While Chelsea is fighting for its footballing life, trying to hang on to a top four spot, the consequences of missing out are far bigger than expected.

Chelsea’s crushing loss to Sheffield United was technically no more detrimental than any of the other 10 losses this season. They all cost the Blues three points. The difference is that these final games are now absolutely essential to Chelsea’s hopes of achieving a top four—or five—finish in the Premier League to secure UEFA Champions League football in 2020/21. The implications of missing out are no secret, but the negative impact will be devastating to the club’s future.

First, Chelsea will lose the financial benefit that mere UCL qualification brings. For 2020, qualification brought €15.250 million and reaching the Round of 16 provided Chelsea with another €9.5 million. That totals just under €25 million, the most the Blues are likely to earn in light of their difficult situation against Bayern Munich. In a season where revenues from fan attendance were devastated by the pandemic, this windfall is very important.

Since next season will also be impacted in some way by the pandemic aftermath, having access to that cash, anywhere from €10 to 25 million, by qualifying is no chump change. Loss of that revenue will just add to whatever other financial issues the team may encounter.  And it will have other implications both on and off-the-pitch, as well. One of these is the prestige of being recognized as one of Europe’s top teams.

Mere participation puts the club in a rare group. Advancement to the Round of 16 provides even more validation and additional success just continues the prestige. That exposure also helps attract new fans and ancillary financial benefits; such as shirt sales and any number of other off-the-pitch revenue enhancements. In short, being a part of the UCL is prestige, money and power in European—and to some extent—world football. It’s an all-around positive achievement.

Another major implication that could impact future qualification is the club’s ability to attract top talent due to of Champions League qualification. Top football talents certainly want a move to a new club in Europe to be accompanied by participation in the UCL. For some, it is an absolute requirement of signing with the club. Chelsea has been very fortunate to-date in having signed two top talents prior to their positively achieving UCL participation for 2020/21. These, of course, are top players Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.

This is a very fortuitous situation for Chelsea as its prospects for UCL qualification have now gone from very likely to questionable as a result of the hugely significant loss to Sheffield United. Rumors abound that another massive transfer of one of Europe’s top young attacking talents, Kai Havertz, who may be on Chelsea’s’ radar may rest on just that fact. The clear implication is: no UCL, no transfer. Continue reading

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