Most people who have a working knowledge of the industry in Latin America will agree that the footballing landscape in the region is colourful, varied, and at times wild. Gaining a clear insight into the local industry can require patience, a network of personal contacts and a strong understanding of local culture. Given the size of its market, Mexico catches the attention of all the big players in the industry, yet it remains an intriguing, and in some cases, frustrating market for business.
Considering its vast geographic size and population of over 130 million, the Mexican league, namely Liga MX, certainly has a lot of potential to tap into, both on the sporting and the commercial side. It is the largest, most attractive and best paid league in the Americas, with average gross annual salaries ranging from USD $350,000 to USD $400,000. These salaries entice talented players from across the region, which means the standard of football in Liga MX is substantially higher than leagues in South America.
Furthermore, millions of Mexicans in the US regularly tune into Liga MX games, meaning the pulling power of Mexican football currently dwarfs that of the MLS (Major League Soccer), which has an average of just 300,000 viewers per game. To put that into context, last year’s Liga MX Apertura Final featuring C.F. America against Monterrey recorded 3.3m TV viewers on US channel Univision.
The decision was made this year to suspend relegation and promotion in Liga MX until 2026. This could be appealing to foreign investment vehicles, especially US institutional investors, as it would guarantee stability for prospective buyers’ investment into a club by effectively ring-fencing their assets for at least the next 5 years. The recent announcement of closer alignment of Liga MX with MLS would seem to support this, and we anticipate a substantial increase in cross-border commercial deals within the next 12 months.
The table below provides a comparative breakdown of revenue across the English Premier League (EPL), Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX:
Commercial 28% Revenue MLS: Matchday 50% Broadcast 10% Commercial 40%
Liga MX: Matchday 20 to 25% Broadcast 50 to 60% Commercial 25 to 30%
The breakdown of Liga MX revenue varies substantially from club to club (hence the ranges), due to independent TV deals struck by clubs, with match day and commercial revenue being very different.
With Matchday income temporarily on hold, Liga MX clubs have also been hit the withdrawal of commercial sponsors. It is not uncommon for these clubs to strike a commercial deal with a brewery for exclusive sale of their product in the stadium. The pandemic has naturally seen several clubs lose these deals due to empty stadiums and looking for other commercial opportunities to shore up their financial position.
There is now is a great opportunity for Mexican football to bridge the gap with Europe by aggressively tapping into data analytics, global sports technology and exploring international commercial ventures. We anticipate that the next 36 months will see an exciting rise in engagement of Liga MX and FMF with both national and international players in the football industry, all supporting alignment with the MLS, general progress and preparation of the World Cup in 2026.
Alexander Mahoney is Head Of Operations at 44SPORTS
(44Sports a specialist football consultancy based in Mexico)