How much money Man Utd lost out on by failing to top their Europa League group

A look at what Manchester United missed out on by finishing second in their Europa League group.

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Manchester United couldn’t secure top spot in their Europa League group on Thursday night despite defeating Real Sociedad.

Alejandro Gamacho scored the winner in San Sebastian as United neutralised the head-to-head advantage Real Sociedad built up with their win at Old Trafford a few weeks ago. But Erik ten Hag’s men couldn’t extend their lead in a lacklustre second half, and they paid the price, missing out on top spot on goal difference.

The main difference in finishing top of the group and second in Europa League is that runners-up must play an extra round, including two more games. Group winners progress straight to the Round of 16, while runners-up must take part in a play-off round, where they face one of the teams dropping out of the Champions League by way of finishing third in their group.

The winner of those play-off games then progress to face one of the group winners in the Round of 16, but there is also a financial aspect.

Group winners are awarded a prize of £951,819 plus a further prize of £1.03million for reaching the Round of 16, totalling just over £1.98million, while runners-up get £475,832 with a further prize of £432,575 for reaching the play-off round, totalling £908,407.

That means United will earn £1.07million less than Real Sociedad after finishing second, but there is hope of earning more money.

That’s because teams who win in the play-off round receive £1.03million for progressing to the Round of 16, meaning United can earn up to £2.1million for finishing second then winning in the play-off round, reaching the Round of 16.

It is easier said than done, though, and in an already compact season, there is a big benefit to having to play two less games.

Interestingly, in last season’s play-off round, five of the eight ties were won by the teams who dropped out of the Champions League, with only three of the Europa League group runners-up progressing to the Round of 16. United will have to buck the trend if they want to progress and secure that extra money they have missed out on by finishing second.