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Maradona — was he worth it?

As the dust settles on Diego Maradona’s sacking by Al Wasl, one simple question begs to be asked – was it worth it?

  • By Brian Murgatroyd, Special to XPRESS
  • Published: 23:16 July 18, 2012

  • Image Credit: VIRENDRA SAKLANI/Gulf News
  • How much did Diego Maradona cost Al Wasl? And was it worth it in the end?

DUBAI As the dust settles on Diego Maradona’s sacking by Al Wasl, one simple question begs to be asked – was it worth it?

After all, the Cheetahs’ 14-month liaison with the Argentina World cup winner has not been a cheap thrill.

Maradona’s house was in one of the most exclusive parts of the Palm and it cost Dh750,000. It is very private and only those invited there can gain access to the area

Palm Jumeirah estate agent

To start with, there has been upwards of Dh10 million in wages at a cool Dh800,000 per month, plus the two-months’ salary he is set to receive as a result of his dismissal – another Dh1.6 million.

And all that excludes the salaries of his coaching and support personnel, also shown the exit door at the Zabeel Stadium. A conservative estimate of that cost would be at least another Dh2-3 million.

Diminishing returns

On top of that is the rental cost of the six-bedroom villa on the Palm Jumeirah. An estate agent close to the deal told XPRESS: “Maradona’s house was in one of the most exclusive parts of the Palm and it cost Dh750,000. It is very private and only those invited there can gain access to the area.”

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There was also the hiring of a public relations firm to help manage the global media and public interest his presence created, and even the cost of a driver to take him around Dubai.

On that basis, it is tough to see the club getting much change out of Dh16 million from their association with Maradona.

So, what did they get for that sort of outlay?

In footballing terms, very little. The club finished eighth in the Pro League, made little impression in the domestic cup competitions and suffered a humiliating loss in the final of the Gulf Champions League when two players were sent off for violent conduct. One of them, Majed Naser, was selected by Maradona despite serving a domestic ban for slapping an opposition coach.

To make matters worse, Al Wasl’s month-long delay in sacking Maradona after the installation of a new Board – the old one resigned because of the season’s failures – means new coach Bruno Metsu now finds himself behind every other club in terms of pre-season preparations.

The club is yet to sign three of its four overseas players for next term and with Ramadan coming up Metsu now faces a race against time to be ready for the September 15 kick-off.

In other words, the failures of last season could result in more failures in the next one. If that is all a big cross against Maradona’s appointment, then commercially the recruitment was also not the goldmine some thought it might be, either. Average crowds were up by more than 2,000 but that still only lifted the figure to 5,476 per league match.

The club did sign two new sponsors after Maradona’s arrival – MAX clothing and Hublot watches – but as one source close to the club revealed: “Plenty of companies were interested in linking up but most just wanted an association with Maradona rather than with the club and if that tie-up didn’t interest Maradona then the interest cooled.”

His arrival did coincide with the upgrade of the stadium and Zabeel is now superior to many league venues in the country but that, too, has cost money.

Publicity-wise, the club exploded. It claimed worldwide coverage increased by 1600 per cent over the course of a year and that coverage was worth Dh333 million.

But that figure was just an estimate of what it would have cost to buy the coverage, not earnings for the club. The test is now whether that level of interest can be maintained now Maradona has gone. The answer is almost certainly no.

So, for Al Wasl, the bad clearly outweighs the good but Maradona did have one major beneficial effect on UAE football, bringing much-needed coverage and publicity to the game in what is, after all, a footballing backwater.

If his coming here makes the UAE an option to be considered for even one top player in the future then that is a positive everyone can take away from the past 14 months of what has been a great adventure for the game in this country.

Murgatroyd is a commentator on the Etisalat Pro League for AD Sports and Dubai Sports and a columnist for XPRESS

 

 

 

Comments (6)

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  1. Added 11:31 July 19, 2012

    When the deal was made between Al Wasl FC & Maradona, many expectations were raised that the club would go on to win the championship. But reality was something else. As a player no doubt Maradona was the best, but as a coach he is a failure. He has no capability and been proven before on International level with Argentina national team. Maradona has disturbing attitude and thinks he was the only one and the best in football. His ego led to the FAILURE!!! Many well known coaches falter and this is normal in this sport. I think Maradona should thank his stars for getting two months salay (Dh1.6M) for doing nothing while people work years for it.

    Salem Al ameri, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 11:16 July 19, 2012

    Well, this is no surprise, is it? Maradaona was a brilliant soccer player bur as a coach a complete failure with crazy behaviour. He is not the only one. Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten were both super soccer players themselves, but as coaches, they were very limited. The other way around is also possible, average players who develop themselves into great coaches. I prefer the latter.

    Joost van Heuvel, Enschede, Netherlands

  3. Added 09:40 July 19, 2012

    One cannot expect only the coach to raise a team to world class in such a short time .. if the players are not world class..

    mithun, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 06:25 July 19, 2012

    Actually if Al Wasl wants to succeed, they should form a new team made up of players who are passionate to win. They should avoid lazy and egoistic players. Then there will be not need for a Maradona or a Pele - a regular coach will do.

    Abdul, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 00:38 July 19, 2012

    Maradona is a legend. Many poeple who don't watch local football only got intereted after Maradona's appearance on the local scene. Everything has a price tag and Maradona was worth the cost as he bought lots of public interest and media attention which bought returns to club. It will be interesting to see if Metsu also elicits the same fervour in media and local football clubs like Maradona. I only want to say that no matter what is said about him, a legend remains legend and Maradona is living football legend.

    vakas, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 23:46 July 18, 2012

    A local club got exposed to the world .......Thats it,.. Maradona had actually paid back the club,

    Shameel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates