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The Top 5 of the World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams

The 21st Century has seen owners of professional sports’ teams capitalize on their investments like never before. Perhaps the main reason can be attributed to television broadcast deals. Of course, there are other aspects to their meteoric rise in revenue. European football/soccer teams have, of course, captured the imagination of the majority of the world’s sports viewers. Hence, they are some of the best investments for Russian oligarchs and American businessmen alike. Unsurprisingly, some of the top earning teams are from The United States of America, a country which has perfected the art of blending commerce with sport.

Forbes recently published a list of the World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams based on revenue. Here is our insight into the top 5.

5. Manchester United ($3.1 billion)


A long time member of this list, Manchester United  have always been at or near the top this list. They were one of the first European football teams to recognize business potential in their international fan base. During the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, United were matching their off-field growth with an impressive on-field standard. The Scotsman ensured a steady flow of silverware. Ever since his retirement, United’s position as one of the elite clubs in Europe as well as a dominant club domestically, has been under threat. Perhaps this has given way for their European rivals to overtake them on this list.

4. FC Barcelona ($3.16 billion)


The Spanish/Catalan football club have been riding well on the wave of success they have enjoyed in the last decade. Their international popularity in the 90s was mostly limited to Latin America and of course, continental Europe, since the team itself comprised players from these geographies. In the 2000s, though, savvy club directors have tapped the potential and popularity of European club football in Asia, Africa and even the United States, to rake in revenues from merchandise and kit sales as well as local brand associations.

2. New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys  ($3.2 billion)

Yankees Cowboys

American football teams make up the bulk of the top 50 of this list with 30 teams. Dallas Cowboys lead the way among the NFL franchisees. Since 2007, the Cowboys have been the NFL’s most valuable team, largely due to the league’s premium seating revenues and highest sponsorships. It also had the highest operating income in sports at $251 million for the 2012 season. The Cowboys make more than $100 million a year from sponsors, topped by their 25-year $500 million stadium deal with AT&T.

Tied with the Cowboys are their compatriots from Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers being at the top does not come as a shocker. According to Forbes, the value of the Yankees is up 28 percent from last year. They were fourth on the 2014 list and also led the American League in attendance, averaging 42,520 fans per game.

1. Real Madrid ($3.26 billion)


The NBA and MLB may be hot right now, but the world’s most valuable team still resides in Spain. Real Madrid ranks first for the third straight year at $3.26 billion. Ever since Florentino Perez adopted his ‘Galacticos’ approach to player recruitment, Madrid have seen their popularity soar across the globe. It has become a matter of pride for the team from the Spanish capital to always top the list of most expensive transfers in football. Not always has this approach worked in terms of conversions to silverware, but it has definitely been spot on when converting to green currency. Sales of replica shirts and club merchandise have been off the charts so consistently that breaking revenue records has become the norm when setting targets for Madrid corporate team.

The world’s 50 most valuable sports teams are now worth $1.75 billion on average, up 31% from 2014. The minimum valuation to make the cut is $1.15 billion, versus $856 million a year ago. These organizations are not resting on their riches, though. They are searching for the next goldmine with new streaming services and daily fantasy games. Expect next year’s list to contain even more outrageous figures.

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