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  • Champions League Final Could Be Worth At Least $166M For Winner

    Champions League Final Could Be
    Worth More Than $166M For Winner
    English Premier League clubs Manchester United (ManU) and Chelsea today will face off in the UEFA Champions League final from Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and a study from England's Coventry Univ. (CU) indicates that after factoring in sponsorships, TV contracts, "higher players' value and ticket-sales growth," this year's title will "eventually be worth more than" $166M (all figures U.S.), according to Martin Rogers of YAHOO SPORTS. CU professor Simon Chadwick in a statement this week said the Champions League final is "not only the greatest prize in European club football, but it is also expected to be the biggest yet in economic terms, with a total cumulative impact that could amount to upwards" of $412M (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/21).

    TEAMS IN DEBT: Rogers notes while ManU is valued at about $1.8B, it has debts of around $1.08B, and UEFA President Michel Platini said that he would "like to see licensing implemented to restrict the level of borrowing and leverage that owners are able to use to buy clubs." Platini: "Licensing will come and, when it does, no longer will clubs be able to win through debt" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/21). In Manchester, David Conn reported the latest filings from ManU and Chelsea show that the clubs owe creditors $1.5B and $1.44B, respectively. Today's game marks the first time two English clubs have competed in the Champions League final, and Conn wrote those "unprecedented figures will fuel concern that at this time of English football's greatest club triumph its clubs are carrying too much debt." Chelsea's filings for the FY ending June 30, 2007, show that the club's "largest creditor" was Owner Roman Abramovich, who "poured [$1.14B] into the club ... as an interest-free loan" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 5/20).

    Tickets To Today's Champions
    League Final Still Available
    EMPTY NET: In London, Oliver Kay wrote to the "embarrassment of UEFA and its sponsors, the Champions League final will take place against a backdrop of empty seats." The travel costs have prevented ManU from selling their 21,000 ticket allocation. UEFA has "been unable to sell all the tickets" in the stadium, which for the game will have a capacity of 69,500. Chelsea had originally "claimed that they had sold their allocation," but the team's Web site "indicated that there was still 'limited availability' for two-night packages." Kay noted there are "enormous costs" for the trip to Moscow, with "airlines and hotels hiking up prices." And Tony Burlton, Chair of the ManU supporters' club's London branch, said, "It's unheard of for there to be empty seats in our end for European matches. Moscow is not the right venue and I do not know why it was not reviewed once it became apparent that it was likely to feature two English clubs" (LONDON TIMES, 5/20). In London, Sean Walker reported up to "50,000 British fans are expected" in Moscow for the match (London INDEPENDENT, 5/20).

    DREAM COME TRUE? The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt writes Russia-native Abramovich finally "gets his wish, Chelsea in a Champions League final, in Moscow, no less." Money "might not buy happiness, but apparently it can buy this." For Abramovich, "getting a crack at the one title that has eluded him might be interpreted as confirmation that he knew what he was doing all along" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/21). A spokesperson for ManU Owners the Glazer family declined to say how many of the Glazers would attend today's game (LONDON TIMES, 5/20).

    RISING STAR: The U.S. men's national soccer team in the next month will play games against England, Spain and Argentina, all of which will be televised by either ESPN2 or ESPN Classic, and Chicago Women's Pro Soccer President Peter Wilt said, "It's a direct result of ESPN and the power traditional media has on mainstream society." Wilt: "This has probably been an evolution, not a revolution. It's been a slow process, but more (media) decision-makers are coming from a soccer generation and are more comfortable with the sport. You don't get the anti-soccer feeling you used to get" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/20).

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