The growing soccer card market got a big boost on Sat., Sept. 11 as Cristiano Ronaldo made a glorious return to his former club, Manchester United.
While soccer has clearly supplanted auto racing as the fifth largest sport in the sports card market, there really is no North American comparable to Ronaldo joining Manchester United. If there was a Mount Rushmore for soccer, Ronaldo, Messi and Pele are three of the four faces. Fans can eternally argue over the fourth one.
Although the Dallas Cowboys are listed are considered the most valuable sports franchise in the world, the Ronaldo signing had an overall effect on Manchester United’s standing in the sports world order. Manchester United, valued at just under $4 billion, was the sixth ranked sports franchise, and third most valuable soccer team in the world behind Barcelona FC and Real Madrid. It’s very possible that the Ronaldo signing will bump Manchester United into the top four.
According to the Sun in the UK, Manchester United’s stock prices rose by 9.8 per cent immediately after Ronaldo’s signing. The rise caused the value of Manchester United to instantly jump by 271 million pounds ($374 million US).
“The club are a football superpower who already lead other major teams in their effectiveness to harness revenue streams and the re-signing of Ronaldo helps them maximise this,” said Mike Owens, Global Sales Trader at financial trading platform Saxo Markets, in the Sun article.
“The 36-year-old – who boasts over 330 million Instagram followers – has already seen some record-breaking numbers since his transfer last month.
“The news of his move received over 17 tweets per second in the first hour after the announcement and early shirt sales broke all records with Ronaldo becoming the fastest selling player in 24 hours of a transfer announcement.
“Manchester United will hope to maximise this interest through their brand partnerships by signing more lucrative contracts in the near future.”
Across all social media platforms, Ronaldo has approximately a half billion followers. Manchester United, on the other hand, had 140 million followers. There is wide speculation in Europe among financial experts that Ronaldo’s signing may have a better chance of monetizing social media reach than any other signing in sports history.
For the soccer card market, Ronaldo’s signing and what has transpired has been the perfect storm. In the first week after his first game with Manchester United, eBay sales of Ronaldo cards and related items were close to a quarter million dollars.
The largest card sale was an ungraded 2015-16 Panini Flawless Sole of the Game #11/15 that sold for $17,200.
Among the more interesting items to watch was a PSA 9 2002-03 Upper Deck Ronaldo RC from when he played for Manchester United. That card sold for $2,500, which is a strong price for a rookie card that is not a parallel, not serial numbered or has no signature or game-used swatch.
Having Ronaldo back in his Manchester United kit will boost interest in his new cards. Topps has already featured Ronaldo cards in its Topps Now series.
During his first tenure with Manchester United, Ronaldo scored 118 goals for the Red Devils and became known as one of the world’s most prolific scorers.
In his first game back, he scored a pair of goals to lead Manchester United past Newcastle 4-1. His first was the first marker of the game, and it sent the crowd at Old Trafford into a frenzy.
Just over a week earlier, Ronaldo, playing for Portugal, scored in the 89th minute against Ireland to become the all-time goal scoring leader in international soccer history. The goal was his 110th for Portugal. His 111th goal was the game-winner in extra time in the World Cup qualifying match.
A few days later, Ronaldo scored another big goal on an even bigger stage, as he played his first Champions League game for Manchester United in more than a decade. Unfortunately, the Red Devils lost to Swiss powerhouse Young Boys, but even in defeat, Ronaldo stole the show. During pre-game warm ups, a shot taken by Ronaldo sailed over the bar and struck a female stadium usher who had her back to the field. Ronaldo rushed over to see if the usher, Marisa Noble, was okay. He presented her with an autographed jersey jersey. The clip went viral on Twitter.
Noble’s jersey may be the most famous Ronaldo number 7 jersey owned by a fan, but the stadium steward was just one of the record number of people who obtained a Ronaldo jersey this month. Sales of Manchester United Ronaldo jerseys exploded and set global records after his signing. What is most relevant to the hobby is that Manchester United’s team website, where a large amount of these Adidas jerseys were sold, is operated by Fanatics.
So the question is now out there. While Fanatics is reported to be pushing Topps and Panini out of Major League Baseball, the NFL and NBA, is European soccer next?