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By ESPN Staff

Arsenal top earners with £52m

Arsenal's run to the Champions League final saw them eclipse Chelsea in earnings last season.

The Gunners earned £52.7million in prize money and TV cash from all competitions, well above their rivals Chelsea (£47.5m), Liverpool (£43.2m) and Manchester United (£39.9m).

Almost half Arsenal's income came from the Champions League - victory over Barcelona in the final would bring in a further £2million - and explains Tottenham's desperate efforts this week to qualify for Europe's elite club competition.

Spurs, the highest-placed club not involved in the Champions League, earned £26.2million, less than half the sum their north London rivals pulled in.

Henk Potts, a football finance analyst with Barclays stockbrokers, said: 'The Champions League is the cash cow of modern football and it is so important to the leading clubs to be part of it.

'It is not just the TV and prize money, though that is very lucrative in itself, but it is vital in terms of a club's profile, merchandising and desirability for sponsors.

'That's why it was so important for Arsenal to be in the Champions League next season, having spent so much money on a new stadium - and why Tottenham have been going to such lengths to try to get there themselves.'

Manchester United's second successive disappointing season in the Champions League saw their earnings drop to under £40million - compared to £54million two years ago. They will still outperform their rivals in terms of income from gate receipts, other match-day income and merchandise but the figures will give the Glazer family some food for thought.

Liverpool's run to the FA Cup, and qualifying for the Champions League knockout phase, enabled them to earn more than United, while Middlesbrough's success in cup competitions brought in an extra £5million.

Potts says the new Premier League TV deal for 2007-10 will see around a 65% increase in Premiership TV money for every club - but that the Champions League should retain its importance to the top clubs.

He added: 'Every Premier League club will get more TV money but the value of the Champions League is likely to go up as well.

'It is quite hard to understand what the European Commission were doing in relation to the Premier League TV deal. They have not helped the broadcasters, have not helped the consumers and will just have helped the clubs become even richer.'