Madrid final gets cash boost from Saturday fever

By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) - The Champions League final in Madrid will provide a 351.5 million-euro ($440 million) windfall to the battered European economy, as more fans are traveling to the buzzing Spanish city for the Saturday showdown.

According to a study commissioned by MasterCard, one of the sponsors of the competition, more than 120,000 people will descend on Madrid despite the downturn for the first Champions League final to be played on a Saturday evening.

The uncertainty about the winner of the eagerly-anticipated clash between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, both vying for a treble having won their domestic doubles, is also spicing up the atmosphere, the report said.

"In difficult economic times, this kind of event provides people with a chance to escape from reality," Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University in England, who conducted the study, told Reuters.

"In addition to that, we will see more traveling fans and one of the reasons is the rescheduling of the game from Wednesday to Saturday evening, when people can move more easily," he said.

Last year's final between Manchester United and eventual winners Barcelona in Rome generated 313 million euros of total revenues.

The winner of Saturday's match will pocket more than 120 million euros through increased squad value, season ticket sales, prize money, sponsorship deals and television rights, the study said. The loser may earn 70 million euros.


The Spanish capital is also set to receive an economic boost of 50 million euros, slightly higher than Rome last year.

"The hotels will have an extremely high occupation rate," Jaime Lissavetzky, Spain's secretary of state for sport, told Reuters on Friday.

"Some Italian acquaintances of mine even asked me for help to find a room," he added in an interview.

"The economic benefits for the city will be huge but I also believe that it's good for the image of Madrid and of Spain."

Around 170 million fans are expected to tune in to watch on television, eclipsing the audiences of last year's final and of the Superbowl.

Bayern Munich and Inter Milan have two completely different business models, according to German consultancy group Sport+Markt.

The Italian side draws 60 percent of its total revenue from TV rights, while the Bavarians get 54 percent of their turnover from sponsors and marketing, the firm said in a study.

(Additional reporting by Mark Meadows and Iain Rogers; Editing by Alison Wildey and Pritha Sarkar)