Barcelona is currently the world’s second most valuable football club brand, according to the Brand Finance Football 50 2021 report. With a brand value of €1,266m, Barcelona ranks closely behind Real Madrid, which boasts a brand value of just €10m more – €1,276m. Brand value is based on the proportion of revenues that is attributable to the brand; Messi's departure is expected to have direct adverse effects on Barcelona's future sponsorship income, merchandise sales, and matchday revenue. It could also indirectly contribute to a decline of brand value as Barcelona’s brand strength may weaken with diminished fan perceptions and the club’s global following at risk of shrinking.
Looking at Messi’s role in driving revenue for the club across different streams, Brand Finance has estimated that his departure could result in an 11% drop to Barcelona’s brand value. In absolute terms, the club could see a €137m decline to its 2021 brand valuation of €1,266m, and lose any chance of overtaking Real Madrid. With a lower brand value of €1,129m following Messi’s departure, Barcelona could also slide down to third place in the Brand Finance Football 50 2021 ranking behind Manchester United (brand value €1,130m).
Hugo Hensley, Head of Sports Services at Brand Finance, commented:
“Messi is synonymous with the Barcelona brand and has been the club’s talisman since bursting onto the scene 15 years ago. His presence at the club has no doubt allowed it to attract additional fans, better players, managers, commercial deals, and win silverware. His departure can cost the club as much and result in a painful brand value decrease.”
What does Messi’s departure mean for FC Barcelona’s brand value?
Ben Baigrie, Sports Services Consultant at Brand Finance, explains:
It is needless to say that Messi is a global superstar. The key areas where the Argentine player generates value for Barcelona are:
When taking this into account, it’s important to recognise that value must be measured as forward looking – as in to say, how much additional value could Messi generate for Barcelona over the remainder of his career if he were to stay? Whilst one might argue he is approaching the end of his career; Messi has shown little sign of slowing down, registering 38 goals across all competitions in the 2020/2021 season. Many players such as Cristiano Ronaldo (age 36) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (age 39) are still performing at the highest level and there is little to suggest Messi could not go on to play for another 5 years at the top level. However, if Messi was 28, then the value at risk for Barcelona would be significantly higher based on a larger expected future return.
Looking at the impact of Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid in 2018, the club’s brand value decreased by 19%. The club has struggled to replicate its on-pitch success since the Portuguese superstar left for Juventus. This year also saw no Real Madrid players selected for the EURO 2020 Spanish national team, pointing to the club’s struggle for form.
Barcelona can see a very similar impact, but the club’s future actions and performance can play a significant role in mitigating the risk of such a painful brand value drain. Naturally, the value at risk is largely dependent on how Barcelona reacts and performs once he leaves. For example, if they bring in other star players who can help drive better on-pitch performance, shirt sales, and commercial deals, then the impact may be limited.
Brand Finance has estimated the potential impact of Lionel Messi’s departure on FC Barcelona’s brand value by examining the player’s role in driving revenue across key streams, such as commercial and matchday. The proportion of Messi’s value on the transfer market to the total value of the club’s players was used as a proxy for the proportion of the club’s revenues which can be attributed to Messi’s presence in the club.
Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.
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