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3rd placed teams in the Champions League group stages go into the Europa League. I was thinking, assuming an average Champions League team, is it more worth it (purely financially speaking) to go into the knockout stage (and risk getting knocked out at the next rounds), or drop down into the (potentially easier) Europa League and possibly go all the way to the final / win it?

Winning the Europa League has the ultimate reward as a spot in the following year's Champions League which is also financially rewarding in itself.

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    What would be the point in dropping out of UCL and not making money now in order to gain promotion back and only make money two years later? – Nij Sep 13 at 22:47
  • Because, say you are likely to draw one of the big teams like Barcelona or PSG or Real Madrid in the First Knockout Round with one match in the group stage remaining, as an average team you'll only earn financially from one set of home/away matches assuming you'd lose. However, your level of opposition for finishing 3rd and going to the EL may be lower and may be easier to win. Risk/reward? – gkw Sep 14 at 19:33
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    Interesting question. I think most of the teams that drop down into Europa League don't really have a choice in the matter. They have to fight pretty hard to finish 3rd. – default locale Sep 15 at 7:44
  • Do you also count the attendance earnings? UCL 8th finals against a big club will have you sell all your home tickets. In Europa League, stadiums are more that half empty at early stages. – Bebs Sep 16 at 8:18
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Reaching the eighth-finals of Champions League and being eliminated: worst case scenario

Finishing second with four draws and two loses will grant you 4x0.9 = 3.6 million euros.

For reaching the eighth-finals, add 9.5 million euros.

So, the team will earn 13.1 million euros.

Finishing 3rd in group stages, then winning the Europa League: best case scenario

Finishing third with four wins and two loses will grant you 4*2.7 = 10.8 million euros.

Then from the sixteenth-finals to winning the Europa, add 14 million euros.

So, the team will earn 24.8 million euros.


So in theory, you can have configurations where Europa League could be more profitable, but that is very unlikely and way too risky. And Europa is not that easy, a lot of good teams are playing in it and reaching the finals is very hard.

Other sources of income

Television, stadium attendance, sponsors incomes are higher with the UCL that EL.

Sources: UCL Prize money, EL Prize money

  • The difference for finishing 2nd with 4 draws or 3rd with 4 wins should not be applied to the calculation, because that has nothing to do with deliberately dropping out of the UCL to make more profit in the EL. It makes more sense to only include the money rewarded after the group stage. – dly Sep 16 at 12:35
  • @dly, my answer is based on extreme (almost unlikely) cases to compare the worst you can make with UCL 8th and the best you can make by dropping out UCL to EL. To me an hypothetical team that would deliberately finish third (to try to maximize profit in EL), would also try to maximize profit during the group stage. – Bebs Sep 16 at 12:43
  • @dly, in other word I was kind of being the lawyer of OPs idea to show the maximum profit you can make through EL, but also showed it was very unlikely. – Bebs Sep 16 at 12:46
  • I see, but min-maxing the profit from the whole competition doesn't compare the earnings from the end of the group stage until the end of the competition (which is primarily what this question is about), that's why I suggested to remove the group stage results. – dly Sep 16 at 12:48
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No, it's probably not worth the risk.

Reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League alone is worth 9.5 Million €, even if you get knocked out directly. Also you get a piece of the big cake... TV money and some cash based on the team's UEFA coefficient.

In the Europa League you'd have to reach the final in order to make that much money (~ 10 Million Euros). Surviving 4 rounds there is just as risky as playing a top tier team in the UCL and unlike in the UCL you have to win. The UCL prize money is guaranteed and surviving one round will net you a lot more.

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