columbus, if they fail to win their quarterfinal tie vs Toluca, they will have earned zero prize money. If they win the tournament, the club will earn $77,000, and from that 50% will be the players' share. Talk about lack of incentive! (note: I haven't listed it, but the UCL has prize money for all clubs, including those that qualify and lose in the preliminary rounds)

Postscript: Just to add a little spice to this disorganized post, yeah, I admit it, Inter Milan has advanced to the UCL quarterfinals. Why do I mention this? Because Serie A, whose teams have performed poorly in the two Euro tourneys in recent years, is in jeopardy of losing one of its prized Champions League slots to Germany. The performances of Inter and Juventus(in the Europa League tourney) will determine if, or when, the swap of UCL places occurs.

 Quarterfinal Teams $11,000  
 Quarterfinal Winners $16,500  
 Semifinal Winners $22,000  
 Winner $27,500  
 Winner Total $77,000  

 Advance to Round of 16  € 3,000,000 
 Quarterfinal Winners  € 3,300,000 
 Semifinal Winners  € 4,000,000 
 Runner-up  € 5,200,000 
 Champion  € 9,000,000 
 Winner Total € 19,300,000.00 

UEFA CL prize money
1 Euro = $1.37 US as of March 16, 2010

Champions' League websites.

CAF Champions League(Africa)
AFC Champions League(Asia)
CONCACAF Champions League(North America)
Copa Libertadores(South America)

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