Manchester United’s surprise swoop for former golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the biggest stories of a hectic transfer window.
By rejecting a possible switch to arch-rivals Manchester City, the 36-year-old instead sealed a dream reunion with his ever-devoted United fanbase.
And, while Reds’ fans prepare themselves for their prodigal son’s return to the Old Trafford turf, financial analysts are predicting an equally seismic impact off the pitch.
As covered by The Daily Mail, it is predicted that Ronaldo’s huge social media pull could result in a major upswing in the club’s commercial appeal.
Football finance expert Dr Rob Wilson says: “You have here a match made in heaven…Commercially, Manchester United did big deals 10 to 12 years ago and they are beginning to expire. Of course, they don’t have a training ground sponsor currently…
“What we will see [now] is a training ground partner will be signed up and they will sign a couple of other deals. I think they will accelerate those conversations because of the appeal that Ronaldo brings.”
Such is Ronaldo’s popularity – he has 261 million followers on Instagram alone – that Wilson believes the Red Devils could recoup his £20m transfer fee and £385k p/w wages within 12 months.
“If they lift a trophy there are all the ingredients for another period of domination. The transfer fee, the add on and his wages should be more than covered by some of the commercial activity they will be able to generate over the next 12 months.
“You could see United earning £30m plus this season through additional commercial arrangements.’
Indeed, the Ronaldo effect has already resulted in an immediate financial boost for the Glazers, with the club’s share value rocketing by almost 10% following the news of his impending transfer.
It’s said that the signing might even offset anxiety about football’s waning appeal among younger demographics – a concern that was seen in some quarters as a driving factor behind the aborted European Super League.
“There will be Ronaldo fans out there who start following Manchester United and that gives you leverage to sell more product,” says Dr Wilson.
“The social media channel that lit up the most was Instagram, which is the 16-24 demographic. Everyone is concerned about the 16 to 24s. Speak to any club executive and that is their biggest headache.
“On-demand, streaming services, the way young people consume digital media means they are less likely to watch a full 90 minutes of football. All the clubs want to break into that 16 to 24 market.”
That market is now within reach for a club that boasts one of global sport’s most popular – and marketable – names.
It’s a signing that seems to work for everyone then; from the boardroom to the ecstatic fans marvelling over the unexpected gift of an epilogue to Ronaldo’s Manchester United adventure.