Breaking Down A Possible European Adventure

Harold Cunningham

For those new to the game of European qualification, we take a look at how Everton can qualify for the Champions League and Europa League as well as the prize money available for both competition. Needless to say, Everton should be shooting for that Champions League berth.

With Everton contending for either a Champions League or Europa League berth this season, a lot of focus has turned to what kind of cash payout the club can expect for their European adventure. As you would expect, the Champions League is a much bigger payout, but depending on success in the Europa League, a tidy sum can be made by advancing well into the knockout stages.

Before getting into the numbers, a quick review for those who don’t know how European qualifying works. In England, the top 3 teams in the table qualify directly for the Champions League group stages. The 4th place team qualifies for the Champions League, but has to win a home and home playoff to make it to the group stages. Oh and to add a little drama to things, if the winner of the Champions League finishes outside of the top 4, they knock the team that finished in 4th out of the Champions League and take their place. If you want to know what this feels like, go ask a Spurs fan.

For the Europa League, England gets 3 spots in the competition. The first spot goes to the club finishing in 5th place in the table. The next 2 spots go to the winners of the League Cup and FA Cup. If the winner of the FA Cup has already qualified for Europe by finishing in the top 5, things get interesting.

If the winner of the FA Cup finishes in the top 5 of the league, the other finalist gets a berth in Europe. If that team has also finished in the top 5 of the league, then the Europa League spot goes to the highest team in the table that hasn’t qualified for Europe, in this case a team in 6th place. If the winner of the League Cup has also finished in the top 5, the teams that finish in 6th and 7th qualify for the Europa League.

As Evertonians, we want to see the big clubs making the finals of cup competitions if we don’t make it. This gives the club a bigger opportunity to qualify for Europe by finishing in the top 7 of the league. Already this year we know that European qualification will could come down to the top 6 clubs in the table at best. This is because the teams left in the semifinals of the League Cup are Swansea City, Chelsea, Aston Villa, and Bradford City. Only a Chelsea victory in the cup would allow the 7th place team in the league to go to Europe. Certainly possibly, but with Chelsea you never really know. The bottom line is if Everton get knocked out of the FA Cup, start rooting for the big clubs to go to the final.

Now that we have qualification out of the way, let’s take a look at the riches that await Champions League qualifiers. Assuming Everton finish in 4th, they will get a cool 2.1 million euros just for making the competition. A victory in the playoff to secure a group stage place means another 8.6 million euros for joining the party. In the group stage, every victory is another 1 million euros while a draw is 500K euros.

Now let’s say Everton gets drawn into a weak group and makes it into the knockout round. To do that they win 2 games and draw 2. That means they get 13.7 million euros. Add in another 3.5 million for reaching the knockout rounds and we get a sweet payday of 17.2 million. This doesn’t even take into account the television money clubs get.In the 2010/2011 season, Manchester United got 25.9 million from TV while Barcelona only earned 20.3 million euros in TV money despite winning the cup. Even if Everton lose every group stage match they are probably looking at a good 20 million euros minimum when factoring in tv money. We could actually buy players for once.

The Europa League would not be quite the windfall its bigger brother is, but the prize money could certainly help Everton shore up the books. All teams in England end up in the final play-off round where 100K euros is the prize for winning. A victory there earns another 1.3 million euros for getting to the group stage. Victories are worth 200K euros while draws are only worth 100K euros. Clubs can also earn prizes for finishing top of the group (400K euros) as well as second (200K euros). If Everton were to win their group the club would stand to gain about 2.6 million euros with 3 wins and 2 draws. Prize money in the knockout rounds breaks down to 200K for the round of 32, 350K for the round of 16, 450K for the quarterfinals, and a nice 1 million euros for making it to the semifinals. The losing team in the finals gets 2.5 million euros, and the winner 5 million along with guaranteed entry into next year’s Europa League. If Everton make it to the finals they are looking at anywhere between 7.1 and 9.6 million euros. Once again TV money would still have to be divided up, and my guess is England receives a substantial chunk of the revenue relative to other countries.

Obviously this isn’t the payday that the Champions League is, but Everton can still use the money. With losses of 9 million pounds this year, even the Europa League could help the club break even. Add in the additional exposure of being in Europe and the benefits are almost essential to Everton being able to compete for European places in the future.

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