The Premier League clash between Arsenal and Liverpool on Saturday just got quite a bit more important, not to mention Manchester United's recent upturn in form.
It has become far more important because, as the Daily Mail have reported, the sums of money involved for qualifying for the Champions League have taken a significant jump, and so missing out is going to be a whole lot more painful.
It is particularly pertinent for Brendan Rodgers, as the Anfield club travel to Emirates Stadium on Saturday knowing a defeat will leave them nine points behind the Gunners and leave them with a lot to do to have any chance of breaching the top four.
Added to this, Manchester United playing struggling Aston Villa on the same day and win for the Red Devils will alongside a Liverpool defeat will leave Rodgers' men nine points off the Champions League places.
This is no insignificant jump either, the prize money for getting to the group stages has been raised by 40 per cent by UEFA. This season getting there won a club €8.6million and next season will be worth €12million.
Meanwhile, a win in the groups stages has become 50 per cent more valuable, with the reward jumping from €1milllion to €1.5million. Getting out of the groups and into the last 16 is now worth €5.5million, up from €3.5milllion.
Money for getting into the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final have all gone up; €3,9m to €6m, €4.9m to €7m, €6.5m to €10.5m. The prize for winning in the final has jumped from €10.5m to €15m - so a victorious run to the final could land a side as much as €100million, when you take into account the increase in 'market pool' money from TV incomes.
Form Found At The Right Time
Louis van Gaal's side brushing aside Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in their last two Premier League fixtures were not only important in terms of the level of performance, but also for opening up a gap between them and two of their closest rivals for Champions League football.
Arsenal vs Liverpool is always a big game, but UEFA's decision to make their premier club competition even more lucrative has made it about 50 per cent bigger.
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