These are the world’s most valuable sports teams

The top 50 list is heavily dominated by US sports franchises. Image: USA Today Sports

John McKenna, Formative Content

The world’s 50 most valuable sports teams in 2017 are worth a combined $127 billion, and are overwhelmingly located in the US.

According to the list compiled by Forbes, just seven of the top 50 most valuable teams are based outside of the US, and all of them are European soccer clubs.

Despite European soccer — particularly the English Premier League — signing record TV rights deals with an ever-expanding Asian market, the three highest-placed teams of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid were kept off the top two spots by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees.

The Forbes valuation of teams is based on current enterprise values covering both equity and debt, and including revenues covering everything from sponsorship deals to shirt sales.

As well as the top 50 list being dominated by US teams, they are also solely concentrated on four sports: American football, baseball, basketball and association football (soccer).

Image: Kim Klement

There was no room for motor-racing teams from Formula 1 or Nascar, despite Forbes’ list of highest-paid sport stars featuring five drivers.

Indeed, the list of highest-paid individuals is far more diverse in terms of sports, also featuring stars from cricket, golf, tennis and track and field.

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Stars’ pay

One unfortunate similarity between Forbes’ lists of most valuable sports teams and individuals is the distinct lack of women: no female sports teams feature anywhere near the list of most valuable sides, while only tennis player Serena Williams is on the list of highest-paid individuals, highlighting the huge gender pay gap in the world of sport.

Image: REUTERS/Edgar Su

It is also notable that Forbes estimates “no sports league is as profitable as the NFL”, which operates a salary cap, limiting the amount each team can spend on its stars’ wages. This is reflected by the fact that despite 29 of the 50 most valuable teams coming from the NFL, only seven of the league’s stars appear in the list of top 50 highest-paid sport stars.

Contrast this with the unrestrained pay of soccer stars, which means that despite having only seven of the top 50 most valuable teams, European football has five stars in the top 50 and can boast two of the three most highly paid athletes on the planet in Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (#1) and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (#3).

The biggest falls on Forbes 2017 list of most valuable sport teams compared to the previous year were experienced by English football clubs, which the report’s author blames on a weakened pound following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Arsenal Football Club suffered the biggest fall of any team, dropping 20 places to number 43 on the list, while Liverpool Football Club fell out of the top 50 altogether.

Top 50 most valuable sports teams

Rank, Team, Value, 1-Yr change (Sport)

1. Dallas Cowboys, $4.2 billion, 5% (NFL)

2. New York Yankees, $3.7 billion, 9% (MLB)

3. Manchester United, $3.69 billion, 11% (Soccer)

4. Barcelona, $3.64 billion, 2% (Soccer)

5. Real Madrid, $3.58 billion, -2% (Soccer)

6. New England Patriots, $3.4 billion, 6% (NFL)

7. New York Knicks, $3.3 billion, 10% (NBA)

8. New York Giants, $3.1 billion, 11% (NFL)

9. San Francisco 49ers, $3 billion, 11% (NFL)

9. Los Angeles Lakers, $3 billion, 11% (NBA)

11. Washington Redskins, $2.95 billion, 4% (NFL)

12. Los Angeles Rams, $2.9 billion, 100% (NFL)

13. New York Jets, $2.75 billion, 6% (NFL)

13. Los Angeles Dodgers, $2.75 billion, 10% (MLB)

15. Bayern Munich, $2.71 billion, 1% (Soccer)

16. Chicago Bears, $2.7 billion, 10% (NFL)

16. Boston Red Sox, $2.7 billion, 17% (MLB)

18. Chicago Cubs, $2.68 billion, 22% (MLB)

19. San Francisco Giants, $2.65 billion, 18% (MLB)

20. Houston Texans, $2.6 billion, 4% (NFL)

20. Golden State Warriors, $2.6 billion, 37% (NBA)

22. Philadelphia Eagles, $2.5 billion, 4% (NFL)

22. Chicago Bulls, $2.5 billion, 9% (NBA)

24. Denver Broncos, $2.4 billion, 24% (NFL)

25. Miami Dolphins, $2.38 billion, 28% (NFL)

26. Green Bay Packers, $2.35 billion, 21% (NFL)

27. Baltimore Ravens, $2.3 billion, 19% (NFL)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers, $2.25 billion, 18% (NFL)

29. Seattle Seahawks, $2.25 billion, 19% (NFL)

30. Minnesota Vikings, $2.2 billion, 38% (NFL)

30. Boston Celtics, $2.2 billion, 5% (NBA)

32. Indianapolis Colts, $2.18 billion, 16% (NFL)

33. Atlanta Falcons, $2.13 billion, 27% (NFL)

34. Oakland Raiders, $2.1 billion, 47% (NFL)

35. Manchester City, $2.083 billion, 8% (Soccer)

36. Los Angeles Chargers, $2.08 billion, 36% (NFL)

37. Carolina Panthers, $2.075 billion, 33% (NFL)

38. Arizona Cardinals, $2.025 billion, 31% (NFL)

39. Tennessee Titans, $2 billion, 34% (NFL)

39. Los Angeles Clippers, $2 billion, 0% (NBA)

39. New York Mets, $2 billion, 21% (MLB)

42. Jacksonville Jaguars, $1.95 billion, 32% (NFL)

43. Arsenal, $1.93 billion, -4% (Soccer)

44. Kansas City Chiefs, $1.88 billion, 23% (NFL)

45. Cleveland Browns, $1.85 billion, 23% (NFL)

46. Chelsea, $1.845 billion, 11% (Soccer)

47. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $1.8 billion, 19% (NFL)

47. Brooklyn Nets, $1.8 billion, 6% (NBA)

47. St Louis Cardinals, $1.8 billion, 12% (MLB)

50. New Orleans Saints, $1.75 billion, 16% (NFL)

50. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, $1.75 billion, 31% (MLB)

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