Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Biting Back: George Best knew where the money was

Football legend George Best at Windsor Park. 14/02/1987.
Football legend George Best at Windsor Park. 14/02/1987.

Some years ago it was my pleasure to conduct a chat-show interview with George Best.

In keeping with his name, George was at his very best that night – courteous, warm and humorous.

When I asked if he would advise his then-two-year-old son Calum to pursue a career in professional sport, he replied: "Yes, but not football. I'd encourage him to take up golf or tennis – an individual sport rather than a team game. That's where the real money is."

The just-published figures highlighting the top 10 sponsorship-related earners in world sport confirmed his opinion.

Last year saw tennis star Roger Federer and golf ace Tiger Woods earn $46 million apiece from sponsors.

Basketball's LeBron James was next on $27 million with fellow American, golfer Phil Mickelson, and Russian tennis star, Maria Sharapova, bagging $25 million and $23 million respectively.

Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni raked in $21 million, followed by Jamaica's Usain Bolt who made $20 million for being the fastest man ever. Kobe Bryant – another USA basketball ace – earned $19 million, $4 million more than Chinese tennis player Li Na.

Finally, bringing up the rear, were two footballers – Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi. Mind you, with both netting £13 million, neither is going short.

Meanwhile, for the next two weeks in Glasgow we will see hundreds of competitors who, despite giving their all, will earn little or nothing for it. Truly, world sport is ill-divided.

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