The Europa League is Not the End of the World for Liverpool

It can’t be much fun to be a football fan in the city of Liverpool these days. With Sunday’s Merseyside Derby approaching, the red side has fallen out of the Champions League and is slipping from its Top Four perch, while the blue side is so decimated by injuries that it’s can’t even stop Hull City from scoring. Reveling in the schadenfreude of the other side’s struggles is really tough when your side seems to be struggling just as badly.

Then there’s the whole prospect of Liverpool and Everton sharing a stadium, something that must make supporters of both sides want to jump off a bridge into the River Mersey just to avoid ever seeing it happen in their lifetimes. Phil Brown probably won’t be there to stop them, either.

Before the “San Scouso” gets built, though, Liverpool FC needs to get its own house in order, and they seem to have figured out something that the supporters need to remember — dropping to the Europa League this season is not the end of the world. Finishing below fourth place in the Premier League is. Yes, the Reds won’t get a shot at Champions League glory, but in terms of cash flow, the Europa League could be just as rewarding.

Liverpool’s already gotten its cash from the Champions League Group Stage. That adds up to €9.1 million in UEFA prize money, not including what they might get at Fiorentina in December. Then there’s the TV “Market Pool” cash. Last year, Liverpool got €10M from that. This year, they get a little more. (Hat tip to The Offside for those numbers.)

So what would have happened if Liverpool had gotten through? Clubs in the round of 16 get €3M each. Quarterfinalists gets another €3.3M. That’s probably as far as the Reds would have gotten this year.

They can make up that €6.3M by reaching the Europa League quarterfinals. The market pool cash in the Europa League kicks in when clubs reach the quarterfinals. Last season, Werder Bremen and Manchester City brought in €4.6M in TV cash for reaching the quarter finals, plus another €420,000 in UEFA prize money. Liverpool’s huge worldwide TV audience means that number could be bigger. That covers the Champions League Knockout Stage losses.

Plus, winning the whole thing — and if Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are healthy during the stretch, that’s a real possibility — will bring in another €4M or so. So financially speaking, winning the Europa League is the same getting to the semifinals of the Champions League, and it comes with a trophy and another €1.4M appearance fee for the UEFA Super Cup next August.

Plus, there is the real possibility of another Merseyside Derby in the Europa League Knockout Stage. Oh, and if you’re a Liverpool or Everton supporter in America, you’d hear Ray Hudson call that game on GOLTV. Tell me that wouldn’t be must-see TV.

So missing out on the Champions League Knockout Stage this year is not the disaster it seems to be. Missing out on the Champions League Group Stage next year, however, would be. Simply put, Liverpool must finish fourth in the Premier League. Don’t rule out their chances, either, because the other contenders for fourth place — Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur — have a history of dropping points they shouldn’t drop, especially late in the season. One good hot streak could put the Reds back above all three of them in a hurry.

Of course, if Liverpool fails to finish fourth but wins the Europa League, maybe they can ask UEFA for special dispensation to the Champions League again. Hey, it worked once before. It might even lead to the Europa League becoming a more “meaningful” competition in the long run.

Then again, what means more to Liverpool supporters right now than beating Everton on Sunday? There’s no better salve for your team’s woes than knocking off a arch rival.

16 thoughts on “The Europa League is Not the End of the World for Liverpool”

    1. Ray, if you could name one Premier League club this season that has suffered so much turmoil and that is deserving of the most amount of coverage, it’s Liverpool.

      However, in the past week, we’ve also written about Everton, Millwall, Hull City, Bolton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Portsmouth, West Ham United, Wolves, Sunderland and several others.

      If there was nothing going on at Liverpool and we were still writing lots of stories about the Reds, then that would be another story.

      The Gaffer

    1. Like scoring only 4 goals in the group one less than Debrecan! Let’s all put that down to bad luck? Or maybe its bad planning to rely on only one striker?

      1. So one minute they are a two man team and the next they are a one man team and then when Alonso leaves they become a 2 man team again and then when they get Robbie Keane who doesn’t take his chances then they have made a mistake for selling him and then N’gog scores and people no one mentions it. Such a 2 dimensional analysis it makes it seem straight-forward when it isn’t, these are fundamentals but they aren’t the only problems.

  1. I’ve always thought that the parachuting of 3rd place CL clubs into the UEFA/EUROPA league is self-serving and one sided (the least Uefa could’ve done is give the Europa Champions a spot in next season’s CL.)

    I would’ve been embarrassed as an LFC fan if this team on their current form came anywhere near the European Cup. They got what they deserved.

    Apart from the immediate financial losses of not making the knock out stages of the CL, Liverpool playing in the Europa League can be a positive thing. Like you said, Liverpool have to actually earn their european revenue and potentially can be a decent sum, it can be good for the Cup as for the first time in years, there is a “Top Four” English club involved.

    It should give Benitez a chance to play the likes of Ngog and others for experience and the likes of Babel so they’ll stop sulking, plus – as the games are usually on Thursday, unless they reach far in the cup, it would be hard to justify playing the likes of Gerrard and Torres for 90 mins with potentially just two days rest for weekend Premier League matches.

  2. No, just the beginning of the end…we will not win it, I can name half a dozen teams who are better than us. We will also not qualify for Champs League next year, so we had better get used to the Europa League under Rafa. The players are not good enough and the team is broken. 5 more years under Rafa…can’t wait.

    1. I’m not sure if you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Are you really a Liverpool fan because you don’t seem to share the mentality or passion for the side.

  3. Dave, very insightful breakdown of the financial consequences to Liverpool of their failure to reach the elimination rounds of the Champions League. I have heard a lot of people and read a lot of sites declaring that it would be a disaster, without support from the numbers. Your analysis and conclusions support what I suspected, which is that while Champions League knockout this year is not a real serious blow to the Liverpool pocketbook, failure to qualify by missing out on the Top 4 spots next year would be. Nicely done.

  4. It is great to have numbers show the truth, as opposed to people speculating about things they don’t fully understand. While I am not a fan of Liverpool getting knocked out of the Champions League, it may be for the best.

    I think they will take fourth, if not third. Arsenal may start having problems with Van Persie and other out. The Hotspurs are full of talent, but seem to get depressed far too easily when things don’t go their way. Aston Villa doesn’t have the experience to mount a challenge and Manchester City, for all their money, can’t seem to step up to the challenge. Heck, an injury ravaged Liverpool still had the upper hand against them!

    1. Indeed. If Aston Villa beats Tottenham on Saturday and Liverpool wins on Sunday, the Reds are only 2 points off the pace for 4th place. There are far too many games left to start thinking the gap here is insurmountable. But the press and the fans do live in the moment, don’t they?

      1. I don’t know many Liverpool fans living in the moment right now but I that sections of the press do because it sells copy.

        Solid evaluation though Dave.

        Interesting article.

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