Last week in America, LeBron James went back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. A lot of people saw it as a victory for American values, a victory for the little guy and for old-fashioned fairness. LeBron is going back to play for his hometown! No more of this teaming-up-with-other-stars-to-make-a-superteam nonsense! Finally, finally, small-market Cleveland might win a title!
This week in Europe, Premier League soccer giants Manchester United signed a jersey deal with Adidas worth around 75 million pounds ($128 million) per year. That money—which is separate, by the way, from the 53 million pounds per year Chevrolet has agreed to pay to plaster its logo across the jersey’s chest—is more than double the size of the next nearest “kit deal,” Arsenal’s with Puma. And it’s more than the total revenue of nine of the Premier League’s 20 clubs in the year 2011-2012. In short, some soccer teams in Europe are relatively poor, and some are very, very rich.
While the Germans were celebrating their nation’s World Cup triumph, some of those very rich clubs were busy figuring out which poorer ones were unfortunate enough to have a player perform well at the tournament. Can little Real Sociedad afford to keep the promising French winger Antoine Griezmann? Has Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev gotten bored with his new plaything Monaco FC yet? Real Madrid would be happy to take Colombia wonderkid James Rodriguez off his hands. Premier League overachievers Southampton had three English stars snapped up by Liverpool and Manchester United before a ball was even kicked in Brazil.