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With the MLS projected to lose $1 billion is Ronaldo their needed saviour?

Ronaldo, MLS
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The chatter is heating up all over about Cristiano Ronaldo and his potential departure from Juventus.

The 35-year-old star is still playing well for the Italian club, but it seems like Juventus is too cash-strapped – from a combination of the transfer fee and losses from the pandemic – to afford Ronaldo.

Many of the best betting sites give PSG the highest odds to land Ronaldo.  The French club has deep pockets and a propensity to spend like no one, and after watching their first three matches in the 2020-21 Champions League, they may need him.

Still, we should not count out a club – and even the league itself – making a push to land Ronaldo.

Why the MLS needs Cristiano Ronaldo?

Major League Soccer is set to lose $1 billion in revenues this season. To put those numbers in perspective, the EPL revenues expect to drop from $6.59 billion* in 2018-19 to $5.5 billion in revenue – once final numbers are tallied. MLS revenues from 2019 were $1.20 billion – meaning a drop of 83% in revenues, compared to 17% in the EPL.

The MLS needs to recoup this revenue, and one of the best ways for them to do could be by adding Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s addition will help the league increase revenues in two ways: dynamic ticket pricing and more negotiating power in the next tv deal.

Dynamic ticket pricing – if you do not know – is where teams set different gate prices depending on the game, date, and opponent. This practice is common in North America, with teams upping prices for opening day tickets, marquee matchups, holidays, and playoffs.

Whenever Ronaldo and his club come to a city, the ticket prices would be higher, helping some clubs recoup losses. If Ronaldo stays for a few seasons and continues to play at a high level, his addition to the league could levy extra revenue over an extended timeframe.

The MLS could also benefit from Ronaldo – and any other European stars – playing in the MLS when they renegotiate their TV deal. While gate sales are what keep teams afloat, long term lucrative TV deals are what make leagues rich.

Big names like Zlatan Ibrahimović have helped the league set highs in viewership. Excluding the MLS Finals, the highest-rated MLS game was between Ibrahimović’s LA Galaxy and crosstown rival LAFC. Even as stars age out of their primes, it is clear MLS teams have the financial incentive to sign them.

“Dani Alves & Cristiano Ronaldo” by Nathan Congleton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How much could they pay Ronaldo?

The highest-paid base salary player in MLS history is Zlatan Ibrahimović, who made $7.2 million in 2019. That is just over 10% of what Juventus is paying Ronaldo ($70 million) in 2020. When David Beckham joined, he signed a deal worth $6.5 million per year plus a percentage of Galaxy revenue. Over five years, Beckham netted $50 million from the MLS or $10 million per year.

The La Galaxy averages roughly $44 million over those five years with Beckham. That translates to approximately 8% of revenues going to Beckham. In 2019, the top club – Atlanta – made $79 million. If you split that revenue and add in Zlatan’s salary plus a five percent increase, Ronaldo’s potential salary is $13.82 million.

Could a club pay him more? It is tough to answer that until this season wraps up, and the owners meet to discuss the future. If the clubs agree that bringing over Ronaldo will net the league a substantial gain, they may let clubs with deeper pockets offer more. Of course, in that case, only a few places can afford Ronaldo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo” by dalli58 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Where could Ronaldo end up if he comes to the MLS?

Only a few clubs can afford to pay Ronaldo, and even fewer clubs are desirable options. The top places for Ronaldo to go to in the MLS are the Los Angeles Clubs, Miami, and the New York teams. We think if he does decide to come, he will choose between the Galaxy and Miami.

The LA Galaxy have the best odds of landing the star. The Galaxy have a history of landing high-profile players in the twilight of their career – Zlatan and Beckham. They also are a desirable destination, with LA weather and lifestyle. California is notorious for taxes. However, Ronaldo’s career earnings are so significant that the state income tax on whatever he makes there is just a drop in the bucket.

Miami is the other interesting option. Inter Miami is only in its first season, and the roster has not yielded exceptional results. However, David Beckham is an owner and the club president. His experience and enjoyment playing in the MLS could help sway Ronaldo – or potentially other stars – to end their careers in South Beach.

Whatever happens is hard to predict, but you should not rule out a club from the MLS making a push to land Cristiano Ronaldo.

*All figures in this article are listed in USD