Rome final to cash in on downturn

MILAN - The Champions League final will generate an increased boost of 310 million euro for the European economy this year, as more people are looking for fun amid the slowdown.

According to a study commissioned by MasterCard, one of the sponsors of the Champions League, a new community of supporters and organisations will enjoy their first dream final on Wednesday in Rome, contributing to the overall income.

"People are looking to divert tension away on such a special occasion," Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University in England, who conducted the study, told Reuters.

"What comes into play is a 'recession premium' worth around 25 million euro to the overall total from more people engaging as a result of the downturn".

Last year's final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow provided 267 million euro of total revenues.

The winner of Wednesday's final between United and Barcelona will also benefit by a windfall of more than 110 million euros through increased squad value, prize money, sponsorship deals, television rights and season ticket sales, the study said.

The loser may also pocket at least 65 million euro.

Due to its more central location in Europe, the Italian capital is also expected to receive an economic boost of 45 million euro, slightly higher than Moscow last year.

Athens was believed to have generated 26 million euros from staging the event in 2007. Following the final, the winning club's city will benefit by around 15 million euros through a longer-term enhanced city image, increased tourism and better consumer confidence.


"The UEFA Champions League final proves that sport's mega-events can overcome the downturn, thanks to their huge emotional appeal," Chadwick explained.

With each team being allocated about 20,000 tickets, at least 50,000 paying supporters are expected in Rome for the sold-out showdown.

Fans unwilling or unable to travel to Rome will generate economic activity at home.

Manchester United and Barcelona have more than 80 million supporters across Europe, while in Italy almost half the population will show an interest in the event, according to German consultancy group Sport+Markt.