Argentinian legend Diego Maradona was sacked as coach of UAE club Al Wasl after 14 months on the job. While the appointment of Maradon and his on- and off-pitch antics probably brought a lot of worldwide attention to the club, the Dubai-based daily Gulf News asks if it was all worth it considering the huge financial cost.
Al Wasl paid $2.7 million in wages to Maradon, plus $400,000 as a fee for terminating his contract. This does not include the salaries of his staff and support personnel who will also leave with him. According to the paper, “a conservative estimate of that cost would be at least another Dh2-3 million ($500-800k).”
But that is not all. Al Wasl also paid the rent for Maradona’s six-bedroom villa on the Palm Jumeirah, which was located in what an real estate agent described as “one of the most exclusive parts of the Palm” for a cost of $200,000. The club had also to pay for a public relations firm to help manage the global media and public interest around his presence in Dubai, where he was driven around by a private driver. All in all, the paper estimates the total cost of Maradona to be around $4 million.
So what did Al Wasl get in return?
The club finished eighth in the league, reached the semifinal of the domestic cup and suffered what the newspaper described as “a humiliating loss in the final of the Gulf Champions League when two players were sent off for violent conduct.”
However, the club enjoyed a big increase in worldwide brand recognition. Al Wasl claimed the club coverage increased by 1600 per cent over the course of a year. That coverage was worth an estimated $90 million.