Real Madrid has been a giant of European soccer for the past century, racking up a record 32 La Liga titles and nine UEFA Champions League trophies. The club’s success has fueled a global following and attracted superstar players over the last 20 years like Raul, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid can add one more trophy to its case: It is now the world’s most valuable sports franchise, worth $3.3 billion, surpassing former No. 1 Manchester United. Los Blancos have the highest revenues of any team in sports ($650 million during the 2011-12 season), and revenues are up 62% over the last three years. Madrid’s operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and player trading) of $134 million is second only to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys among sports teams.
The World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams 2013
#1 Real Madrid
Value: $3.3 billion
Owner: Club members
Los Merengues finished runner-up this year in La Liga and the Copa del Ray, but nab the title of the world’s most valuable sports team thanks to the highest revenues in sports ($650 million during the 2011-12 season). Real inked new deals with Adidas and Emirates Airlines over the last 12 months that will bring in roughly $80 million combined annually.
The revenue spigot isn’t shutting off anytime soon. The club extended its kit supply deal with Adidas last year in a pact worth $42 million a year. Madrid inked its largest sponsorship deal ever this spring with Emirates. The deal to put the Dubai-based airline’s name on the team’s shirts is worth $39 million annually for five years starting next season. Madrid is planning a $320 million renovation to its stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, which could add $60 million a year to revenues by 2018.
While Real Madrid is the most valuable team in sports, don’t expect its owner to cash in. The team is run by billionaire Spanish construction mogul Florentino Perez, who serves as president. But the club is owned by its 93,000 members, who pay $195 annually. Members get discounts on tickets and merchandise. The only thing comparable in the U.S. among major sports teams is the Green Bay Packers, which is owned by its 364,000 shareholders.
United ranks second with a value of $3.17 billion. The club launched an initial offering to the public in August and the stock is up 23% since then. Fans cheered United’s record 20th English Premier League title this year, while investors are excited about soaring sponsorship revenues. The Red Devils signed a seven-year, $559 million shirt sponsorship deal last year with Chevrolet. The team inked a naming rights pact for its training facility with insurer Aon in April. The deal is expected to net United more than $200 million over eight years. The club has 32 official sponsors in total. The Glazer family, who control United, also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which ranks No. 28 with a worth of $1.03 billion. The Glazers are the only family to own two of the top 50 franchises.
Barcelona completes a sweep of the top three by European soccer clubs. The reigning La Liga champs are worth $2.6 billion on the strength of $613 million in annual revenue. Barca used part of its cash stockpile this spring to nab Brazilian sensation Neymar for a transfer fee of $74 million. The 21-year-old signed a five-year deal with the team. Barcelona has the biggest social media following of any sports team with 61 million Facebook fans and Twitter followers, which are fans more than the 30 richest NFL teams combined (see “Barcelona and Real Madrid Rule Social Media“)
The New York Yankees are the most valuable U.S. sports team, ranking fourth overall at $2.3 billion. The Bronx Bombers generated $330 million in revenue last season from tickets and premium seating, which is more than the bottom seven MLB teams combined. MLB tries to level the playing field by docking the Yankees a nine-figure revenue-sharing check each year. Yankee Global Enterprises, which owns the team and an interest in the YES Network, sold part of its stake in YES in connection with Fox’s purchase of 49% of the regional sport network in late 2012. The team’s rights fee from YES will increase from $85 million this season to $350 million in 2042 as part of the deal. The Yankees lead a contingent of five New York City area teams on the list—two more than any other city (see “New York Sports By The Numbers”).
The Dallas Cowboys are No. 5 at $2.1 billion, leading a group of 30 American football teams on our list (the NFL’s two teams that missed the top 50, the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, rank 51st and 52nd). The Cowboys have been the NFL’s most valuable team since 2007 thanks to the league’s highest sponsorship and premium seating revenues—a combined $200 million. The ‘Boys inked QB Tony Romo to a six-year, $108 million contract extension in March despite only one playoff win during his eight years under center (see “Winning Isn’t Everything”).
Forbes has valued teams in the major sports leagues since 1998. The top 50 list is based on the valuations we’ve done for the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, soccer, Nascar and Formula 1 over the past year. The average team in the top 50 is worth $1.24 billion, up 16% over last year. There are 33 teams worth $1 billion versus 24 last year. Two years ago there weren’t any teams worth $2 billion; now there are five.
The 20 non-NFL teams in the top 50 include seven each from baseball and soccer, as well as three from the NBA led by the New York Knicks at No. 23, with a valuation of $1.1 billion. Rounding out the top 50 are two Formula 1 teams (No. 21 Ferrari and No. 47 McLaren) and the NHL’s most valuable team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, which ranks 31st at $1 billion.