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UEFA Women's Champions League: Financial distribution model central to European game's drive for sustainability

UEFA has approved a new financial distribution model for the 2021-25 cycle of its Women’s Champions League. We explain why this will pave the way to a more sustainable future for the entire women’s game.

 Lyon lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in 2020
Lyon lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in 2020 Getty Images

Why is the new financial distribution model for the UEFA Women’s Champions League so important for the long-term future of the women’s game?

Introduced for the 2021-25 cycle of the competition, UEFA’s financial distribution model will help ensure the long-term sustainability of European women’s football by:

  • significantly increasing the size of rewards for every club competing in the competition.
  • for the first time, making ‘solidarity’ payments to all top division clubs of UEFA national associations entering teams into the Women’s Champions League. These payments must be reinvested for development purposes.

How much does UEFA expect the Women’s Champions League to redistribute to European professional clubs?

From the start of the 2021/22 season, UEFA projects that the world’s biggest women’s club competition will redistribute a total €24 million - more than four times greater than the current figure - either as rewards to competing clubs or as ‘solidarity payments’ to non-competing clubs.

  • Every club that qualifies for the competition will benefit from the increased rewards available, whatever stage they reach. For example, according to initial estimates, each club taking part in the group stage will receive a minimum reward of €400,000 – approximately five times more than before in the Round of 16. The winner stands to earn up to €1.4 million
  • The ‘solidarity payments’ are expected to account for almost a quarter (23%, equivalent to €5.6 million) of the total amount available for redistribution. The amount allocated to each domestic league will be calculated according to the highest-performing clubs representing their respective leagues in the Women’s Champions League.

How is UEFA funding the increased distribution payments?

Watch the top five UEFA Women's Champions League goals of the 2019/20 season
Watch the top five UEFA Women's Champions League goals of the 2019/20 season

In 2019, UEFA announced far-reaching changes to the Women’s Champions League to raise its visibility, enhance the competitive balance and improve its appeal to sponsors, broadcasters and, above-all, the general public.

Among several innovations, the competition’s sponsorship and media rights were centralised from the group stage onwards. This decision is already generating significantly increased revenue for redistribution.

Thanks to the support of the European Club Association (ECA) and men’s clubs, the new financial distribution model can also draw on the first ever cross-subsidy from UEFA men’s club competitions to support the women’s game.

As of the start of the 2021/22 European football season in July, UEFA investment and ticketing sales for the Women’s Champions’ League final will also fund the total amount available for distribution.

When did UEFA introduce the new financial distribution model?

UEFA’s Executive Committee agreed to the new financial distribution model at a meeting in Montreux on 19 April 2021 – part of its approval of a new regulatory framework for the Women’s Champions League

The model, which comes into effect on 1 May 2021, was designed by a dedicated UEFA Women’s Champions League regulatory framework working group composed of European clubs, leagues, national associations and the ECA and overseen by the UEFA Women’s Football Committee.

In what other ways does the new regulatory framework for the Women’s Champions League support the development of the female professional game?

UEFA has taken steps to adapt its competition regulations to better protect female professional players, as well as to promote the development of European talent.

  • Welfare: the regulations will now safeguard the welfare of pregnant players and those that become mothers. From the start of the 2021/22 season, participating clubs will have the flexibility to alter their squad lists at any time during the season in order to temporarily replace players, either because they are pregnant, or because they leave for or return from maternity leave.
  • Player development: The development of talented youth players is now central to competition regulations. The introduction of a B-List will allow clubs to supplement squad lists by including young players who meet specific criteria. Furthermore, from the 2022/23 season, UEFA plans to introduce a ‘locally trained player’ rule to nurture the growth of European homegrown talent.

How else will the revamped competition set new standards for professional women’s football?

The video assistant referee (VAR), previously only deployed for the final, will be used for all matches in the knockout stage.

How exactly will the format of the Women’s Champions League change for the 2021/22 season?

The new Women’s Champions League format explained
The new Women’s Champions League format explained

The new format will replace the current round of 16 with a group stage. The two preceding qualifying rounds will be split into a champions path and a league path.

Learn more about the new UWCL format

Why has UEFA revamped the Women’s Champions League for the 2021-25 cycle?

Raising the status of UEFA’s women competitions and increasing their visibility and commercial value are both key goals of UEFA’s 2019-24 strategy for women’s football, Time for Action.

The revised Women’s Champions League format will help ensure more competitive matches, as well as guarantee the participation of at least ten national associations in the group stage. Competition finals will also be staged at prestigious European venues, starting with the Juventus Stadium in Turin in 2022.

Centralised marketing and television coverage will also significantly increase the global value and visibility of the Women’s Champions League, setting a new benchmark for international women’s club football.

Read a Q&A with Nadine Kessler on the new format