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Lucrative Champions League

March 1, 2011

I have been interested in finding out how lucrative UEFA Champions League participation is for a football club and yesterday Ajax released its half-year figures. As they only participated in the Europa League the year before, the comparisons between 2009 and 2010 numbers are showing how lucrative the Champions League really is.

The numbers that Ajax released are the half-year figures covering the period of July until December 2010. In the statement they are comparing it with July – December 2009, making it ideal to see the impact of the Champions League as Ajax only played Champions League for half a year. I am only interested in revenues at the moment. The numbers are not distorted by the sale of Luis Suarez and Urby Emanuelson as those happened in January 2011.

So how lucrative is the Champions League for Ajax? Well, in summary Ajax’s net revenues increased by €24.7M from Jul-Dec 2009 to Jul-Dec 2010. Not all of this can be attributed to the Champions League of course and I will try to break it down (see table below):

Football income has increased by €18.3M. Of this amount, €6.7M is related directly to gate receipts from European games and €9.7M is from European prize money. €16.4M is a direct impact of playing in the Champions League! Gate receipts for national competition and friendlies increased by €0.6M, season tickets increased by €0.8M, business seats and skyboxes increased by €0.3M and indirect income (payment from the national FA for use of players in the World Cup) has gone up by €0.2M. Out of all these, I reckon the business seats increase can be attributed to the Champions League. Companies love to wine and dine and show off at a European game, don’t they?

Sponsorship has increased by €2.2M as more companies signed up and there is also an increase of income from organising football clinics by another €0.2M. I can safely say that at least 50% of the sponsorship increase is due to the Champions League. Sponsors will surely pay more for Champions League participation.

Television revenues increased by €3.2M and this is mainly due to the European TV revenues from the Champions League. And merchandising income increased by €0.8M, of which I will attribute 50% due to Champions League. I am sure more fans bought shirts because Ajax is playing Champions League.

Adding it all together, my estimation is that Champions League participation netted Ajax a nice €21.4M of revenues. Which is interesting, as Ajax made a loss of around €20M during 2009-2010. Of course there are increase of costs as well, such as players bonuses, match day expenses, etc. But at least now I know how much half a year of Champions League participation brings to a club.

Now we know what financial mess Chelsea will be in if they miss out on Champions League qualification next year.

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