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All the pressure is on Chelsea
by Paul Kennedy, May 18th, 2012 4:36PM
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TAGS:  england, germany, soccer business, uefa champions league


By all accounts, Bayern Munich is the favorite to win the UEFA Champions League final (TV: Fox Sports, Saturday, 2:45 pm ET, live).

Bayern will be playing at home -- the first time the Champions League final will have been played at the venue of one of the two participants.

Bayern played the better soccer in eliminating Real Madrid in the semifinals than Chelsea did in upsetting Barcelona.

Bayern has more weapons up front with Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery than Chelsea does.

And those suspended from Bayern -- David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo -- will be missed less than those suspended from Chelsea -- John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles.

So the pressure would seem to be entirely on Bayern Munich, right?

Fact is, Chelsea is under the gun to win.

To the tune of $63 million.

That's the amount of money the Blues earned from competing in the Champions League this season and will be lost next season if they do not win Saturday.

By finishing sixth in the EPL, Chelsea failed to secure qualification to next year's Champions League. It's only remaining chance to qualify is as the holder. The last year it didn't go to the Big Show was 2002-03.

Since then, UEFA has slowly moved to implement measures to keep clubs from spending beyond their means, ie. relying on sugar daddies like Chelsea owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Loose controls have allowed the debt owed by European clubs to rise to $13 billion so UEFA is starting to reel in the biggest clubs.

In the past, Abramovich could cover the loss of the Champions League revenue stream himself by loaning Chelsea the money. But no more.

UEFA's accounting of the spending by clubs seeking to enter the Champions League began this year (click here for the regulations). It's still two years before clubs face exclusion from UEFA competitions if their cumulative losses exceed $62 million.

That conveniently is just about the amount Chelsea stands to lose if it doesn't beat Bayern Munich.

If Abramovich looks more nervous than usual when you see shots of him in his luxury box during the Chelsea-Bayern game, you now know why.

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