Lower-than-expected growth in international TV rights and a 10 percent drop in shirt sales are two possible negative effects on Paris Saint-Germain‘s coffers if Leo Messi‘s departure is confirmed this summer, according to sports marketing experts consulted by EFE.
However, these specialists also highlight positive aspects of his expected departure in June. Specifically, the reduction of the wage bill and an improvement in the image of PSG itself, which has been accused on several occasions of being too lenient with its stars.
One of the first negative effects of a Ligue 1 without Messi could be the downward renegotiation of international rights, which would affect both PSG and the rest of the top clubs. The contract with the current broadcaster, Qatar’s Bein Sports, expires in 2024.
Ligue 1 currently earns 80 million euros a year from sales outside France, a derisory amount compared to the Spanish championship and, above all, the Premier League (around 2 billion euros per season).
“There may be an influence when it comes to renegotiating the international rights that end in 2024,” acknowledges Virgile Caillet, one of France’s best-known sports marketing executives.
Vincent Chaudel, another expert in the field, agrees that “it is not the same to negotiate abroad with markets such as Asia or Latin America” with Messi and Neymar in Ligue 1. “Let’s say that in the next contract the international rights will progress because they are currently very low, but not so much if those two are not in France,” notes Chaudel, who adds that if Messi goes to a league that competes with France, such as Spain, the eventual damage to Ligue 1 would be greater.
Fewer PSG shirts
Sidelined from the club for two weeks because of his promotional trip to Saudi Arabia, the Argentine star’s departure is a foregone conclusion just two seasons after he landed in Paris from Barcelona. And yet his renewal for another year, until June 2024, was close to happening.
If Messi ends up packing his bags, PSG would at least manage to amortize a large part of what it has paid for the Argentine captain (to whom it pays around 80 million euros per season, including salary, social security payments and incentives), an investment that would have even been profitable if the club had at least reached the Champions League semi-finals (it has lost in the last two editions in the round of 16).
In any case, Messi can claim the medals for having attracted at least eight new sponsorships and for having given a huge boost to PSG‘s shirt sales, which comfortably exceeded one million in 2022.
“Maybe there could be a drop in those sales, around 10 percent,” ventures Caillet. A figure that Chaudel also considers realistic. An eventual decrease in revenue that “will not shake” the club’s finances at all, he adds. Only 20pc of the total price of the jerseys goes to the club, as most of it goes to the manufacturer and the distributor. Messi also contributed to the visibility on PSG‘s networks, which in January 2022 reached 150 million followers, 50pc more than in the previous year.
All this helped accelerate the club’s revenues, which, excluding TV rights and match tickets, hit a record 350 million a year.
However, both Caillet and Chaudel play down Messi‘s eventual departure and even see positive aspects.
“PSG is often accused of being too soft on its stars. By sanctioning Messi, it sends a strong message,” says Caillet.
In addition, he continues to explain, his possible departure will lower the wage bill and help the Parisian club move closer to UEFA’s financial fair play parameters, which would allow it to make signings in the summer transfer window.