The £60 million that Manchester United have invested bringing Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club will be recouped in commercial value, even if he does not bring success on the pitch.
A new report from The Athletic claims that despite Juventus forking out €100 million for Ronaldo and it failing to improve results, the club still benefitted immensely from the transaction on a commercial level.
And while United are already a much better-oiled commercial machine than their Italian counterparts, they will stand to benefit in a number of ways that will far outstrip their outlay, which in turn is significantly less than that of the Old Lady.
First of all, ‘future sponsorship deals are set to rise, with the pursuit of a new training-ground sponsor high on their priority list,’ The Athletic reports.
‘Professional services firm AON spent £180 million to have its name on the club’s Carrington complex in an eight-year association that ended this summer. Ronaldo’s sudden presence will only help, not hinder, talks about taking over the naming rights with interested parties who, as recently as the spring, were being spooked by United’s proposed involvement in the Super League.’
AON’s name is also yet to be replaced on the club’s training kit. The HUT Group was poised to sponsor the kit but pulled out due to the protests and another investor has still not been secured. That now, surely, will be a different kettle of fish.
It is not as if Ronaldo will make the difference between nil and £200 million sponsorship, but the difference he will make in this transaction alone will almost certainly eclipse United’s total spending on his contract.
Shirt sales are another obvious way in which the megastar can increase United’s income. While the club only earns around 7.5-10% of the revenue from shirt sales, the number of Ronaldo 7’s alone could generate millions.
Records show that United normally sell in the region of 3-4 million shirts a year. At £70 per shirt and a 7.5% share, that is in the region of £18 million in revenue. Ronaldo’s arrival is likely to comfortably double or triple shirt sales this year. In fact, a shortage has already been reported.
United’s social media presence is also skyrocketing.
According to the report, ‘the club’s Instagram account will typically attract in the region of 30,000 new followers on any given day. Confirmation of Ronaldo’s imminent arrival on Friday evening, however, added 800,000 inside an hour.
‘By Tuesday, when the contracts were signed, another 3.1 million had come on board. Or, roughly speaking, an eight per cent uplift. United’s Twitter and their Facebook page also saw marked, albeit less dramatic, surges.’
Ronaldo’s total social media following is four times that of United and the club will benefit immensely from his presence.
‘Not only does he boast the highest number of followers for any individual on Instagram (337 million and counting), he has the biggest following of any athlete on Twitter (94 million).
‘Only Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Rihanna are ahead of him but throw in his Facebook army of 150 million and that brings his social media following to almost 600 million.
‘Or close to twice the population of the United States.
‘United themselves cannot come close to those numbers. Their following is more like 150 million.’
Whether Ronaldo will bring United success on the pitch remains to be seen. It was not to be at Juve despite his scoring 101 goals in 134 appearances. But for United’s owners, if silverware does arrive it will probably just be seen as a potential cherry on top of the cake.
On the other hand, a massive increase in commercial revenues across the board and a complete restoration of all the damage done by their doomed European Super League project: that kind of result is the stuff of the Glazer family dreams.