Last updated on October 7th, 2022
There is no trophy more prestigious in Europe compared to the UEFA Champions League. Winning the competition is unlike anything else in club football. More than just another trophy for the shelves, a Champions League trophy will cement the club into history as one of the best football clubs in the world.
Winning the Champions League is a great challenge even for the largest clubs in Europe. After all, the Champions League trophy opens a lot of opportunities for a club, more than just the glorious accolade.
Here’s what happens when a team wins the Champions League.
What happens when a team wins the Champions League
A lot is at stake at a Champions League game. For one, it has the biggest prize pool for a non-league competition. Additionally, Champions League winners will be able to represent Europe in the Club World Cup, while guaranteeing a spot for the following Champions League season.
#1 Prize money
|Round of 16
The prize money for winning the Champions League is $23.2 million, not much higher than the money runner-ups receive at $18.3 million. However, that is not where most of the money comes from.
Any clubs participating in the Champions League will automatically receive $18.6 million. According to their performance in the group stage, they are awarded an extra $3.3 million for each win, and $1.1 million for a draw.
The prize money per match increases as clubs advance through the later stages of the competition. Eventually, finalists can collect more than $70 million before playing the finals.
In the 2020/2021 Champions League season, Chelsea and Manchester City collected $73 million and $75.2 million before the final match, respectively. Chelsea as the winner received an additional amount of $23.2 million, which saw The Blues make a total of $96.18 million throughout their successful campaign.
#2 A spot in the annual Club World Cup
The winner of the UEFA Champions League will qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup as Europe’s representative. Here, the European champions will fight for the world championship with continental champions from the rest of the world.
In most editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, European representatives are always considered a huge favourite amongst other participants. After all, 14 of the 18 seasons of the Club World Cup have been won by European clubs, with Real Madrid leading at 4 trophies.
As favourites, the UEFA Champions League winner will automatically qualify for the semi-finals of the Club World Cup. In other words, they can win the trophy by playing 2 games.
The Club World Cup may not be as prestigious as the UEFA Champions League, but it is a trophy that is well-appreciated by fans of each respective club. Additionally, the Club World Cup winner gets to bring home a total purse of $16.5 million.
You can find out how UEFA differs from FIFA here.
#3 Automatic qualification for the following Champions League
One of the most convenient perks of winning the Champions League is automatically qualifying for the next season’s competition.
Champions League winners are usually a strong side in their respective league, meaning it is quite rare that a Champions League winner has to rely on this particular privilege.
#4 A chance to win the UEFA Super Cup
The Champions League trophy will be the highlight of the season for any team that manages to win the competition. Still, no club will turn down the chance to win yet another trophy to top their season off.
UEFA Super Cup is an annual competition overlooking a match between the Champions League and Europa League champions. Held before the start of a new season, the UEFA Super Cup offers $5.86 million for the winner and $3.51 million for the runner-ups.
Finishing outside the qualifying zone as Champions League winner
What happens when Champions League winners finish outside of the Champions League qualifying zone in their domestic league? It is certainly a rare occasion, but as mentioned above, they will still qualify for the Champions League as incumbent champion.
A popular example would be Chelsea’s 2011-2012 season. Despite an incredible run winning the Champions League, Chelsea only managed to finish 6th in the Premier League.
Fortunately for Chelsea, they were able to beat Bayern Munich in a thrilling Champions League Final. As a result, they are still eligible for the Champions League, which saw England sending a total of 5 representatives in the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League.
This means they are grouped with the strongest sides and have a better chance for a favourable group stage.
One spot at pot number one is always reserved for the Champions League winner. Accordingly, this means that a Champions League winner who finished outside of the qualifying zone will not take away the spot of other clubs who finished above them in the domestic league.
What happens when a team wins the Champions League while getting relegated
While it is true that underdogs always have a chance to win in football, winning the champions league requires a whole different level of underdogs. To win the Champions League, a team must first qualify by placing high in their domestic league. To reach the final, they will compete with the other 31 best clubs in Europe.
That being said, it is extremely rare that a Champions League winner placed low in their respective league, let alone being in the relegation zone.
A club can only win any championship if they have a solid side. Looking back at football history, it is nearly impossible for a dominant club to fall into relegation in a space of one season.
In rare occasions where domestic league champions were relegated the following season, it is usually due to consequences from scandals instead of a fall in their performance. The most recent example would be Juventus being relegated in 2006 after the Calciopoli scandal.
It would be a historic moment if a Champions League winner gets relegated in the same season, but nothing will change in terms of the prize and qualifications the winner receives.
An incredible story that might represent this scenario would be Wigan Athletic’s campaign in 2012/2013, where they won the FA Cup whilst getting relegated to the Championship.
Regardless of their relegation, the 2nd-tier side still qualifies for the 2013/2014 Europa League.
The Champions League does seem like the most rewarding trophy to win in football.
Aside from the major financial boost a club will receive, they will also qualify for the Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and the following season of the Champions League as an incumbent.
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