When the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League draws were made in August, there were mixed feelings among clubs and fans on how their clubs would perform. Some groups had the ‘ the group of death tag, and some had what was said to be ‘ an easy group ’ for themselves. In group B, there was Bayern Leverkusen, FC Porto, Atletico de Madrid & Club Brugge.
No disrespect to Club Brugge, their hopes of making it out of the group would have been so minute, but after four match days, Club Brugge surprisingly sealed qualification to the competition’s Knockout stages.
Club Brugge made one of the biggest surprise stories of the UEFA Champions League group stage when they drew away at Atletico Madrid on Match Day 4. It guaranteed the Belgians a historic knockout stage berth.
Club Brugge became the second club from Belgium to reach the UCL knockout phase after KAA Gent in 2015-16.
The Belgium side making it to the round of 16 means more money for themselves from the competition and that would be a huge addition to their financial status.
How did they achieve this feat
After another successful season in which they won a third consecutive Belgian Pro League title, Club Brugge was once again on the hunt for a new permanent manager. After Phillipe Clement left to join AS Monaco at the beginning of the year, the club brought in Alfred Schreuder for the second half of the 2021/22 season. The Dutchman was a success, leading the club to the title, but he was offered the Ajax job in the summer, which proved too good of an opportunity to turn down.
After a short search, the club decided to promote within, handing the reins of affairs over to former player Carl Hoefkens. The Belgian had been a youth coach for the club for a few seasons prior, primarily working with the U18 and U21 teams. He also was regularly involved with the first team, working as an assistant coach under both Clement and Schreuder.
The protege has now set history for the club. Club Brugge lost only one game in a group that contained such heavyweights, and won three, with two draws in the mix.
What it means for Nigeria’s Raphael Onyedika
On 28 August 2022, Onyedika signed a five-year contract with Club Brugge, joining FC Midtjylland.
Onyedika has been so influential with the team this season and his impact on the team’s UCL success so far has been great and huge. For one who recently started his senior career playing on such a big stage, it does mean a lot to him at the age of 21.
Even some of the greatest Nigerian stars adored and hugely praised for their achievement with Nigeria can’t boast of playing in the UEFA Champions League Group stages, let alone getting into the Round of 16, so this one is huge and mighty for Raph.
Asides from making it into that stage, this definitely raises his value and puts more spotlight on him.
The financial rewards of reaching the round of 16
UEFA, in their information on how funds would be distributed for this season’s UCL, stated that each of the 32 clubs that qualify for the group stage can expect to receive a group stage allocation of €15.64m, split into a down payment of €14.8m and a balance of €840,000.
Group stage performance bonuses will be paid for each match: €2.8m per win and €930,000 per draw. Undistributed amounts (€930,000 per draw) will be pooled and redistributed among the clubs playing in the group stage in amounts proportional to their number of wins.
Reaching the round of 16 earns an additional €9.6m, qualification for the quarter-finals: €10.6m per club; − qualification for the semi-finals: €12.5m per club; − qualification for the final: €15.5m per club.
The UCL winners can expect to receive an additional €4.5m. The two clubs that qualify for the 2022 SCUP can each expect to receive €3.5m, with the winners receiving an additional €1m.
This means that Club Brugge right now has made about €35.5m from the 2022-23 UCL season.
Group Stage Qualification – €15.64m
Three Group Stage games win – €8.4m.
Two Draws in the group stage – €1.86m.
Reaching the Round of 16 – €9.6m
For Onyedika and Club Brugge, the impossible has been achieved. They were put in a group with a two-time Champions League winner and two other previous finalists and went through with two games to spare.
All eyes will turn to the Last 16 and who they’ll face in the knockout stage. Many will expect their journey to end there. But then again, no one saw them coming this far, especially not European football’s bean counters.