Osoka Blog

by Olsen Kahiriri Thu, 30 Sep 2021.

Have you ever wondered how international clubs can afford to pay their players and staff all the outrageous salaries we see on television and in the newspapers? Speaking for myself, as a seasoned football fan, I have always wondered how clubs support themselves financially, considering the amounts of money they pay week-in and week-out. That was until I went to Barcelona, and uncovered the unfathomable financial flow.

I discovered that broadcasting rights, match day revenue, sponsorship, merchandise, transfers and prize money are revenue streams injecting life into football clubs globally.
Television audiences have evolved to exhibit preference to talent. I suggest that the notion of a pure sporting contest in which uncertainty on the outcome is no longer relevant, and more importantly the extent to which sports teams and leagues can increase the quality of talent on show.

Local and foreign television stations bid for rights to broadcast live matches to billions of football fans who are ever so eager to watch these matches. For example, in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports and BT Sports own rights to cover the Premier League, which they acquired for 5 Billion Pounds (about 100 Billion Namibian Dollars) in a 4-year deal (2015 – 2019). This money was shared equally amongst the clubs. That amounted to roughly 81 Million Pounds (just over one and a half Billion Namibian Dollars) per club and that’s only considering deals in the UK alone.
To date, 20 broadcasters hold rights to cover the Premier League in China alone, and there are over 100 broadcasters who hold rights to show the same league worldwide including SuperSport in Mzansi. They all pay buck loads of cash to cover these matches that is why MultiChoice increases its subscription fees annually to acquire these rights. Today you can watch these matches on your mobile phone with data that could cost the same amount of money as a ticket to go watch the match live. As for the local broadcaster, they would rather get paid to screen matches live, could there be a lack of understanding? Maybe, another topic for another day. I can only assume the experts at large stay hopeful that one day, we will get this right.

When a football team plays at home (at their own/rented stadiums) they sell tickets on match day. The size of a football club’s stadium and the ticket price determines how much the club makes on match day. In a league with 16 clubs, the club gets to play 15 matches at home per season. The Sam Nujoma Stadium’s full capacity is 20 000 spectators, if you charge 60 Namibian Dollars per supporter, they earn 1.2 Million Namibian Dollars… that’s at full capacity per match. Now you know why clubs want to build bigger stadiums or expand the sitting capacity of existing ones.
When it comes to brands; they pay huge amounts of money for clubs to flight their adverts. Chevrolet pays Manchester United roughly 60 Million Pounds per year to have their logo and name on their jersey, Adidas pays United another 80 Million Pounds per year to sponsor their kits.

With this in mind and all the mind bending figures put together, let’s zone in on possibly the biggest move of the transfer window in recent history. When Lionel Messi was announced as Paris Saint-Germain’s newest player, the fans, media and the entire football world went mad, like I mean every corner, it was all you could hear, and even the not so big soccer lovers had to acknowledge that this was huge. My colleagues who prefer alternative sports like F1 racing and synchronised swimming, became a fan of the beautiful game for a while.

Fans waited in lines that rival those of the good old sneaker heads’ campout days to buy the Argentine’s jersey outside the official PSG store in Paris. Stock reportedly sold out in record time on the club’s online store. Some say that PSG sold 250 000 Messi jerseys in an hour on their official site. PSG sold over 830 000 jerseys in the first 24 hours after Messi’s signing was announced. Now for some maths… if a jersey costs 130 US Dollars, and he was transferred for about 30 Million US Dollars, see where I am going with this?

So, football is a lucrative commercial industry that is why Chinese billionaires are buying clubs in Europe as the clubs’ share prices grow by up to 200% year in and year out. Namibian Football must get professional despite the juridico-political and political economic forces it experiences, and hope we get to enjoy the picture I painted above of monetisation of football which is possible when we put our priorities right.

What is currently happening is causing confusion to those who want to invest in the beautiful game locally, (It irks me to see what is happening to the beautiful game in our beloved country).

This fracas has created a lot of public debate and an eruption of public unease, transgression and conflict within Namibian Football settings with respect to these forces. We must end this and start a new page, we hope to enjoy the game sooner rather than later and attract the much-needed investment to build our beautiful game, that’s the reason for my rant this month, till next time I am your blogger Olsen. Please engage with us and let us discuss all things soccer.

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Till next time. I’m out!