BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 15: Lieke Martens of FC Barcelona (hidden) celebrates with teammates … [+] after scoring their team’s fifth goal during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and HB Koge at Estadi Johan Cruyff on December 15, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
As the first-ever group stage in the UEFA Women’s Champions League ended yesterday evening, the holders FC Barcelona and French champions Paris Saint-Germain are set to earn the highest amounts in prize money after qualifying for the knockout stages by winning all six of their matches.
With UEFA centralizing television and commercial rights for the first time this season, the sixteen teams who qualified to play in the group stage were guaranteed a “starting fee” payment of €400,000 ($452,579). This is supplemented by performance bonuses of €50,000 ($56,577) per win and €17,000 ($19,236) for a draw.
As the only two teams to win all six of their group stage games, FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, therefore earned themselves an additional €300,000 ($339,559) each plus a bonus of €20,000 ($22,635) for winning their group. By reaching the quarter-finals, each club can also expect to eventually receive €160,000 ($181,075) prize money from UEFA pushing their earnings up to €880,000 ($995,726).
In contrast, the only English side to qualify for the quarter-finals, Arsenal, did so by winning just three of their group-stage matches so will recoup €560,000 ($633,694) in prize money plus €160,000 ($181,030) for reaching the last eight. The English champions, Chelsea who went out of the competition last night after a humbling 4-0 defeat to VfL Wolfsburg will still earn €584,000 ($660,921) on account of winning three matches and drawing two in the group stage.
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY – DECEMBER 16: Chelsea look dejected after the UEFA Women’s Champions League … [+] group A match between VfL Wolfsburg and Chelsea FC Women at AOK-Stadion on December 16, 2021 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
This is all a far cry from the first decade of the competition, inaugurated in 2001 as the UEFA Women’s Cup, when no prize money was offered whatsoever. When the tournament was re-branded in 2010 as the UEFA Women’s Champions League with a single showpiece final, only both finalists received any money. This was extended to quarter (€20,000, $22,630) and semi-finalists (€50,000, $56,579) the following year with the winners earning €250,000 ($282,897). This season the champions will earn €350,000 ($396,000) but over the course of the competition, they could earn up to €1.4 million ($1.6 million) in prize money.
In previous seasons, clubs had complained that the €20,000 ($22,630) prize money was often insufficient to cover the costs of travelling to play matches in the competition. These costs were exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic which simultaneously deprived clubs of gate revenue in games played without paying spectators and also necessitated regular PCR testing, the use of charter rather than scheduled flights and the booking of single rather than shared hotel rooms. Last season, Danish champions Brøndby Women, were forced to ask their fans to donate the cost of virtual tickets to raise enough money to fly to Lyon to fulfill the away leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie against holders Olympique Lyonnais.
This season, the Danish champions FC Køge, who went out of the group stage after losing all six of their matches are still guaranteed prize money of €400,000 ($452,579), split into a down payment of €300,000 ($339,486) and a balance of €100,000 ($113,178). 29% of all revenue from the tournament (€7 million, $7.9 million) will also be distributed among the other 56 teams such as Manchester City who went out in the early qualifying rounds of the competition. 23% of revenue (€5.6 million, $6.3 million) is to be distributed to each national association represented in the group stage in the form of “solidarity payments”. The amount distributed to each national association is based on the performance of their clubs in the competition and must be shared equally among the clubs in their top domestic league not competing in the competition.
In a circular published in July, UEFA revealed that revenue totaling €24 million ($27.2 million) would be distributed to the teams in the competition. This figure is almost ten times the €2.7 million ($3.1 million) net revenue generated by the actual tournament, made up of the €15.2 million ($17.2 million) in media and sponsorship contacts minus the estimated €12.5 million ($14.1 million) running costs for the competition. In addition, the revenue generated from the sale of tickets to the final in Turin, UEFA’s own investment of €11.3 million ($12.8 million) and a €10 million ($11.3 million) cross-financing from the UEFA men’s club competitions such as the men’s Champions League brought the figure up to €24 million.
UEFA emphasizes that the distribution plan is based on a forecast. “However, given the current context, the continued high volatility of exchange rates, the unstable global economic situation and the still unpredictable effects of the pandemic, we encourage all clubs to adopt a prudent approach when budgeting for their anticipated income, even for fixed amounts.”

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