For Paris Saint-Germain, it has become a crushing and familiar story: suffering an early exit from the tournament that matters more to them than any other.
The French giants’ Champions League hopes are over for another season, a 3-0 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich meaning one of the world’s wealthiest clubs can no longer call themselves the kings of football. ‘Europe.
Wednesday’s defeat may not have been the emotional punch of previous outings – think 2017, when Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit by beating PSG 6-1 at Camp Nou, or even last year when PSG were 2-0 on aggregate with Real Madrid half an hour left to concede three goals in 17 minutes for Karim Benzema.
But the impact will still be felt hard. Here, Athleticism examines the possible effects on and off the pitch.
How much is the Champions League prize money worth?
A club entering the Champions League group stage receives €15.64m (£13.9m; $16.4m). They then receive €2.8 million per group stage win and €930,000 for a draw.
PSG won four times and drew twice as they qualified for the round of 16, earning 13 million euros. Qualification for the next stage brought them 9.6 million euros. So even before a ball was kicked against Bayern Munich, PSG had racked up 38.3 million euros in prize money.
But it could have been so much more. Qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals nets a €10.6m bonus, a place in the semi-finals is worth an additional €12.5m and reaching the final provides a €15.5m injection millions of euros. The club that wins the tournament can expect to receive a bonus of 4.5 million euros.
That’s not all. A place in the UEFA Super Cup – a match between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League – is worth 3.5 million euros. If you win the Super Cup, the bonus is €1 million, while winning the FIFA Club World Cup (a tournament contested between the various continental champions) nets €4.6 million.
In total, it is a potential of 52.2 million euros that PSG missed in price alone.
Is it really too much for a club like PSG?
Well no. As they are owned by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), a subsidiary of the state-run sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, missing out on that kind of money ultimately doesn’t make a big dent in the club’s finances.
It would, however, have been helpful from a Financial Fair Play (FFP) perspective.
PSG had to pay 20 million euros to UEFA in 2014 during the first round of FFP deals with UEFA, and in September it was ruled that they had breached a balance agreement between 2018 and 2022.
They were ordered to pay an unconditional €10 million – either directly or through revenue from their participation in UEFA’s club competition – with €55 million contingent on meeting future three-year targets.
It is therefore not the largest sums, but every little gesture counts.
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Where is the cost then?
Mainly, in reputation. A team laden with star names are bound to reach the last eight of the Champions League, but it’s becoming an increasingly familiar story.
Since the 2012-13 season, PSG have only reached the semi-finals twice and the final once (2019-20). Tonight’s round of 16 exit is the fifth time they’ve gone ahead of the quarter-finals in the past seven years.
PSG powerbrokers know that it is only by winning Europe’s elite club competition that their grand sporting project will truly see its sporting ambitions realized, despite the presence of big names such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi having already taken the club to a new level in follow-up conditions.
After the World Cup, where Mbappe and Messi dominated a France-Argentina final and Achraf Hakimi helped Morocco reach the semi-final, it was hoped that the second half of PSG’s season would be memorable.
Instead, they cracked again when the pressure was applied. Whatever follows – including, in all likelihood, a ninth Ligue 1 title in 11 years – will be cold comfort.
What shall we do now?
Attention will likely turn to their head coach, Christophe Galtier, and Luis Campos, their football adviser who appointed Galtier after Mauricio Pochettino left last July.
Mbappe, whose contract expires in 2025 after signing a new three-year deal last summer, will want to cement his status as the best player in the world. You can already tell he’s ahead of any of his rivals, but the Champions League will elude him for at least another season.
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The good news for PSG is that after losing the first leg in February, Mbappe has made it clear that his future at the club is not tied to success in Europe.
“If I had tied my future to the Champions League, no disrespect to the club, I would have been long gone,” said the 24-year-old. “I don’t think this game will have an impact. I am here and I am very happy to be here.
“I can’t think of anything other than the success of PSG.”
The cushion of his contract and the recent remarks he has made will be a tonic for those inside the club, but continued failures in Europe will only hasten his departure.
Messi is reaching the final stages of his career and there is still uncertainty surrounding his future. His contract expires this summer, although he is ready to extend his stay in the French capital.
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No team has the divine right to win the tournament, but such an expensively assembled team – even though several of the players were signed as free agents – from a salary standpoint shouldn’t be eliminated without a whimper. .
(Top photo: Alex Grimm/Getty Images)