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Manchester United’s finance chief opposes major overhaul in splitting Euro revenue

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Manchester United’s finance chief Cliff Baty has warned against a major overhaul of how money from the UEFA Champions League and other European competitions is carved up.

Manchester United’s chief financial officer Baty said football’s leaders should not “kid themselves” about where value in the European game was created – by the continent’s top clubs.

He added that major changes to financial distribution would impact on club sustainability.

Jacco Swart, managing director of the European Leagues group which represents 37 professional leagues across the continent, including the English Premier League (EPL), had stirred the hornets nest on Thursday.

He had said “drastic changes” were needed to the revenue split when the newly-agreed European club competition formats kick off from 2024.

Revenue for the 2024 to 2027 cycle is understood to have been projected at five billion US dollars a year.

Swart has now called for an increased percentage of that to be given in solidarity to non-participating clubs.

In addition there should be a greater share to the Europa League and Europa Conference League and a change to how money is divided up within the two premier competitions.

Swart called for a reduction in the percentages awarded in the Champions League and the Europa League based on historical coefficient and the television market pool.

Baty however said he appreciated “the sentiment of wanting to give more money”.

He nonetheless added that while “the pie is getting bigger”, the reason the broadcasters are paying that much money is for the product, frankly at the Champions League level.

“I think we should put more money down. I totally agree with the sentiment, but the value is created at the top. So, if you start changing that, and making it more difficult for the bigger clubs to perform, it’s hard.”

European Leagues presented data showing 3.6 billion euros (3.74 billion dollars) in annual income in the current 2021 to 2024 cycle.

But out of this, 2.8 billion euros ends up at 96 participating clubs with just 175 million euros then split among 750 non-participating clubs.

Swart said the way money is divided in the Conference League was a “very good example” of a more equitable split.

This is, 40 per cent as a starting fee, 40 per cent based on performance, 10 per cent on historical coefficient and 10 per cent on the television market pool.

“We should move in the same direction for other competitions,” he added.

Currently the split for the Champions League is 25 per cent starting fee, 30 per cent performance, 30 per cent historical coefficient and 15 per cent TV market pool.

The current financial model clearly favours Europe’s established clubs from the bigger TV markets.

In 2020/2021, FC Porto made 74.05 million euros (60.8 million pounds) from their run to the Champions League last eight, according to UEFA figures.

But that was only the 11th-highest club figure for revenue derived purely from the Champions League.

FC Barcelona (84.8 million euros), Juventus (82.9 million euros) —- who FC Porto beat in the last 16 —- and Atletico Madrid (75.06 million euros) all earned more, in spite of dropping out in the round before.

Fellow quarter-finalists Bayern Munich earned 97.22 million euros —- more than 23 million euros extra —- and fellow last-eight finishers Liverpool earned 88.06 million euros.

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Olawale Alabi

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