A Global Sport With Global Business Impact

Money, it’s a gas

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

New car, caviar, four-star daydream

Think I’ll buy me a football team

— Pink Floyd

Soccer is a global phenomenon and it is the one sport that transcends national, cultural, religious, and gender boundaries; and socio-economic groups. More people watch soccer than any other sport in the world, over 3 billion followers, and the FIFA World Cup is the world's most widely viewed sports event — over one billion viewers for the 2014 tournament. And, soccer is also the sport played most consistently across the globe with over 265 million players participating in the game! 

Soccer's appeal continues to attract an ever-expanding audience and the game’s followers are amongst the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Today soccer is a big global business!

The Teams. Money is everywhere with millions of dollars changing hands every week between clubs, players, fans, sponsors and broadcast companies. In recent years, clubs have scored richer television/sponsorship deals and today the twenty most valuable teams in the world are worth an average of $1.16 billion - 84% higher than five years ago. Real Madrid is the most valuable team with an estimated value of $3.26 billion. Barcelona ($3.16 billion) landed in the number two spot and Manchester United are third with an estimated worth of $3.1 billion.

The Brand. During the last decade, soccer clubs have transformed themselves into modern sports/media companies. Top clubs have implemented marketing strategies aimed at strengthening the value of their brands by exploiting sponsorships; merchandise sales, and the commercialization of television rights. This approach has transformed soccer into one of the world’s most profitable entertainment businesses. 

Manchester United’s brand value recently surpassed $1.2 billion (a 63% increase since 2014) and the club’s global following has grown to over half a billion fans. This tremendous fan base, combined with incredible TV exposure for the MU brand, has attracted enormous commercial deals including an $80 million shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet and a record-breaking kit deal with Adidas, worth $1.14 billion to MU over 10 years. 

And, it is not just the club’s that are benefiting from this increased popularity. FIFA, who serve as the international governing body of soccer, generates annual revenues of $12.6 billion and its brand is worth approximately $2.8 billion. 

The Jerseys. Team jerseys provide two revenue streams – deals with manufacturers that make the jerseys and sponsorship agreements with companies that advertise on them. Revenues from jerseys alone are worth $90 million a year to Real Madrid and Manchester United; and $50 million to the other leading Premier League clubs. Replica shirt sales are central to the commercial activities of most clubs and represent around 50% of all merchandising revenue. 

The Licensing. In recent years, licensing programs for FIFA and the major soccer leagues have all grown, as fans seek to wear their colors with pride and express their love for their club and/or nation through a variety of product opportunities. 

The World Cup in Brazil was a huge sporting and commercial success generating revenues of $4,826 million for FIFA and licensing income of $107 million. 

In 2014, The English Football Association, which includes licensing properties for the England national team saw licensing revenues increase to $228M and Major League Soccer also saw a dramatic growth in revenues to $420M. Given the growing popularity of soccer in the USA it won’t be too long before MLS gets close to the licensing revenues of the MLB, NFL and NBA. 

The Players. Finally, we can’t forget the players! Fifteen players featured on the recent Forbes Highest Paid Athletes list with Cristiano Ronaldo coming in at #3. CR earned $79.6 million in salary and endorsements in 2014 with Lionel Messi right behind him with $73.8 million. Personal branding is a major opportunity for top players and many make a fortune from these endorsement activities. Ronaldo earns $50+ million a year in salary and then makes over $27 million in endorsements!

The Money. The bottom line is that soccer makes the world go ’round.

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