Paris Saint-Germain’s decision to bid farewell to the era of superstars was met with approval by many supporters. The Qatari-led club allowed Lionel Messi to depart as a free agent and sold Neymar to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal for around $95 million.
The French giants clinched their 11th league title last term. However, it only secured that title by a margin of one point. Considering PSG’s abundant resources compared to other French clubs, that was an insufficient gap for a title. In the year prior, PSG finished a commanding 15 points ahead of Marseille.
Adding to the challenges, the Red-and-Blues, led by Christophe Galtier at the time, once again fell short of their UEFA Champions League aspirations. They suffered a heart-breaking 3-0 aggregate loss to Bayern in the last 16 stage, exiting the same stage for the second year in a row.
Fans were worried about club’s identity
As the season progressed, Messi and Neymar became focal points for frustrated fans. The Argentine faced a brief suspension for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia, while the Brazilian had long been subject to questions about his commitment.
For a portion of the Parisians’ fan base, the duo also represented the club’s aspirations extending beyond the field. As PSG continues its efforts to establish itself as a global brand with high-profile international stars, there was a potential risk of diminishing local identity.
While the decision to part ways with the core forwards made sense from a sporting perspective, it did impact the business side of things. The exits of the two superstars have prompted concerns among some of the club’s key sponsors.
Messi and Neymar departures severely hurt PSG
The French side unveiled the high-profile signing of Lionel Messi in the summer of 2021. Immediately, PSG’s social accounts surged to new heights. Over his two-year stint at the Parc des Princes, PSG’s social following grew by over 20 million.
However, following his departure, the Ligue 1 champions’ social media profile plummeted. Between 10 and 15 million people unfollowed the social pages. Consequently, PSG’s sponsors have begun to rethink their investment in the project.
For instance, cryptocurrency company ‘Crypto.com’ inked a three-year partnership worth $9 million with PSG after Messi’s signing. There is one year remaining on the partnership. The business is seeking to renegotiate the financial terms, with ongoing discussions in progress, L’Equipe claims.
Interestingly, even Qatari sponsors have been sluggish in fulfilling their sponsorship payments to the club. For example, Ooredoo and Qatar Airways are hurting PSG’s commercial team. The club failed to find sponsors for its training facility and the back of its kits.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Crystal Pix
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