Stores score a winner with Ronaldo's tight shorts

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo’s penchant for super-tight shorts has created a new market for retailers that could soon dwarf the soccer star’s 80-million-pound ($131 million) transfer to Real Madrid.

British department stores group Debenhams DEB.L said on Thursday sales of skimpy shorts leapt over 117 percent in the last week, after Ronaldo was photographed sporting his skin-tight style on holiday in the United States.

“His sense of style has moved men’s shorts into an entirely new ball game,” said Paul Baldwin, Debenhams’ director of buying for menswear.

“We believe that demand for super tight shorts is about to become a worldwide phenomenon -- and the value of the market will dwarf the fee paid for the player by Real Madrid.”

English soccer champions Manchester United last week accepted a world record bid for the 24-year-old striker from Spain’s Real Madrid. [ID:nLB644440]

Debenhams warned the copycat craze could put more flesh on show this summer than many people might feel comfortable with.

“We’ve already had many instances of young men squeezing themselves into shorts which are clearly several sizes too small for them, just to create the maximum ‘Cristiano effect’,” Baldwin said. ($1=.6098 Pound) (Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Hans Peters)