The recession isn't affecting the revenues generated by the European Champions League, the world's most lucrative club competition. According to UEFA figures, the tournament will earn a record $1.55 billion in marketing and television revenues for clubs and organizer UEFA this season, a figure up 33 percent from last season. And this revenue stream isn't going anywhere. UEFA plans to match it for two more seasons after signing global television and sponsorship deals with top-tier partners like Ford, Heineken, MasterCard, PlayStation, Sony and UniCredit through 2012.
Where does this money go? The elite 32 teams featured in the group stage draw next week will share more than two-thirds of total commercial revenues. These payouts do not include money earned from sales of tickets and merchandise. Before play begins in September group stages, each club is guaranteed $10.1 million for participating. Clubs also get bonuses based on results. A group stage victory pays $1.14 million, while the final next May is worth an extra $12.8 million to the winner and $7.4 million to the runner-up. A team that won all six of its group matches en route to lifting the trophy would be guaranteed $44.4 million, plus a share of television rights.
Reigning champion FC Barcelona earned almost exactly that amount last season after including revenue from television contracts. Runner-up Manchester United got the biggest payout, $53.8 million, in part because England is a more valuable television market than Spain. UEFA has also set aside $78 million for teams involved in the playoff round, a fourth and final stage of qualifying which was introduced for this season's competition. UEFA, meanwhile, will retain around $285 million of total revenues to cover its own costs and make solidarity payments to 53 member associations, national leagues and clubs.