• Saturday, July 20, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

MLS: Inter Miami, Lionel Messi and the football equity investment

The Major League Soccer (MLS) have gained tremendous traffic since the $60 million per year Lionel Messi deal with Inter Miami.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner turned down a record offer of €400m ($436m) per year from Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal, opting instead to join MLS side Inter Miami.

The Argentine is expected to earn between $50 to $60 million per year in salaries, signing bonus and a stake to own part of the club at the end of contract that runs till December 2025, with an option an additional year to 2026.

Currently 15th on the American MLS League Eastern Conference for the 2023/24 season table, Messi’s signing has brought some off-field impact on Inter Miami who recorded a 1000 percent jump in the cheapest available secondary ticket for his first match for the club.

The club’s Instagram account had about 900,000 followers on the day the Argentine was announced as an Inter Miami player, which saw the number surged to 3.2 million by 7 pm Eastern time after the announcement, an increase of 2.3 million followers in just over seven hours.

After Messi joined the Ligue 1 team in 2021, PSG saw a similar impact, gaining 5.6 million social media followers in just one week.

Beyond surge in social media followers, the club also recorded a pike in ticket sales, and other merchandise. The contract will also give him a share of an Apple broadcast deal while Inter Miami will leverage on the signing to experience a similar boost from business arrangements and clothing sales.

Read also: Saudi Arabia set to launch multibillion-dollar sports investment group

On the other hand, the deal will be beneficial to third party interest like Adidas who currently have Messi within their talent stable and are one of MLS’ oldest sponsors.

Inter Miami home jersey, known as “The Heart Beat Kit” has recorded 25 percent increase on the back of the Messi effect flying off the shelves since it was made available.

The authentic version of the jersey is currently selling for $195 in the team’s online shop. However, Adidas is finding it difficult to keep up with demand, thereby experiencing a repeat of the Qatar 2022 supply clitch.

The German brand could not fulfill the immediate demand of Messi shirts with a third gold star after Argentina won the Qatar World Cup.

Adidas recently signed a 10-year contract valued at $830 million dollars to supply all of MLS’ teams with uniforms until 2030.

On the field, Messi made a direct impact on the club scoring twice and providing an assist in his first start for Inter Miami in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United.

The Argentina forward, 36, scored two inside the opening 22 minutes before setting up team-mate Robert Taylor in the second half.

After netting his second, Messi celebrated by pointing at Inter Miami owner David Beckham.

That performance followed a match-winning stoppage-time free-kick on his debut for Inter Miami.

The 2022 World Cup-winner scored 32 goals in 75 games during a two-year spell with the French champions and turned down lucrative offers from other countries to play in the US.

Messi was substituted in the 78th minute to a standing ovation, with a number of fans leaving the 20,000-seat DRV PNK Stadium shortly afterwards.