Monday December 4, 2023

Champions League Final is a Billionaire’s Duel

  • The Champions League finals on Saturday pit together two of the richest sports owners in the world.
  • Loosened restrictions allowed the billionaires to give their teams a financial boost.
UEFA/Design: Alex Brooks
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Chelsea and Manchester City reached Saturday’s Champions League final with the help of two individuals collectively worth around $45 billion.

With the pandemic decimating sports revenues, most teams have had to make difficult decisions regarding how much talent they can afford in the short term. That’s not the case for the two British finalists.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is a Russian businessman worth $14.5 billion, making him the eighth-richest sports team owner, per Forbes. Man City is owned by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, often referred to as Sheik Mansour, whose net worth is estimated at over $30 billion.

The two owners were given the go-ahead to use their full financial heft last year when the UEFA suspended financial regulations that capped how much they can fund their teams.

  • Chelsea spent $272 million on transfers in the 2020-2021 season, more than any team in Europe and nearly as much as every team in Bundesliga combined. 
  • Manchester City dropped $186 million on transfers this season.
  • That’s despite Premier League clubs losing an estimated $961 million in gate revenue due to the pandemic.

Playing in the final will line the two clubs’ pockets even more. The winner of the Champions League takes home $23.2 million, and the runner-up gets $18.3 million.

UEFA is considering converting the CL format into a final-four, single-city, weeklong showcase that would include concerts and other events. Teams earned $2 billion from the tournament last year, down from $2.4 billion the year before.

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