Advancing in Champions League a financial must

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Dino Panato/Getty ImagesAs much as Saturday's loss hurt Mario Balotelli and Milan, failure to reach the Champions League group stage would be almost catastrophic.

When asked about the impact Milan's loss to Verona Saturday would have on preparations for Wednesday's Champions League match with PSV, midfielder Andrea Poli said it was "lucky" they had another big game straight away which would allow them to get back on track immediately.

The disappointment of defeat in the Serie A opener still lingers, but it is imperative that the Rossoneri quickly move on, as a repeat of Saturday's performance would be catastrophic as the score is tied at 1 going into the second leg of the PSV tie. Aside from the potential absence of Champions League football at San Siro this year, the financial aspects are intrinsically linked with Milan’s transfer market and club model.

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Over the past two years the club has made a conscious effort to become more sustainable, with a view of ultimately becoming a profitable business. The wage bill has been significantly reduced while the transfer strategy has been altered in order to lower expenditure.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reported last week on how the Champions League is the "natural habitat" of Milan since Silvio Berlusconi took control of the club. However, while it is still important for the supporters and players alike to take part in the competition, it means something more than just the prestige now.

Milan's owner handed Adriano Galliani the task of putting a stop to annual lossesand become self-sufficient with the added pressure of the parameters of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Champions League now not only represents the obvious opportunity of silverware and recognition in Europe, but it has almost become essential for Milan financially.

Gazzetta’s research suggests that the Rossoneri would receive 8.6 million euros for merely reaching the group stages of the tournament, with additional payments dependent on results thereafter. The huge earning potential from the TV rights in Italy means that Milan could realistically receive almost 20 million euros depending on how far they were to progress.

Combined with earnings from sponsorship deals, the potential total goes well beyond 30 million euros, with Milan receiving 51.4 million euros last year in slightly deceiving circumstances given the Italian TV money was shared only between themselves and Juventus.

Meanwhile, Milan recorded a loss of just 7 million euros at the end of the last financial year, which essentially means that if they were to qualify for the Champions League, they would be well on the way toward running at a profit this cycle. However, as was the warning in the pink paper last week, without the Champions League the Rossoneri would potentially have to “start all over again”.

There are also other aspects to consider -- which Galliani has emphasised the importance of in the past -- in that if Milan qualify for the group stages then the Primavera side will be able to play in the new UEFA Youth League.

Furthermore, with supporters and critics calling for new signings before the deadline, additional funds would surely allow Galliani to move in the market and bring in targets such as Adem Ljajic or Keisuke Honda.

If it wasn’t already, it is clear that there is so much at stake at the San Siro on Wednesday night. Milan can ill afford a slow start, and the hope is that they will come through unscathed.

From all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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