Football, or soccer if you prefer, has been around since the nineteenth century. Since the establishment of the original football league in England, a league that took amateurs to the professional ranks for the first time, soccer has become the most played and watched sport on the planet. From these humble, local beginnings where players were not paid at all, this is a sport that has evolved, expanded, and become dominant in terms of global sporting popularity.
It would take many years to discuss every step of this sporting evolution, but there are a few critical points to make before we proceed. It took until the late 1970s before a player was sold for over one million pounds, but even before then, famous players enjoyed local and national popularity.
From salaries to contract costs, and television coverage to soccer betting (which is now phenomenally popular and attracts millions of viewers per year), this was a sport that although played globally, was all about clubs and countries, rather than any individual player.
It was, I believe, Bob Paisley, the storied manager of Liverpool Football Club, who said that no player was bigger than a club. In that era, the sixties and seventies, only those who played in world cups, it could be argued, were truly what could be classified as global superstars. How things have changed. Though soccer clubs are still adored and venerated by their local fanbases, big clubs are now boasting a worldwide network of supporters.
More than this, these once small clubs have now become global businesses. So how have players themselves contributed to this global football frenzy, and how do they impact the business dealings of football clubs and franchises from around the world? We’ll take a look now.
Matches, Money, Merchandising: Player Power Is Measured In Many Ways
Soccer clubs and franchises have many revenue streams. These days, they can include everything from television coverage deals to club website streaming funds, ticket sales for home matches, and shirt, club, and matchday sponsorship money. When you look at the player salaries for those fortunate enough to play in the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, or any leading league in the world, you will soon appreciate why clubs need so many revenue streams.
In the modern soccer world, much of this revenue is directly linked to the power, the pull, the marketing prowess, and the overall draw of superstar players. The first global soccer stars, such as George Best, Franz Beckenbaur, and Pele, although they were popular, were not in the same league as today’s players are.
Let’s put it simply… We all love players like Ronaldo, Beckham, Messi, and Benzema, among many others. They’re not just idols; they’re superb business assets who are worth millions in merchandise sales, oodles in global television coverage and, of course, are absolutely crucial when it comes to selling out stadiums.
It is not an exact fiscal science when we try to measure precisely how much global soccer superstars are worth to their clubs. Even so, take a sneaky glance at their gargantuan salaries and transfer fees, and that should give you a little clue.
With players being sold for tens of millions of dollars, you know that those who own the clubs, and all the stakeholders too, are banking on the money creating a powerful global marketing machine. From Manchester to Madrid, Barcelona to Berlin, soccer clubs are harnessing player power as much as the players themselves, and that is always good for business.
Corporate Soccer Clubs: From The Pitch To The Share Prices, Business is Booming
Soccer is, first and foremost, a sport. Put simply, we love soccer; it’s not called the Beautiful Game for nothing, you know. It is beloved by billions around the world, revered by those who play it, cherished by people of all ages, and unites supporters around the world, as well as pitting them against each other. Of course, although it may seem like a hyperbolic statement, soccer is so much more than a game.
This sport is a global business, driven by global sporting superstars. Take a look at any list of the most valuable soccer clubs in the world and you will find that they are worth multi-billions. Granted, there are plenty of smaller clubs that have no such wealth or value, but many argue that trickle-down economics means any growth and financial success in the game is good for everyone. As the phrase goes, a high tide lifts all ships.
Multiple clubs are now trading on the international stock markets, with revenues higher than ever and, in the cases of clubs such as Barcelona, PSG, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool, etc., owners are willing to pump billions into clubs to achieve success on the pitch as well as off it. Business is booming for soccer and what goes on in the boardroom is as important for the future of soccer clubs as what happens on the pitch.
Returning to the original theme of this article, what conclusions can we reach about how soccer as a business is being driven and fueled by global superstar players as much by the product itself? It could all come down to money, in one sense.
As I previously asserted, clubs will only shell out millions on players if they believe a return on their investment is guaranteed. If we look at it in those stark terms alone, we could rightly conclude that superstar soccer players are indeed driving the burgeoning business side of this global sport. There is, of course, more to it, but that’s for another article.