Saint Petersburg loses a fortune without the Champions League final

Photo: OLGA MALTSEVA/Getty Images

The war in Ukraine leaves St. Petersburg without the Champions League final, which has been transferred to Saint-Denis by UEFA. The change means an impact between $68 and $78 million dollars in the city of birth of Vladimir Putin, an important economic injection that will no longer be paid for hosting the biggest match of the year at club level.

The decision of the Executive Committee of the UEFA, known this same Friday, of moving the grand finale from the St. Petersburg Arena to the Saint-Denis stadium in Paris It is due to “the serious escalation of the security situation in Europe”, according to the statement from the highest body of European football, which also decided that the Russian and Ukrainian national teams will play their home games at neutral venues.

A blow to St. Petersburg that was preparing to organize the first post-pandemic Champions League final. The last one that was played in a normal situation, that of 2019 in Madrid, left an economic impact on the city of $70 million dollars, as confirmed to Efe Miguel Garrido, president of the Madrid employers association CEIM.

In total, hosting the Champions League final that faced the English Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitano generated about $138 million dollars in the Spanish capital.

“Holding events of this caliber is very beneficial for cities, and It affects many sectors such as leisure, restaurants, transport and entertainment”Garrido said. He noted that revenues have improved over the years, as in 2010, when Inter Milan and Bayern Munich they played at the Santiago Bernabéu, Some $56 million dollars were raised.

“It is not only the economic repercussion, but also the advertising of the city itself. The Madrid brand reached 350 million people thanks to the Champions League final”, indicated Garrido.

St. Petersburgwhich has already hosted matches of the Confederations Cup, the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Euro 2020, will be left with the honey on the lips of receiving the economic boost that Madrid already hadthat Lisbon could not receive in 2020, with the games played behind closed doors, and that Porto sighted, with a final mid-inning with the pandemic still hitting.

It was going to be the big event at the club level of the St. Petersburg Arena, a very expensive stadium, whose construction took more than a decade. More than ten years have passed since the first stone was laid in 2007 until it was inaugurated.

About $800 million dollars were invested to finish itand its construction was carried out with the doubts and uncertainty where the funds came from as the workforce in charge of raising the Zenit temple.

A pharaonic project that led to one of the most modern stadiums in the country, with a capacity for 70,000 spectators, a retractable roof and located on an island bathed by the Neva River.

Its commercial name, Gazprom Arena, stems from the sponsorship that unites Gazprom, the gas company, with Zenit Saint Petersburg, the team that plays its matches in this stadium.

Russia’s biggest company not only pumps money into Zenit, but also sponsors the Champions League, with a deal that, according to the Financial Times, gives some 40 million pounds (46 million euros) to the competition each season.

With the breakup of Schalke 04, which will remove Gazprom’s advertising from its shirts, giving up nine million a year, the Russian company sees how the domino of companies that distances itself from them begins to fall, and has already subtracted the final of the Champions.

UEFA broadcast the announcements that include Gazprom in all four round of 16 matches, raising the sound of wind in some stadiums. Publicity for “Road to St. Petersburg” was also not lacking at Stamford Bridge or the Wanda Metropolitano, despite the fact that the football institution already knew that it was going to be almost impossible to continue with the plans to celebrate the match for the ‘orejona’ in the old Leningrad.

If Istanbul already had to pass the baton in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, to Lisbon and Porto respectively, now it has been Saint Petersburg that has lost the grand final, which has fallen to Paris. Although in this case the reason is very different: war.