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Premier League money is destroying the Europa League

On Monday night the draw for the UEFA Intertoto Cup was made. Apologies, that ended seven years ago, I mean the UEFA Cup. No wait, it’s called the Europa League now, right?

UEFA Europa League Manchester United

UEFA Europa League final ambassador Alexander Frei draws out Manchester United during the Round of 32 draw Source: Getty Images

The Europa League merits very little respect and authenticity in comparison to big brother, the Champions League. It boasts a small pot of prize money, draws limited crowds, and after jolting through several name and format changes it fails to provide a true identity.

For clubs such as last season’s Austrian Bundesliga runners-up Rapid Vienna, involvement in the competition can be extremely rewarding financially and no doubt the Ernst-Happel-Stadion will be brimming for the clash with Valencia.

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Yet for the likes of 11-time European champions Liverpool, I expect the celebrations of manager Jurgen Klopp and his Reds fans were far more subdued.

I imagine the German conducted his business with a glass of milk, newspaper on lap, glancing up at the TV occasionally while sending abusive texts to Tony Pulis.

As for Louis Van Gaal, he’s still praying for a way Manchester United could sneak back into the Champions League rather than stomach a trip to FC Midtjylland. Reviewing Real Madrid’s registered players list would be a good first call of play, Louis.

Premier League clubs have always looked down on the Europa League. No English team has ever dropped out of the Champions League and into the competition sighing: ‘well, at least we’re still in a European competition’. If anything, falling into the Europa League is considered a burden. A dent in pride. A stain on history.

Between Liverpool and United they have claimed 16 European trophies but I can’t see either side claiming this season’s Europa League title.

Because of quality? Of course not.

Because managers will favour the Premier League when it comes to squad rotation. Because players will lack the drive and determination to succeed in the competition.

And, because the sad truth is that football is a game dominated by money. There’s no hiding away from these figures:

Champions League winners prize money: $75.89 million

EPL winners prize money: $52.29m

Europa League winners prize money: $19.95 million

Europa League prize money is all but a fraction of the Champions League and Premier League kitties. In fact, a team that finishes just outside the top-10 in the EPL table would collect the same prize money as winning the Europa League.

This is before we’ve delved into the overwhelming figures earned through EPL TV rights.

The big money is earned through TV rights and an area where the EPL sweeps aside the rest. Through TV rights and commercial deals across the world, Chelsea claimed a record-breaking combined total of $208 million during last season’s march to the Premier League title.

In this current campaign, the Champions League winners will rake-in around $150 million, while the Europa League victors will have their total significantly boosted if they are from Spain, England, Italy or Germany, as they receive higher global coverage. But it’s nothing on the EPL.

If only clubs could see football from a fans perspective and understand that money aside, the possibility of many fixtures is mouth-watering, no-matter what the competition.

Picture Manchester United meeting Valencia in the final in Basel. Gary Neville at the helm of his Spanish side as he prepares to face the club he will always be remembered as an icon.

Or Borussia Dortmund matched-up with Liverpool. The image of Klopp standing in the opposing dugout to BVB with his new fans roaring on the Reds is enough to send shivers down the back.

Unfortunately, the only image in the eyes of football clubs is dollar signs.


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4 min read
Published 15 December 2015 at 11:12am
By Liam Curtis
Source: SBS