Report: Inter cuts Champions League prize money gap

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MILAN (Reuters) -- Champions League holders Inter Milan closed their gap with dominant English soccer clubs as the biggest money prize earners in the last seven Champions League seasons, a study showed on Monday.

In a report released exclusively to Reuters outside Italy, sports business consultancy group StageUp estimated European soccer's governing body UEFA distributed 746.4 million euros ($954.9 million) to the 32 clubs competing in the world's most lucrative club soccer tournament last season.

Treble winners Inter Milan jumped to the fourth place from eighth, with a total of 174.5 million euros earned in seven competitions. English Premier League's Arsenal were third.

Last season's runners-up Bayern Munich climbed two spots to seventh in the ranking, with 165.8 million euros earned in six competitions.

Manchester United, who lost to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals last year, overtook Chelsea at the top, with 216 million euros.

Barcelona, who were denied a second straight win when they lost out in last season's semi-finals to Jose Mourinho's Inter, were sixth, behind French club Olympique Lyon who have played one competition more.

UEFA has distributed 3.7 billion euros to 79 clubs competing over the last seven years, according to StageUp estimates.

Approximately half of the Champions League's total prize money is distributed on the basis of television market share, while the other half is awarded as fixed sums on results.

Clubs earn extra money from ticket sales and merchandise.