Fresh from their stunning victory at the Tournament of Nations in August and back-to-back home wins over Brazil this past week, star Matildas players could as much as triple their endorsement earnings according to a leading marketing expert.
While the team’s naming rights have been in the safe keeping of Westfield for years – which in hindsight has proven a bargain for the Lowy family – companies across the country will be busy plotting how they can secure the likes of Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams, Lisa Devanna, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and the most talked-about footballer in the country right now, Sam Kerr.
Kerr currently only has one major endorsement deal - a contract with Nike said to be worth $30,000.
But as the most marketable footballer in the nation right now, her value is set to sky rocket as businesses clamor to align themselves with her.
Sydney-based PR company Nikstar have already been quick to act, signing 24-year-old somersaulting superstar Kerr this week as they look to lock her into long-term deals with big Australian brands.
Martin Hirons – a founder of Sport Business Partners and who will be one of the lead speakers at November’s Money in Sport conference – believes that all players will greatly benefit in terms of their marketing value and some will strike gold.
“It’s hard to put a dollar-value on exactly what each player can make, because every player has a different profile, but it’s not unrealistic to say that these players could probably double or even triple existing endorsement earnings,” he told The World Game.
“Despite all the problems the FFA might be having politically, and the dramas the Socceroos had recently, the Matildas are the feel-good story in football right now.
“You’ve got a genuine, world-class superstar in the form for Sam Kerr, plus some really amazing players like Caitlin Foord and Lisa Devanna and several others.
“Things are moving rapidly in women's sport right now and that overall movement has probably helped them get the recognition they've long deserved. Their attractiveness as a marketing product has never been higher.”
The news will be music to the ears of the women’s team, many of who were working in part-time jobs until only recently due to the game’s failure to provide a full-time income.
Only last week did Football Federation Australian and Professional Footballers' Australia agree a new collective bargaining agreement, which sees the average retainer for W-League players rise from $6,909 to $15,500 for the next season.
Most have to play abroad and rely on international match payments to round out their incomes, although this extraordinary burst of publicity has the potential to give them a major financial boost.
“It’s pretty important that these players get the right people around them because that’s probably what will ultimately determine whether or not they’re truly able to capitalise on this moment,” Hirons said.
“Players often don’t think about their image until the very end of their career or when it’s over altogether. Obviously nobody wants to distract them from their football duties, but they need to start cultivating their personal brands and matching that to right companies.
“There’s going to be a lot of opportunities that will be heading in their direction but choosing the right ones will be pretty important.”
But Hiron – a 30-year veteran of the industry – warns it won’t be a cash bonanza just for the sake of it.
“Women’s sport is booming but there’s a lot of competition for the dollar at the moment,” he said.
“There’s AFLW, the Women’s Big Bash League and rugby sevens as well. They’re all competing in a market that is pretty tight.
"What football needs to do is create a point of difference and show why it can appeal to the market in a different way.”
When pressed for his ideas on that very point, Hirons reckons it might be staring us in the face.
“Professional athletes are tougher than ever to get close to, but if you watch the Matildas, they are basically the opposite,” he said.
“They’re friendly. They’re approachable. They like the public interaction. They’ve got those humble qualities that we want but don’t see much of in professional sport.
“Talking strictly as an observer, we shouldn’t underestimate their style of play. It is genuinely exciting. What really got me was how fast it was. The ball was really moving at speed, the goals were flying in. These are all marketable facets. You can see what a well-developed product it is.
“They have really come of age as a team and it’s not hard to see why the public wants to be a part of it and I’m sure the commercial benefits of that will soon emerge. They’re a major national brand in their own right now.”