Jersey Sales Won’t Help Pay For Neymar’s Insane $263 Million Release Clause

Our estimates suggest PSG would have to sell about 18 million jerseys to recuperate Neymar’s release clause.

There is a myth that jersey sales can help recuperate the transfer fee for a new player, that a player’s popularity can overcome a high asking price for a player. The fact is, Neymar’s $263 million release clause to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain will hardly be dented by the French club selling a few more jerseys.

Let’s take a look at some numbers. 

First, let’s assume the average jersey costs $100, a nice round number that is sometimes too much, sometimes too little, depending upon the quality of the jersey. If we just took this at face value, it would take 2,630,000 Neymar jerseys to fly off shelves to accommodate the Brazilian’s release clause. 

PSG sold 685,000 jerseys in 2016, good for ninth in the world. That would mean PSG would have to sell nearly four times as many jerseys next year to make up the $263 million fee. 

Neymar has the sixth most popular jersey in the world, a number likely to increase as he adds legions of French fans to his throng of Brazilian and worldwide followers. But even if he was the most popular, he wouldn’t be able to sell 2.6 million jerseys. 

Lionel Messi owns the most popular jersey. Barcelona sold 1,980,000 jerseys in 2016, third behind Manchester United and Real Madrid. Most were Messi jerseys. With plenty of other stars on the Catalan club, there’s no way Neymar came close to even half of the Barcelona jerseys sold. 

If we take a step back and look at average jersey sales over a five-year span, Barcelona averaged 1,278,000 jerseys sold from the 2011-12 season to the 2015-16 season, compared to 526,000 for PSG during the same span. Barcelona’s average is less than half of the necessary Neymar jerseys that must be sold.

But it gets worse for PSG. The Parisiens won’t see most of the money from Neymar’s jersey sales. 

PSG has a deal with Nike that runs from 2013-2022 worth $25 million per year, though they’ve been trying to renegotiate since last fall. In comparison, Barcelona will bring in $132.4 million per year from Nike with a deal that will start in 2018. Nike is the entity that sells player jerseys, not PSG, so the majority of jersey revenue goes into Phil Knight’s pockets. 

PSG will likely gain some revenue on top of the $25 million if they sell more than a given amount. Given PSG’s average jersey sales in recent years, let’s just hypothesize the threshold for PSG to make money off jerseys is 500,000. People in the know have suggested after reaching that mark, a club might get 15 percent of sales, so we can put that number at roughly $15 per jersey after 500,000.

With all that in mind, PSG would need to sell about 18 million Neymar jerseys to earn back the $263 million transfer fee. That’s nine jerseys for every Paris resident or one for every four French residents. 

If PSG could just sell one Neymar jersey for every 413 people on Earth, they might just recuperate Neymar’s massive transfer fee. 

No doubt, PSG will use Neymar's arrival to improve its deal with Nike, and both the club and Ligue 1 will receive greater interest across the globe. Though PSG doesn’t really need the money thanks to its well-endowed Qatari owners, it certainly won’t be making the money back through jersey sales. 

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