Business / #ForbesBusiness

June 19, 2017,   4:17 PM

What's The Business Fallout Of Cristiano Ronaldo Leaving Real Madrid?

Chris Smith


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The big news in the soccer world this week is that, following accusations of tax evasion, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly interested in leaving club team Real Madrid and the nation of Spain altogether.

It's tough to say just how serious the situation is right now, but such a split would have a huge impact not only on soccer's competitive landscape - Ronaldo just finished leading Real Madrid to its second consecutive Champions League title - but also on the sports business universe.

So what, exactly, would be the fallout of such a momentous split?

Thanks to the Forbes SportsMoney Index, we can actually quantify what the business impact would look like. In the current ranking, Real Madrid ranks fourth while Ronaldo is sixth.

The main driver of those high ranks are the huge business successes of both: Madrid is now worth $3.6 billion, good for third-most among soccer teams, while Ronaldo is the world's highest-paid athlete with earnings of $93 million.

But our ranking also accounts for influence throughout the sports world, and both team and player greatly benefit from being associated with one another.

Simply removing that connection has an immediate - and sizable - impact on the ranks. Real Madrid drops to No. 15 on the list, sitting among the likes of the New York Giants, Coca-Cola and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That's still great company, but hardly the top-five spot the team currently occupies. The fall for Ronaldo would be much greater. Without Real Madrid, the superstar striker would be at No. 37, a spot currently held by Derrick Rose (and just a few places ahead of current teammate Gareth Bale).

Of course Ronaldo will find a job elsewhere, but few teams offer the same boost as Real Madrid. A return to Manchester United would keep him in his No. 6 spot, but any other realistic destination would drop him lower in the ranks.

Some have suggested he could land with French club Paris Saint-Germain, which would put him at No. 15, behind Lionel Messi and just ahead of Eli Manning. He'd wind up in the same territory (or lower) by returning to the Premier League for any team besides Manchester United.

Real Madrid would also likely make a major investment in a replacement for Ronaldo. No soccer player matches Ronaldo's earning power, but another top-tier soccer player - say someone in the same tier as Zlatan Ibrahimovic - would be enough to keep the team among the top ten, if just barely.

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