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How Mbappe’s huge wage offer from Saudi compares with stars of golf, NBA, NFL



For starters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he stays at Paris Saint-Germain and signs a new contract even more lucrative than the one he is on now. Another alternative is to see that deal out and join Real Madrid as a free agent next summer and take advantage of the hefty signing-on fee that comes with such a move.

A third option is to sign for Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, who are reportedly offering the 2018 World Cup winner and current France captain a one-year deal worth €700million (£602m; $772m), before deadline day on September 1 and then go to Madrid on a free this time next summer once that contract expires. A fourth possibility is that Madrid are tempted into paying PSG a fee for Mbappe before the end of this window.

Whatever Mbappe decides to do, his bank account is going to benefit massively.

There are no two ways about it: the numbers being bandied about here are grotesque and will take player wages to a new level of obscenity, but if we’re being honest they lost all meaning a long time ago.

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund that is now the majority shareholder in Riyadh-based Al Hilal, is willing to spend €1billion (£860m; $1.1bn), of which €300m (£258m; $331m) would be paid to PSG as a transfer fee, to acquire Mbappe’s services for a single season.

The transfer fee alone would be a world record, comfortably surpassing the (£190.3m; $245.8m) PSG paid Barcelona to sign Neymar in 2017.

Lionel Messi turned down a €1.2billion (£1bn; $1.3bn) two year-contract from Al Hilal last month to instead join Inter Miami in MLS. Meanwhile, his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo is being paid £175m ($226m) a year by Al Hilal’s Riyadh neighbours Al Nassr.

When you consider Trevor Francis, who passed away on Monday, became the first £1million ($1.3m at current exchange rates) British player in 1979, moving from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest, the money involved in the possible Mbappe transaction seems even more astronomical.

Kieran Maguire, the football finance expert, has worked out that Francis’ 1979 fee today, when revenue increases over time as a measure of purchasing power, would be worth £253.5million ($327.3m).

If this is taken into the current context, Al Hilal’s offer that would see £258million go to PSG does not seem so unreasonable.

Very sad to read of the passing of Trevor Francis, recall him destroying Brighton at Maine Road.

His 1979 transfer fee, adjusted for football inflation (revenue increases over time as a measure of purchasing power) would be £253.5 million today. That’s how good he was.

The fee Al Hilal are seemingly ready to pay is also roughly the same figure that Real Madrid, who Mbappe could then join as a free agent in 2024 after bolstering his bank balance with a season in the Middle East, are spending to extensively rebuild their famous Bernabeu stadium.

So, yes, the finances involved here are off the scale, especially when his potential salary is broken down and you realise Mbappe stands to earn £1.65million a day. In that sense, it is not a surprise to see the negative reaction it has generated from a general public going through a cost of living crisis.

But when you compare these figures to what other top athletes earn, is it entirely out of kilter that Mbappe, one of the biggest stars in the most popular sport in the world, could command such a salary?

Tiger Woods, for example, turned down a reported $800million (£620m) last year to join the PIF-funded LIV Golf breakaway tour. Rory McIlroy, another of golf’s biggest names, is similarly said to have turned down an astronomical signing-on fee that stretched into the hundreds of millions of pounds when he chose to stay with the PGA Tour.

The common factor in the cases of Mbappe, Woods and McIlroy is that the money on the table came from Saudi Arabia.

But lofty sums can be earned in golf away from the Gulf, too. Brian Harman of the U.S. won The Open Championship on Sunday, pocketing $3million (£2.3m) for his efforts. The winner of this year’s FedEx Cup tournament, the culmination of the full 2023 season’s events on the North American-based PGA Tour, will be rewarded with a cheque for $17m (£13.2m).

Away from golf, but sticking with North America, franchises competing in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) are not shy when it comes to handing out big-money contracts.

The immediate caveat to point out here is that all three of those leagues are closed shops, where relegation or qualification to earn further prize money in a Champions League equivalent do not exist, which makes any investment safer.

Jaylen Brown has just signed the richest contract in NBA history, with the Boston Celtics agreeing to pay the 26-year-old $304million (£235m) over five years. The extension kicks in for the 2024-25 season, and means his annual salary will jump from $28.5m (£22.1m) to $60.8m (£47.1m).

This surpasses the previous NBA record — set in 2022 — that saw the Denver Nuggets, another part of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s sporting empire, commit to paying Nikola Jokic $264million (£204.5m) in a five-year deal. Jokic led Denver to win the 2022-23 NBA title last month.

According to Spotrac, a website that breaks down contracts, LeBron James, who is regarded as one of the best NBA players ever, will have accumulated $530.9million (£411.2m) throughout his career if he remains at the Los Angeles Lakers until the end of the 2024-25 season.

James, now 38, reacted to the Mbappe news by posting a GIF on Twitter of Tom Hanks’ movie character Forrest Gump, implying he would run to Saudi Arabia if he was offered a similar one-year contract.

On a similar theme, Usain Bolt, still the men’s 100m world record-holder despite retiring in 2017, joked he would be ready to make a comeback at age 36 if the Saudis are throwing money on the table.

Switching to the NFL, Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs, signed a 10-year deal worth up to $503million (£389.7m) in 2020.

Although no quarterback has signed such a long-term contract since then, the annual value of what they earn goes up each time one of the game’s top players at its most important position gets a new deal.

Earlier this summer, Lamar Jackson agreed one worth $260million (£203.3m) over five years — $52m (£40.3m) a year — with the Baltimore Ravens, only for the Los Angeles Chargers to sign their quarterback, Justin Herbert, to a $262.5million (£203.2m) extension of the same length on Tuesday.

Herbert’s annual salary is likely to be eclipsed by that of Joe Burrow, who is set to receive a new deal from the Cincinnati Bengals. The expectation in the industry is that Burrow will become the highest-earning NFL quarterback on a per-annum basis.

Shohei Ohtani, a rare baseball player who excels as both a batter and a pitcher, could secure a contract worth $500million (£387.3m) if he hits free agency. His current contract with the Los Angeles Angels expires when the 2023 MLB season ends in November.

In boxing, there are significant one-off payments to be earned.

Floyd Mayweather, who retired undefeated in August 2017, called himself “Money Mayweather” due to the vast pay-per-view earnings he generated. A single fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, for example, reportedly made the American around £225million ($290.5m). There was a similar payday two years later when he faced Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star Conor McGregor in a cross-sport bout that was the last of Mayweather’s career.

Mbappe, should he accept Al Hilal’s offer, will become the highest-paid player of any professional sport.

Athletes, more so than ever before, are becoming brands in their own right, and the Frenchman comfortably sits alongside the biggest names in football. He is one of the few players in the sport, a list which also includes Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who can legitimately replace Ronaldo and Messi and take on the mantle of being at the forefront of the world’s most popular game.

The people running the PIF know this and can sense an opportunity to take the Saudi Pro League to another level in terms of interest. And when you take into account what other athletes get paid, even though their earnings are spread across multi-year contracts, elite sport is awash with money.

Mbappe would just be the latest in a long line to cash in on their worth as both a professional athlete and a brand.

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CAF to make about $75m in estimated revenue for AFCON 2023




At the Stade Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan last Sunday, mixed emotions filled the air. Heartbreak for the Super Eagles of Nigeria and joy for the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, who clinched the AFCON 2023 trophy with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

Ivory Coast’s remarkable journey to lifting the trophy concluded a thrilling AFCON, making it the best experience so far.


During the Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony on January 13th, CAF President Patrice Motsepe expressed optimism that AFCON 2023 would be the best so far. The events and drama that unfolded in Abidjan undoubtedly support this claim.


Before the final of the competition, Dr Patrice Motsepe mentioned in a press conference that nearly 2 billion people had tuned in to watch AFCON 2023.


The notable rise in viewership was linked to broader broadcast rights, media coverage, commercial partnerships, and the influence of social media.

CAF had 17 commercial partners for the tournament, which included TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, official sponsors such as 1xBet, Visa, and Orange, along with regional sponsors like Ecobank, Unilever, and MTN.


Matches were shown in about 180 countries through deals with partner broadcasters like Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC, and MultiChoice, as well as 45 Free To Air broadcasters.


Media accreditation saw 6,000 journalists apply, which is double the number from the last AFCON in Cameroon in 2022.

How Many People Viewed AFCON 2021 and how it compares to AFCON 2023? 

The CAF activity report for 2021-2022 indicates that around 500 million viewers from 160 nations tuned in to watch AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, marking an increase of 40 nations compared to AFCON 2019 in Egypt.


Additionally, CAF recorded 1.4 billion streaming impressions on its digital platforms, and there were 351.4 million online video views associated with AFCON Cameroon 2021.


By sticking to the earlier estimate of 2 billion people before the final, it suggests that AFCON viewership saw an increase of over 300%, and this could be more when the official report from CAF is released.

Estimated Sponsorship Revenue for AFCON 2023 

According to GlobalData, a London-based market research firm, it is projected that CAF will generate approximately $75 million in sponsorship revenue from the current AFCON.


The tournament featured 17 commercial partners, including TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, along with 1xBet, Orange, and Unilever.


In the fiscal year 2021-2022, CAF’s overall revenue reached $103.6 million. The sponsorship funds derived from Competitions contributed significantly to this total, generating an impressive cumulative revenue of $79.8 million.


This marked a notable increase of $3.6 million compared to the previous year’s sponsorship funds.


The projected sponsorship revenue for the AFCON 2023 alone is estimated to be $75 million, underscoring the substantial and commendable contribution of CAF to this achievement.


In January, prior to the commencement of AFCON 2023, CAF disclosed a 40% increase in the prize money.


The champions, Ivory Coast, are set to receive USD 7,000,000. The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be awarded USD 4,000,000, while South Africa and DR Congo will each receive USD 2,500,000.


The other four quarter-finalists, Mali, Angola, Guinea, and Cape Verde, will individually get USD 1,300,000.


AFCON made a big impact on social media, from lively fan chats to live updates. But it wasn’t just for fun; some people also made money from it.


Last year, Twitter started an initiative where users could earn a share of the ad revenue from sponsored posts under their tweets.


Some folks partnered with brands, joined subscription programs, or got tips from their followers.


For example, a video of the final moments of the Côte d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria match, posted on the official CAF account, got over 15 million views, 1.5 million likes, and 300,000 retweets.


According to Statista, the average cost per thousand impressions for social media ads globally was $4.33 in the second quarter of 2023, making the estimated ad revenue around $65,000.


The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was undoubtedly a success both on and off the field. The Confederation of African Football, CAF can take pride in organizing a splendid tournament.

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Premier League approves Ratcliffe £1.02bn stake in Man Utd




British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25% stake in Manchester United has been approved by the Premier League.

United also expect clearance from the Football Association with Ratcliffe keen to complete the deal by mid-February that will give him control of football operations at Old Trafford.

Confirming their approval, a Premier League statement on Tuesday said: “Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s acquisition of 25 per cent of Manchester United FC, and further investment of $300 million in the club, has been approved by the Premier League Board, following the completion of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.

“The Board agreed to the change of the club’s ownership structure last week, and this has now been officially ratified by an Independent Oversight Panel. The Premier League’s Owners’ Charter has also been signed.

“The Premier League now awaits confirmation of the transaction’s completion.”

It was announced on Christmas Eve that Ratcliffe had agreed to buy a minority stake in United from unpopular owners the Glazer family in a deal worth around £1.02 billion. He will also invest a further £238 million in the club’s infrastructure.

The 71-year-old boyhood United fan is reportedly already planning to lead an overhaul of the squad after a season that is improving following a slow start.

The Glazers have come under heavy criticism from fans who blame them for a steady decline in the fortunes of the 20-time English league champions after a period of domination under manager Alex Ferguson who retired in 2013, the last time they won the league title.

Many fans had hoped the Glazers would sell the club in full, although Ratcliffe’s investment has been welcomed.


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The €52m-plus cost of Man Utd going out of the UEFA Champions League




Manchester United had missed the sound of that familiar and stirring anthem, but just three months after returning to the Champions League, the Red Devils look to be heading for the exit door far sooner than they had imagined.

After a series of games that have been highly-entertaining for neutrals but unbearable for fans, Erik ten Hag’s side need a miracle on Tuesday to avoid leaving European football’s biggest party early. Not only do United need to win their final Group A match against Bayern Munich – who have not lost a group game for more than six years – they need to pray for a draw in the other game between Copenhagen and Galatasaray, where both sides will be desperate to win to make it through to the last 16 themselves.

It is a tall order, but United only have themselves to blame for getting into this predicament after winning just one of their five matches and conceding a remarkable 14 goals in the process, leaving them bottom of a group they would have expected to comfortably finish second in.

And if they are unable to pull off a miraculous escape act, they stand to lose out on considerable amounts of money as well as a significant blow to their prestige. GOAL counts the real cost of the Red Devils bowing out of the Champions League this week…

Missing out on prize money
United will have to ready themselves for an initial hit of €9.6m (£8.2m/$9.m) in prize money for failing to make the last 16, and also forgo the other bonuses that come when progressing further in the competition: €10.6m (£9.1m/$11.4m) for reaching the quarter-finals, €12.5m (£10m/$13m) for the semi-finals, €15.5m (£13.3m/$16.6m) for finishing runners-up and €20m (£17m/$21m) for winning the competition.

That’s a maximum of €52.7m (£45m/$56m), even if it were highly unlikely that Ten Hag’s chaotic side were ever going to win the Champions League. But they did reach the quarter-finals in both 2014 and 2019, so a more realistic figure of €20.2m (£17m/$21m) could have been on offer. To put it another away, enough to buy a Manuel Akanji or a Tyrell Malacia…

Fewer matches equals less money
United would also miss out on big money-spinning matches in the knockout rounds. According to the Sports Journal, United made an average of £3.96m ($4.9m) per Premier League match in 2022 – more than any other side in the English top-flight – and that figure will be £4.2m ($5.2m) this season after the club raised ticket prices by 5 percent.

If United were to be drawn against a colossal club like Real Madrid or Barcelona in the last 16, the figure would be higher still. So that’s a potential £12.6m ($15.8m) at least in matchday revenue that could be secured if United go as far as the semi-finals.

The club could recoup some of that money if they drop into the Europa League, which also contains an extra match in the play-off round, although demand for tickets is likely to be lower, as would the prices of those tickets, unless they draw a top-level opponent like Liverpool in a later round.

Less broadcast revenue
United will also earn less television money if they exit the competition early. UEFA offers a total of €300m (£257m/$323m) in broadcast revenue which is distributed to each federation based on the value of their television market.

The English broadcast deal is the biggest, so Premier League clubs are entitled to more money than their counterparts. United have already secured half of this amount, but the other half is paid out in proportion to how many matches each club pays.

So if Ten Hag’s side exit at the group stage, they will get a far smaller slice of the cake than if they had gone deep into the competition.

Sliding down the coefficient table
An additional €600m (£515m/$646m) is shared among clubs according to their UEFA coefficient, which is calculated over 10 years and based on performance in European competitions. The lowest-ranked team earns €1.1m while the top team is awarded €36.4m.

Real Madrid currently lead the coefficient standings, followed by Bayern Munich and Barcelona. United are ranked 11th, with Man City fourth and Liverpool eighth.

Last season, Chelsea were ranked highest of the English clubs (they are now positioned sixth) and pocketed €32m. Tottenham, ranked lowest of the English clubs, took €19m. Should United exit the competition and also miss out on the Europa League, then they could slide down the rankings, although their relatively strong performances in the Europa League and Champions League in previous seasons mean they will not make a considerable loss. But it all adds up.

Increased financial pressure
The sums might not seem catastrophic given United posted a record revenue of £648m ($813m) last season, but the club are not exactly in rude financial health. They made a loss of £27.8m ($33m) this year and a £115.5m ($144m) loss the previous year, although that was largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They continue to sail close to the wind with regards to both the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules and UEFA’s financial fair play regulations, falling foul of the latter in June and being forced to pay a €300,000 fine. The club have done a particularly bad job of selling on players, especially compared to their rivals, bringing in just €110m in sales over the last three years while spending €589m on new arrivals.

In other words, they need all the revenue they can get, and the loss of Champions League earnings will put the club’s finances under more pressure.

No longer a top club?
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, United have only managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League twice. They have been knocked out in the last 16 twice and failed to even qualify on four occasions. If they fall short on Tuesday, it will be the third time they have been knocked out at the group stage.

It is not the track record of a top club and pales in comparison to the consistency of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and even Liverpool, until they failed to qualify last season. United still see themselves as among the top clubs in the world, but another hugely disappointing showing in the most prestigious competition will mean they will be the only ones to think so.

Overlooked by the best players
United’s failure to compete properly in the Champions League inevitably means they are struggling to attract the best emerging players. The club failed to convince both Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland to join as youngsters, and once both players were established stars at Borussia Dortmund and looking for their next move, United weren’t even in the conversation.

The Red Devils can still pay top wages, but they are struggling to attract real elite players at the peak of their powers. Casemiro and Raphael Varane may have joined from Real Madrid, but that was only once the Spanish giants had concluded they were past their best and wanted to cash in on them.

The best players not only want a guarantee of playing in the Champions League, they want to have the best chance of lifting that coveted trophy. And United cannot offer them either at the moment.

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