Liverpool soar past £500m mark and it all started 22 years ago – Liverpool Echo

Liverpool played their first Champions League group game against Boavista in 2001 – transforming their finances in the years that followed
Liverpool are without Champions League football this season for the first time since 2015/16, with last season's fifth-placed finish meaning that a place in the much less lucrative Europa League awaits the Reds this time around.
Prior to this season, Liverpool had made six consecutive appearances in European club football's top tier knockout competition, winning the tournament in 2019 in Madrid with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur having been beaten finalists 12 months prior.
In 22 years they have featured in Europe's elite competition 15 times, also winning it so famously back in 2005 in Istanbul against AC Milan, and Liverpool's storied European history, which includes four European Cup wins before it was rebranded and revamped as the Champions League in 1992, has been added to.
But throughout the 1990s the Reds were missing from European club football's biggest stage as they struggled to recapture their dominance of the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it would be 16 years until Liverpool would regain their place among the elite, with Gerard Houllier leading the Reds into their first campaign in the new-look Champions League in 2001.
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It started with a rather routine two-legged success over Finnish minnows FC Haka, which ended 9-1 on aggregate, enough to punch Liverpool's ticket to the group stage where they would line up against Boavista, Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv.
It's 22 years to the day since Liverpool finally returned to the biggest stage in earnest, although a mood that should have been one of great jubilation was a sombre affair on September 11, 2001, as terrorist atrocities in New York brought the world to a standstill.
The clash with Portuguese outfit Boavista ended 1-1, Michael Owen 's 29th-minute goal cancelling out a third-minute opener from Brazilian striker Silva, but progression would be achieved with three wins and three draws, the Reds progressing from the second group stage, as was in place then, before being beaten in the quarter finals over two legs by Bayer Leverkusen.
Since their return more than two decades ago, the Champions League has become increasingly important to Liverpool's financial success.
When the Champions League began the prize pot shared among clubs was a little over £20m in the 1992/93 season. It now stands at over £2bn as broadcast revenues and commercial partners have bumped up the money to astronomical levels that has played a part in a ballooning wage and transfer market.
The strip sees Liverpool wear purple for the first time since the 2018/19 season. Following on from the iconic Red and remake of a 1996/96 classic, the third kit features a purple ripple pattern with black sleeve cuffs, collarbone inserts, side panelling with matching shorts and purple rippple socks.
Prices start at £44.95
Champions League qualification is of huge significance, with the Reds earning £113m from it during their winning campaign in the competition in 2019. By qualifying for the competition, and not including the prize money for wins and draws, or assuming qualification beyond the group stages, simply appearing in the group stage and being able to claim the broadcasting rights, market pool and co-efficient payments that go along with it would be worth £58m to Liverpool.
For Liverpool it has been a money-spinner since their return to the competition, and the Reds have brought in more than £500m in prize money since. It is estimated that over £17bn has been handed out in prize money since the competition's revamp in 1992, meaning the Reds have taken around 2.5 per cent of the overall prize money despite having been absent from the competition for the first nine years of its existence.
Real Madrid lead the way, with more than £800m having been accrued through their Champions League successes that have included seven wins since 1992.
*A version of this story was first published in September 2021.


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