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The Telegraph

No Champions League football could leave lasting impact on Liverpool

The importance of Liverpool salvaging their season and reclaiming a top four place can be laid bare when considering the estimated £280 million windfall the club has received from its four years of Champions League participation. Jurgen Klopp admitted there are a multitude of motivating forces at work for his staff and players to swiftly get over the 3-1 aggregate quarter-final defeat by Real Madrid and refocus their efforts on chasing down Chelsea, West Ham and Leicester City before Monday’s trip to Leeds United. “We love this competition and it is for different reasons very important for this club,” said Klopp after Wednesday night’s 0-0 second-leg draw at Anfield. From a sporting and economic perspective, Champions League qualification is a game-changer and the financial hit of missing out could not be worse timed given the consequences of the pandemic, which have already cost Liverpool an estimated £120 million in lost earnings related to matchday and commercial revenues. Liverpool returned to the European elite in the 2017/18 season when they earned £71.5 million for reaching the final. The following year they received £95.5 million as winners, while even when defeated in the round of 16 in 2020 they were awarded £71.3 million in prize money. The English clubs will have to wait until the end of the season to see how much they earn from this year’s competition – payments are related to the success of teams in the same member association – but a conservative estimate will see Liverpool receive at least £40 million having reached the last eight. As English champions, they were set to receive more than their Premier League rivals the further they proceeded in the competition, but Chelsea and Manchester City’s progress will impact on the final distribution of the prize fund. What would be the impact if Liverpool failed to qualify? Of greater concern for Liverpool is not being in the Champions League at all next season. Liverpool have been readying themselves for that possibility after their alarming post-January dip and have made assurances that while they would suffer, steps have been taken to minimise the impact. Fenway Sports Group’s recent £543 million sale of a 10 per cent stake in their Boston-based company to RedBird Capital Partners was a reaction to the challenging times. That deal ensures Liverpool will be run in the same manner as throughout FSG’s tenure, and there will be no adverse changes in current transfer policy. The club has always adopted a self-sufficient model. But inevitably, the financial dividend and status that being in the Champions League brings opens more opportunities, especially when it comes to player recruitment. Klopp said recently he has no interest in those who state that as a condition of moving to Liverpool. That does not alter the fact that for many players at clubs already established in the competition, it has always been a deciding factor when they have a career choice. Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s owners in no rush to dismantle what they have built Liverpool currently trail fourth placed West Ham by three points with seven Premier League games remaining, with third-placed Leicester a point further adrift, having been ten points clear of Klopp’s side at the start of April. Klopp led the club back into the Champions League in 2017 after Liverpool last dropped out of the competition in 2015, when a poor campaign under Brendan Rodgers cost him his job soon after. Before that the club had waited four years to get back into the competition, after which it became clear that Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr’s hopes of refinancing mounting club debts had been heavily reliant on the promised Uefa earnings. They were forced to sell Liverpool to FSG by creditors the Royal Bank of Scotland within a matter of months. There is no possibility of those scenarios being repeated under the current owners. While there will be frustration and disappointment that a season which promised more will not end in silverware, they will have cause to celebrate if Klopp can lead a late recovery into the top four.

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