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SBD Global/September 4, 2013/Finance

Gareth Bale's Marketability Expected To Help Real Madrid Sell More Than 40,000 Jerseys

Fans shop for Gareth Bale Real Madrid jerseys shortly after his transfer.
In signing former EPL Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale, Real Madrid is getting "not only a world-class footballer, but also a potential gold mine in advertising contracts," according to Carlos Forjanes of AS. Bale's media cache "has multiplied in the last few years despite him competing for a club with as little pull as Tottenham." According to "sources at adidas, Bale could sell more than 40,000 jerseys worldwide this year." Bale has a contract with adidas worth €2.5M ($3.3M) per year, and that "will be renegotiated within the next few weeks." Bale's jersey sales "could multiply exponentially if he starts the season on the right foot, scoring goals and putting on an exhibition." Real Madrid is "also opening the Anglo-Saxon market after losing a share of the market elsewhere with the loss of Kaka, who has enormous pull in South America and China." The "excitement to acquire the No. 11 Real Madrid Bale jersey began on Aug. 15 in Gibraltar, where it then began selling." At that moment, "stores throughout Spain and Europe began exploiting Bale's name on a Madrid shirt for the '13-14 season." In Real Madrid's official team store, Bale's jersey costs €86.51 ($113.87), and "did not go on sale until Monday, when the team presented its new player." M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment CEO Steve Martin said three weeks ago, "Gareth is an asset that is about to explode. In global terms, he is a sleeping giant. He has not even left the confines of the Premier League. The difference between Real Madrid's and Tottenham's audience is astronomical." As part of his EA Sports sponsorship, Bale is "featured alongside Lionel Messi on the cover of FIFA 14." Bale is "also entering the fashion market, and was featured on the cover of Esquire magazine, and has taken small steps as a business man." Bale recently "trademarked his heart-shaped goal celebration" and created the Eleven of Hearts clothing brand. This brand "is expected to commercialize even clothes and jewelry which, according to the experts, could generate profits of €4M ($5.3M) per year" (AS, 9/3).

EPL 'BIGGER THAN ITS STARS': In N.Y., Sam Borden reported that while the transfer price "may make Bale unique -- at least until next summer, when Madrid’s magic money men lock in on their next fascination -- there is one area in which Bale, a Welshman, is most certainly not alone: he is a star who spurned England." Look at "the list of big-money transfers this summer." Neymar and Bale "went to Spain." Mario Götze (Bayern Munich) stayed in Germany. Edinson Cavani (Paris St. Germain), Radamel Falcao (Monaco) and Marquinhos (Paris St. Germain) went to France. After Arsenal signed Mesut Özil, "five of the six most lucrative moves completed during this transfer period" have sent players "somewhere other than the Premier League, generally regarded as the best league in the world." While some int'l observers, however, may "seize upon this as a referendum on the quality of the English game, Bale’s departure will ultimately serve more as an affirmation of the Premier League’s stature than as a denigration of its product." Why? Because "the Premier League has reached that hallowed ground where it is far, far bigger than any of its stars or teams." London-based football author Philippe Auclair said, "From the outside, it looks as if the Premier League is not as attractive as it used to be for the top players. But if you look more closely, the strength and depth of the squads is incredible. The clubs have not signed many big stars, but the league does not need them" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).

WORTH THE COST?: Also in N.Y., Rob Hughes reported it is more than a question of whether Bale "can build a legacy anywhere close to the 202 goals in 202 games that Ronaldo has thus far accumulated for the club." Presumably, "Messi's records may be out of sight." Another "bewitching hat trick against Valencia on Sunday night took his total to 318 goals in 383 appearances in a Barcelona shirt." We "may never, in truth, be able to measure Bale's worth, against these two or against anyone else in history." Bale, like former ManU and Northern Ireland footballer "George Best before him, is unlikely to ever succeed in the other milieu that matters, the World Cup, because their countries, Northern Ireland and Wales, are not capable of providing teammates to help them." The "analogy about the great pianist needing artisans to carry the piano applies." Football, "for all the fascination with individuals, will always be a team sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2).

RONALDO: PRICE TAG COULD BE ISSUE: ESPN's Dermot Corrigan reported former Madrid striker Ronaldo "has called on journalists and supporters not to 'obsess' about the money which has been paid for Bale." Ronaldo: "It will be normal that when he does something wrong on the pitch, the fans will consider that, having paid €100M ($132M) for him, he is obliged not to make mistakes" (ESPN, 9/3).
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