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Cristiano Ronaldo: The billionaire businessman you probably don’t know about

The mercurial Portuguese sets the bar for other professional footballers when it comes to making money off the pitch.



Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive for COVID-19

When you hear the name Cristiano Ronaldo, what probably comes to your mind is the image of the exceptionally talented, handsome, and successful football player that has taken the term “world-class” to another pedestal.

Records upon records have been broken by this 36-year old, and the best part is that it seems he is not stopping anytime soon. However, there is more to football when it comes to the Portuguese. He is an avid businessman.

Yes, you heard that right. Ronaldo recently became the first footballer, and only the third sportsperson, after Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather Jnr., to hit the $1bn mark in terms of earnings. He cost over a $100m while swapping Real Madrid for Juventus back in 2018, while he will also earn close to $140m, if he stays for the entirety of his 4-year contract.  While his on-pitch successes have brought him a lot of fortune, he has made more off it.

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo emerges first billionaire footballer ahead of Lionel Messi

He is 36 now, which means he is closer to the end of his career, and while many players opt to go towards the football line after their playing days are over, Ronaldo has consistently stated that he doesn’t see himself in football after he retires.

Since he clocked 30 years old back in 2015, he has been actively pursuing business opportunities that would continue to fetch him money even after he hangs up his boots.

This article highlights 4 ways in which the mercurial Portuguese has set the bar for other professional footballers when it comes to making money off the pitch.

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The name of the game is endorsement

Ronaldo has been able to milk his public persona to good and effective use. He is adored by millions of fans all over the world for his consistency, excellence and longevity. These attributes make him the perfect fit for tons of businesses who jostle for his signature to be their brand ambassadors. His deal with Nike will see him earn at least $19m a year until he is 73 years old. He also has sponsorship deal with Herbalife, KFC, Castrol, and Samsung.

He has been able to leverage the sheer numbers of his followers across different social media platforms. He has 91m followers on Twitter, approximately 125m follow him on Facebook, while a whopping 266m people follow him on Instagram. A combined fan base of 482m means that he commands a high price for endorsements, as brands would pay over the odds to see him promote their goods and services.

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Partnerships all the way

For all his success on the pitch, Ronaldo has astute business sense. In 2019, while speaking about his partnership with Insparya, a haircare group, Ronaldo said, “Alopecia is a very big problem in Europe and around the world and we want to help people improve their self-esteem and not be ashamed to come to us. This project is going to be a success, as we want to help the Spaniards and the Spanish economy.”

Ronaldo also has interests in the hospitality industry through his partnership with the Pestana Hotel Group. There are currently five hotels: one each in Lisbon and Madeira, his hometown while finishing touches are being put in place for three locations in New York, Madrid and Marrakech. CR7 Pestana Paris will also open in 2021, with the Portuguese looking at more premium locations to further establish his brand.

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Varied Investment Portfolio

He also has a stake in Grupo Mabel Capital alongside Spanish celebrities such as Pau Gasol, Rafa Nadal and Enrique Iglesias. Grupo own the chain of restaurants called Tatel, which has presence in Madrid, Miami and famous resort and holiday town, Ibiza. He has also invested in Zela Restaurants, which has outlets in both London and Ibiza.

Ronaldo’s investments surely won’t seem right if he doesn’t own or run a fitness line. His determination to excel in his career has seen him reach unbelievable levels of fitness. His match recovery regimen and nutrition is well-known, which has seen him score an astonishing 300 goals since turning 30. In 2016, he agreed a partnership with Crunch Fitness, with two CR7 Crunch Gyms still running in Madrid.

He also has a creative agency named 7EGEND, whose credo, according to their website, is to “create innovative solutions and experiences, through the best thinking, strategy, design and engineering”. 7EGEND designed the websites for Valencia FC as well as the store for the Portuguese national team.

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Multiple businesses

CR7, as he is fondly called has well-known businesses and investments in fashion, namely high-end underwear and luxurious fragrances. His underwear line, CR7 underwear sell briefs, trunks, socks for men and boys. He also has a footwear brand that deals with a diverse product range including boots, slippers, casuals, as well as belts, wallets and bags.

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Ronaldo does fragrances too. He is actively involved in the ideation, design, branding, as well as production of the different fragrances, selling other products such as aftershaves, shower gels, deodorants, as well as other men’s grooming products. There is also the CR7 Museu, a museum in his native Madeira. It showcases over 100 trophies and medals he has won in his prestigious career till date.

One Last Thing…

Ronaldo has earned praise for his remarkable 19-year football career but even more, praise should go his way for the way he has been able to manage himself off-pitch, which means that if he decides to retire today, he has his pick of what could be the next career for him. An astute businessman indeed.


Written by Ademola Kadiri


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    A typical football viewing centre experience in Nigeria

    The centres are stadium-like atmosphere with banter, laughter, pre-match and post-match analysis that sometimes become heated.



    Nigerian Bars are killing the viewing centre business, further threatening MultiChoice 

    It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in Lagos and as you drive down the narrow street lined with cars to attend the naming ceremony of your colleague’s newborn son, a horde of young men come rushing onto the street from a nondescript building at the corner.

    Your first reaction is to slow down and watch their next move, another part of you wants to quickly get out of the way to avoid any untoward occurrence. There is a brief and palpable fear inside the car as you scan the faces of the crowd passing by, trying to make out their words and expressions. Suddenly, your eyes light up. Alas! The furore is a simple football banter.

    Scenes such as the one described above are a regular occurrence in Lagos and most parts of Nigeria; welcome to the weekend ritual and the allure of the Football Viewing Centre.

    From mid-day on weekends and some midweek evenings during the European football season, you will find young men crammed into halls, rooms, makeshift theatres, sports lounges and every available space to watch football, mainly the English Premier League (which is the most popular league), the Spanish La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. It is a thriving multi-million naira industry born of the love Nigerians have for football and the widely available broadcasts from Multichoice (DSTV) in Nigeria.

    The public viewing of football matches taps into the communal nature of Nigerians that makes viewing matches alone uninteresting and very ‘unNigerian.’ The period of DSTV’s entry into Nigeria coincided with the peak of Nigerian football when the Super Eagles were African Champions and qualified for their first World Cup. Stadium attendance was very high. The public viewing centres became an extension of the Stadiums and sprung up in locations all over the nation.

    A typical viewing centre is a bungalow-like structure or shed with rows of wooden benches arranged to face the different tv screens showing the matches on offer. Outside, a handwritten display on a chalkboard shows the scheduled matches and their viewing times for the information of the prospective attendees. To keep out the prying eyes of those who want to watch matches for free, a tarpaulin cover is installed around the structure to ensure only paying customers can watch the matches.

    Consequently, giant fans are provided to ease the inevitable heat from a mass of bodies all crammed together. These days, UPS and Inverters are installed to keep the decoder running before the generator is put on; when the inevitable power cut occurs. This ensures the audience does not miss out on any exciting moments of the match while the decoder reboots after a power cut.

    Payment is made at the entrance of the hall, most times per match but regular patrons are allowed to make payment ahead for the total number of matches they might wish to view. Patrons are handed a ticket as proof of payment and the cost of viewing a match on average is N100, while N200 is charged for matches showing simultaneously. Average occupancy is between 50 – 100 patrons and for eagerly anticipated matches, viewership can be even beyond the original occupancy levels of the centre. A typical Saturday line up in the EPL has the games scheduled one after the other and patrons are encouraged to pay a flat rate of N200 for 3 games in a row or pay N100 for each individual game. At the end of each game, the centre is emptied out and paid customers let back in before the commencement of a new game.


    Viewing centres have evolved over time from single-screen locations in the early 2000s to multi-screen locations, with some of them offering other forms of entertainment such as snooker tables and video games like PES and FIFA to maintain patronage. In the age of sports betting, many viewing centres have also incorporated betting shops as one of their offerings. People place their bets and are encouraged to stay behind to watch the games and see the progression of their betting tickets.

    Once the patron has made the requisite payment and is allowed entry, he gets to sit in one of a row of seats (mostly wooden as rowdy fans have been known to occasionally destroy plastic chairs), usually seating up to 5 persons. The screens are arranged in a way to create the impression of being able to watch multiple matches at the same time; though, in time, the patron finds out that it is easier to focus on one match.

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    It is a raucous, stadium-like atmosphere with banter, laughter, pre-match and post-match analysis that sometimes become heated. As is typical of any place where young Nigerians are gathered, there is always the inevitable shift to politics and other burning national issues.

    Viewing centres do not sell alcoholic beverages but sell other kinds of drinks to provide refreshment to the patrons and act as a source of additional income for the owners. On a typical weekend in the thick of the Football Season, a regular-sized viewing centre that can sit between 50 – 100 people showing an average of 4 matches per day can rake in upwards of N56,000 over a busy weekend before deducting expenses and exclusive of income from drinks and other refreshments.

    In most middle income / affluent neighbourhoods, sports lounges have emerged as both an alternative and another form of the viewing centre. The sports lounge is basically a watering hole that encompasses drinks, food and other edibles in a cool and comfortable environment. Here, the patrons do not have to pay an entry fee but are required to purchase drinks or food.

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    The typical patron is a young, urbane and upwardly mobile professional looking for fun and an alternate way to unwind. The attraction for patrons is the ambience, comfort and the ability to mingle with friends while watching their favourite team play. Due to the availability of space, the arrangement of a sports lounge is markedly different from that of a viewing centre. The seats are plush and more comfortable and are arranged around tables in small clusters with a TV screen as a focal point.

    The drinks are usually pricy with alcoholic beverages starting at N1000 per bottle and high-end spirits selling from as much as N16,000 per bottle. Due to the absence of a gate fee, the onus is on the operators of the sports lounge to find new innovative ways to attract more patronage and to increase the sale of their different offerings.

    The key expenses for both the viewing centre and the sports lounge are the cost of subscription for DSTV, generator costs and rent. These costs differ substantially based on the location, availability of public power supply and any ancillary cost peculiar to the establishment. Power is an ever-present cost for any business operating in Nigeria and consists of both the cost of powering and maintaining a generator (either diesel or petrol) and payment for public power consumed (prepaid or postpaid).

    All in all, the viewing centre business, though a cyclical one dependent on the Football season in Europe, is a lucrative one if well run and managed.



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    Business Half Hour

    Gbagada FC – How a community football club is providing entertainment for Lagosians

    “It is all about passion, and at Gbagada FC, we dare to dream,” says Akinyelu.



    From being an evening pastime for people to relax after work, Gbagada FC has grown in the last 7 years to become a standard community football club, now known as the Blue Eagles. The club now plays in the third tier league in Nigerian football and is focused on winning the hearts of and entertaining residents in the Shomolu local government area of Lagos state.

    Founder and club chairman of Gbagada FC, Olajide Akinyelu, says that inspiration for the club came after he bagged his certification as a coach, and decided to turn what had been an evening past-time into a proper grassroots club. This informed the name – Gbagada FC.

    Akinyelu who despite his love for the game, missed out on being a professional footballer himself, has hopes that Gbagada FC has talents who would take football on as a career and go international.

    “There is no football club based in Somolu in the top tier. We currently play at the third tier and we hope to play at the first tier in due time,” Akinyelu said in the Nairametrics Business Half Hour Show.

    At the third tier level, Gbagada FC has to play with other grassroots clubs run by individuals, religious bodies and other groups.

    Like every other sport, soccer needs funding to thrive. Support from corporate bodies and organizations have played a critical part in Gbagada FC’s growth but the club has also had to explore several sources of funding to push through the years.

    “The higher you go, the easier it becomes to generate funds in the football league. At the third tier league, our model is built around our home games and that is what we present to these corporate bodies that support us. We have people coming to watch our games.

    Of course, like you see from the big clubs in Europe, there is money to be made from transfers and all that, but such money is reinvested into getting the same quality of player back into the squad. We understand that within here, even without selling a player, we can actually sustain the club. We raise funds from match day tickets, sponsorship from the corporate world, like shirt sponsors, slip sponsors and other packages that we have. That is how we do it currently and how we intend to go,” Akinyelu explained.


    The 2020 coronavirus pandemic did take its toll on availability of funds from corporate bodies but the club was able to fall back on its alternative plans, and push through the football season. The target is to recruit talents at the local level, keep them busy with the training and build them into players that can play at the international level.

    “In terms of recruitment, we have about five or six prospects we believe strongly can make it pro, young players doing really fine. We believe we are on the right track in terms of getting the players, working on them and getting them ready for the real deal” Akinyelu said.

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    Footballs is a sport that has the ability to bring young boys in the community together for relaxation, but in order to be taken seriously, Gbagada FC is a step ahead. The club has a media team that consists of young men and women who handle social media, photography, graphics, and website maintenance. There is also a commentator that keeps the games alive with a well-spiced up commentary.


    One would expect that a community football club has to deal with competition from other football clubs but it is not so for Gbagada FC. According to Akinyelu, competition comes in form of other pastimes competing for the same audience, and other forms of entertainment competing for funding from the same corporate bodies.

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    When music and comedy concerts are to be held, it is the same Corporate bodies and organizations that receive applications for support, and every organization can only have so much to invest into the entertainment industry. In this way, the football clubs have to compete with other entertainment outfits for the same limited funding.

    There are also sports betting platforms to compete with, as this also appeals to the same football audience. “You find that someone can use N1000 on sports betting daily but will find it difficult to pay N500 to watch one of our games. So, the direct competitor for us is the betting companies because the kind of audience they have are the ones coming to our games, and they are the ones getting the money from our audience,” Akinyelu explained.

    The goal is to get to the higher tier where the audience will now pay more to see the club’s matches during the weekend matches and friendly games.

    “In the next 10 years, we should really be at our A-game, playing at the NFL and maybe at the CAF competitions. We also hope to own a 30,000 capacity stadium within Gbagada because that will really help us achieve all that we want to. It is all about passion, and at Gbagada FC, we dare to dream,” Akinyelu said.

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