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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

The numbers discussed -- $145M or thereabouts -- to bring Gareth Bale to Real Madrid "are staggering," according Gabriele Marcotti of ESPN. As such, how do you "value a player like Bale?" The starting point is how much better he would make Real Madrid and whether you can put a value on it: "the benefit part of the cost-benefit analysis." Because we're dealing with numbers, "you'd look at it in terms of revenues." What added revenue "can Bale bring?"

PRICE MONEY: This one "is quite straightforward." If Bale helps Madrid advance further in the Champions League, "the club will earn more prize money."

BOX OFFICE: Real Madrid "drew nearly 70,000 a game in La Liga last season." There's room for 15,000 or so more per game at the Bernabeu, and of course, "ticket prices can be increased." If Real Madrid becomes more successful, it will draw more (and be able to charge more), "so the concept really is extrapolating how much Bale's presence alone contributes here."

MERCHANDISING: Real Madrid President Florentino Perez "loves to make a big deal out of this, citing the millions of David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane shirts the club sold over the years." It is "tempting to figure that if you sell a million shirts" at, say, $80 a shirt, that's $80M right there. But, in fact, "it doesn't work that way." For every Bale jersey sold, you have to ask yourself this: "Is the purchaser a Real fan who, if Bale hadn't signed, would have bought a shirt anyway?" Even more important is that "when clubs sell a jersey, they keep only a royalty ranging from 10 to 20 percent of the value." And depending on the image-rights contract, "they might have to split that amount with the player."

SPONSORSHIP: Sometimes you will have a player who is so popular that you will "be able to cut better deals with sponsors or attract new ones" simply because he is there. That obviously would not "be the case with Bale." So against all those benefits, you would "weigh up the costs and risks associated" (ESPN, 8/21). 

Israeli Premier League side Ironi Ramat Hasharon "announced this week the launch of an innovative -- and quite likely unique -- plan to attract fans to its matches," according to Allon Sinai of the JERUSALEM POST. The club "will hand out around 200 season tickets for free, as long as the supporters actually attend the games." Instead of paying to watch the matches in the stadium, "the supporters will only be charged for the games they miss." That "is how bad it has gotten for some teams in the Israeli top flight." For others, "business is booming." Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv "have all sold record numbers of season tickets this summer." However, beneath the cream of the crop there is "a bowl full of sour grapes that represents the true state of the local game." Most Premier League teams "live from hand to mouth and have no real prospect of improving their big-picture financial status." Numerous matches are played in front of almost empty stands and, as of Tuesday, apart from Ironi Kiryat Shmona, "not one of the league's teams had yet to have their budgets approved" by the Israel FA's Budget Control Authority. TV ratings have plummeted in recent seasons, "while broadcasts of foreign leagues attract more and more viewers" (JERUSALEM POST, 8/21).

A father and son who banked more than £600,000 ($940,620) from ticket touting have been spared jail after a court heard they have been "signed up" by ManU, according to Chris Osuh of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. Richard Rowe, 54, and his 30-year-old son, Richard Rowe Jr., "cashed in by selling tickets for Manchester derbies and other big fixtures to customers including wealthy Arab businessmen." The Manchester Crown Court heard that the pair were supplied by ManU season ticket holders "who were unable to attend games and had heard about their 'service.'" Police do not know how much the match tickets went for, but it is understood that "some fans were able to recoup the cost of their season tickets by doing business with the Rowes, who made substantial profits for themselves on top." The court heard that the pair's new venture, Spectate Live Ltd., has been authorized by ManU "to resell tickets for the Manchester Suite at Old Trafford" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 8/21).

Brazil's tourism board said that "it has officially told FIFA and hotel operators to negotiate lowering prices during the 2014 World Cup," according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. The request came just days after a study showed that room rates will be up to 500% more expensive during the World Cup "in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency MATCH Services." The tourism board, known as Embratur, said MATCH and the hotels need to find a way to reverse the "stratospheric increase" of rates announced for the World Cup period next year. MATCH said it had not yet received the request, but would "welcome any attempt the government would make to help us lower prices and would fully support such initiatives." In the document sent to FIFA and the hotel operators, Embratur also said that "MATCH should change the current policy on blocking rooms and should reduce its mark-up rates." The document, obtained exclusively by the AP said, "We propose that the companies involved conduct new rounds of negotiations to lead to a restructuring of the prices" (AP, 8/20).