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What Messi’s MLS, Apple, Adidas deal means for everyone



The moment seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi announced he would head to the U.S. to begin his MLS career, the “Messi effect” immediately took hold. Inter Miami CF’s social media following exploded, ticket prices skyrocketed and upcoming fixtures sold out. And all before he even signed a contract.

As the league and club went to work on the specifics of Messi joining Inter Miami following the expiration of his PSG contract on June 30, questions emerged about how one goes about formulating a deal compensating for such influence. Would just offering money be enough to woo a player who ranked second in 2023 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes at $130 million?

What else can you bring to the table? Miami and MLS’ answer appears to be to bring league partners into the mix.

The deal, unique in its structure, raises interesting questions about revenue splits for superstar athletes and the cascading impact on media rights negotiations.

According to Sportico, Messi’s 2½-year deal with Inter Miami is “worth up to $150 million total from his salary, signing bonus, and equity in the team.” Sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle that the option for part-ownership of Inter Miami will not be subsidized as it was in 2007 for David Beckham, who could purchase an MLS team for a discounted price of $25 million.

But that’s not all. In addition, revenue-sharing agreements with Adidas, Apple and others were being negotiated. Here are some key questions and answers about Messi’s “unprecedented” MLS deal and what it means for everyone else.

Contract talk is usually boring talk unless you have a 36-year-old Argentine soccer legend attached to it. And this one does.

While the multimillion-dollar salary side of the contract is stale news in modern soccer, the revenue-sharing agreements with league partners offer something new. One industry expert called the Apple part of the deal “unprecedented.” Another termed it “unusual.”

“That deal has never been given to anybody in baseball, basketball, football, and so it’s very unique,” said Irwin Kishner, co-chair of the Sports Law Group. “It’s a generational-type thing, and it’s hard to think if you would ever see anything comparable.”

ESPN confirmed that part of the ongoing discussion is a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming service. The subscription service on Apple TV+ was launched earlier this year when Apple and MLS kicked off their $2.5 billion decade-long media rights partnership.

“I do think in a significant way that what the [Messi] deal’s about is customer acquisition,” said John Kosner, president of Kosner Media, a digital media and sports consultancy. “Customer acquisition is perhaps the biggest issue in sports and sports media these days.”

Apple currently holds exclusive, worldwide rights for every MLS game, and the season pass also features both an English and Spanish broadcast crew. “This [Messi’s arrival] is the sort of thing that will get them noticed and expand their international reach,” said Ed Desser, president of Desser Media Inc. “That is the kind of thing that’s particularly interesting for a global company like Apple.”

A similar profit split — reminiscent of the Nike-Michael Jordan deal over Air Jordan — is said to be in discussion with Adidas, the official supplier of the league and a longtime sponsor of the player himself. What cut of those increases, if any, Messi gets is yet unknown. Any agreement between Messi and Adidas would strictly be between the player and the company and wouldn’t directly involve MLS, ESPN confirmed in earlier reports.

Ernesto Bruce, CEO of For Soccer and former senior director of soccer for Adidas, likened this deal to an “evolution” of what Beckham’s contract was when he signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007. “David Beckham was a big catalyst when he came over,” he said. “He had a deal with Major League Soccer, he had a deal with LA Galaxy, and he also happened to have a partnership with Adidas while I was there. That was a revolutionary moment because part of that deal had a future ownership stake in an undisclosed MLS team.”

That MLS team wound up being Inter Miami, where Beckham is co-owner alongside brothers Jorge and Jose Mas. Now, Bruce compares Messi’s contract and presence in MLS to an “accelerator.”

What does this deal mean for other star athletes’ contracts in the future?
MLS, a fairly young and innovative league, and Messi, one of the sporting greats, are uniquely positioned assets in their own way as parties to a deal of this scope. At the upper echelons of sporting legend, only a few command the same influence as the man from Rosario.

In the NBA, one could argue, what about Steph Curry? LeBron James? Would Messi’s potential revenue-sharing agreement inspire something similar for them?

“That is really going to set some alarm bells off,” a former NBA agent said. “For the right players and the right player agents, if they have individuals who can really move the needles — so the Giannis Antetokounmpos of the world, the Nikola Jokics of the world, the Joel Embiids of the world, they are going to look at this in the next collective bargaining and say, ‘Listen, players control the league,'” he said.

But even with the NBA stars’ power, it might not be enough to match Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccitini. “I don’t think they have that level of power like Messi,” Kishner said. “There is global reach, but not nearly what a Messi has.”

Much like on the pitch, Messi is in a league of his own at the negotiating table, his influence matched by only an ultra-elite few. The Argentine boasts Instagram’s third-highest following — 478 million — behind only the social network itself and fellow soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 596 million followers.

However, there might be other ways to creatively approach such negotiations. “What I’ve learned in all my years in licensing, there is a thing called ‘slicensing’ — because you can slice the pie up,” said Cara Lustik, a branding and licensing expert.

Lustik explained that while not every athlete can match Messi’s scope of influence in securing revenue-sharing agreements, slicing the subscription model into smaller segments in specific regions could favor other athletes. “There are so many leagues that could use extra eyeballs, and to do that, the easiest way is to take advantage of the talent who has them, and everybody wins,” she said.

Another league that might take notice? The NWSL, Bruce said. “The U.S. leads soccer in the women’s game,” he said. “And so how does NWSL adapt to this?”

What about Apple, MLS and a sign of the future of live sports programming?
The streaming giants want a bite of live sports programming and in recent years, they’ve chomped down. Amazon’s Prime Video has NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.” Apple TV+ is in a partnership with Major League Baseball to stream games. Google’s YouTube TV is now home to NFL Sunday Ticket, and you can add MLS’ Apple TV+ deal to the growing list.

Research by Parks Associates, a market research and consulting company, showed that “annual sports OTT subscription revenue in the United States was $13.1 billion in 2022 and will almost double to approximately $22.6 billion in 2027.”

Eric Sorensen, a senior contributing analyst at Parks Associates, attributed this shift to the pandemic and the need for a more immersive experience for the sports fan. “Sports online, on streaming services, are much more engaging from interactive feature sets, from the chance and the ability to potentially place bets and wagers, the stats and data and integration that’s coming into the screen,” he said.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for traditional broadcasters. Kosner, a former ESPN executive vice president, emphasized that technology companies are not media companies first. “I think we’re going to see a bifurcation of different rights really based upon the interests and priorities of these bidders, including traditional companies and also just the viewing habits of sports fans,” he said.

The choices available and competition for live sports programming perfectly set the stage just as the NBA’s $2.66 billion-a-year deal with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery expires after the 2024-25 season.

“I don’t think that the NBA could have planned it much better,” said Desser, who was the former chief negotiator for all the NBA and WNBA national media agreements. “The combination of various parties trying things out for the first time and seeing what could happen will accrue to the NBA’s benefit.”

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Barcelona’s salary limit drops massively from €648m to €270m




Barcelona’s new salary limit for this season has been set at €270 million, a huge drop from the €648m limit set in February.

La Liga have told informed all clubs of their salary levels for the next five months, when they will be reviewed again following the close of the January transfer window.

Barca’s new limit is €270m, the third highest in La Liga, behind Real Madrid and Atletico.

Los Blancos lead the way on €727m, while Atletico Madrid’s salary cap has been set at €296m.

Barca have been busy in the summer in a bid to reduce their wage bill. There were a host of outgoings with Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ousmane Dembele among those players to be shifted off the wage bill.

Incoming players have arrived on free transfers, or for small fees, and have had to take significant wage cuts. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has also taken a downward contract renewal in a bid to help his club during their financial difficulties.

It’s worth noting that Barcelona are still thought to be way over the limit with a current wage bill of around €404m, meaning there’s still a lot of work needed to do on the financial front.

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Meet 10 highest paid players in the Premier League




The Premier League is one of the richest leagues in the world and a lot of the star players are on incredibly lucrative contracts.

The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are all willing to offer huge pay packets to help convince players to join their clubs.

Using data from Capology, a look at the 10 Premier League players with the highest weekly wage.

Note: All figures mentioned are before tax and do not include the array of bonuses that are included in the fine print of every contract.

  1. Kai Havertz – £280,000
    Havertz spent three years at Chelsea before moving across London and joining Arsenal in a £65millon deal in the summer of 2023.

Alongside the transfer fee, the Gunners also shelled out a significant pay packet as they are giving him a reported £280,000-per-week.

The Germany international is the highest-paid player at the Emirates, earning £15,000-a-week more than teammate Gabriel Jesus.

He has faced some criticism for a slow start to life in north London but still has plenty of time to prove his doubters wrong.

9= Jack Grealish – £300,000
Grealish left boyhood club Aston Villa and completed a £100million move to Manchester City in the summer of 2021.

The England international then got a significant wage increase, going from £125,000-per-week at Villa Park to £300,000-per-week at the Etihad.

He had an underwhelming debut season at City but rediscovered his best form in 2022/23, helping Pep Guardiola’s side win the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Alongside his huge wages, the 28-year-old earns £10million a year from Puma and also has a lucrative endorsement contract with fashion house Gucci.

9= Marcus Rashford – £300,00
A Manchester United academy graduate, Rashford earned just £500-a-week when he broke into the first team in February 2016.

The 25-year-old has since developed into one of the best players in the Premier League and his wages have subsequently skyrocketed.

He put pen to paper on a new five-year contract ahead of the 2023/24 season and is now pocketing around £300,000-per-week.

According to The Athletic, Rashford rejected more lucrative proposals from England and abroad to remain at his boyhood club.

9= Bernardo Silva – £300,000
Since arriving from Monaco in the summer of 2017, Silva has helped Manchester City win 14 trophies, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League.

He was heavily linked with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in 2023 and was also offered a £500,000-a-week contract by Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal.

But the Portugal international rejected that lucrative offer and signed a contract extension with City until the summer of 2026.

The new deal, which reportedly includes a release clause, rewarded Silva for his impressive performances and doubled his £150,000-a-week salary.

  1. Raheem Sterling – £325,000
    After spending seven seasons at Manchester City, Sterling opted for a new challenge and joined Chelsea in a £47.5million deal in 2022.

The winger signed a five-year deal which is worth £325,000-per-week, making him the highest-paid player at Stamford Bridge.

He struggled to justify that huge pay packet during a turbulent debut season, registering just nine goals and four assists across 38 appearances in all competitions.

While a lot of Chelsea players got a pay cut for missing out on the Champions League, Sterling’s wages have reportedly stayed the same.

  1. Raphael Varane – £340,000
    Varane’s move to Manchester United in the summer of 2021 saw his wage packet double after he was reportedly paid £170,000-per-week at Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old arrived at Old Trafford with some serious pedigree, having won three La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and the World Cup.

He’s widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and has forged a promising centre-back partnership with Lisandro Martinez.

But the former France international has struggled to stay fit for prolonged periods and has already missed 35 United matches through injury.

4= Mohamed Salah – £350,000
After months upon months of speculation about a potential Liverpool exit, Salah committed his future to the Reds in 2022 by putting pen to paper on a new three-year contract.

The deal saw his wages go from £200,000-per-week to £350,000-per-week, making him the highest-paid player in the club’s illustrious history.

According to The Athletic, various bonuses written into the contract could see that rise closer to £400,000-per-week.

That still pales in comparison to the £2.45million-a-week wage that Al-Hilal are reportedly willing to offer the Egypt international.

4= Casemiro – £350,000
Casemiro enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Real Madrid, winning five La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and five Champions Leagues.

The midfielder subsequently raised eyebrows in 2022 when he decided to leave Real and join a Manchester United side that had failed to qualify for the Champions League.

His reported wages of £350,000-a-week led to speculation that he only signed for a massive payday, but the Brazil international insisted that the money was not part of his thinking in accepting the switch.

“Those who think that don’t know me,” he said. “I’m not like that. If it was for money, then I could have left four or five years ago. The club always acted well with me. It was my decision. It was simply the feeling that my cycle here had come to an end. This was clear to me.”

He silenced his critics and had a brilliant debut season at Old Trafford, helping United win the EFL Cup and finish third in the Premier League.

But the 31-year-old has had a difficult start to the 2023/24 season and his £350,000-a-week contract doesn’t expire until 2026.

  1. Erling Haaland – £375,000
    Manchester City won the race for Haaland’s signature in 2022 after triggering the £51.2million release clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract.

Having signed Haaland for around a third of his market value, City agreed to make him one of their highest earners and are paying the 23-year-old a base salary of £375,000-per-week.

The striker is worth every penny as he scored 52 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions during a record-breaking debut season.

According to reports, Haaland’s contract also includes a number of relatively straightforward bonuses which could take his wage up to £865,000-per-week.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne – £400,000
    After Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United contract was terminated by mutual consent in November 2022, De Bruyne took his place as the Premier League’s highest earner.

The Manchester City midfielder last signed a contract extension in April 2021, which took his pay up to the £400,000-per-week mark.

He justified that wage increase by winning the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2021/22 before playing an integral role in City’s treble-winning campaign.

Culled from

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NFF Budgets N14.4 Billion For 2024




The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it will spend the sum of N14,494,469,293.00 (Fourteen Billion, Four Hundred and Ninety-Four Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand and Two Hundred and Ninety-Three Naira) in 2024.

This was part of the resolution passed by the Congress of the NFF which held its 79th Annual General Assembly on Sunday, 10th September 2023 at Monty Suites Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

Sports Marketing International reports that the Congress approved the NFF’s 2024 Budget proposal of the sum of N14,494,469,293.00 even as it considered and approved the NFF Financial Statements for the Year Ended 2022 among many other agenda that were looked into during the congress.

While passing a vote of confidence on the Executive Committee of the NFF led by Ibrahim Musa Gusau, the congress approved the change of name of the Nigeria Professional Football League to the Nigeria Premier Football League and pledged full support to the Super Eagles in its quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup USA/Mexico/Canada 2026.

The football body, after appraising the efforts, commitment and passion of the Akwa Ibom State government to the development and real growth of Nigeria Football through its support and encouragement of the NFF and the National Teams, the Congress commended Governor Umo Bassey Eno and his cabinet and encouraged them to do even more as the Super Eagles are ready to make Uyo its home for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

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