The 5 Most Valuable Sports Teams in the World

Alex Rodriguez and Yankees celebrate a home run
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If you were hoping to live a life of wealth and luxury, we suggest finding a way to become a professional sports team owner — it can be quite the profitable enterprise.

In 2015, according to Forbes, the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world are now worth on average $1.75 billion. That number is a 31% increase from the figures calculated in 2014. To put that into perspective, last year if an organization was to make this particular list, it had to have a minimum valuation of $856 million. Now a team has to be worth $1.15 billion to make the cut. Based on Forbes’ calculations, that bump stems from an increased value in teams in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Since 1998, Forbes has been compiling a list of the most valuable teams in sports. For each organization, Forbes uses “enterprise values (equity plus debt) based on current venue deals (unless a new venue is pending).” This year, the NFL landed the most teams in the top 50 with 20 organizations. Next was Major League Baseball with 12, followed the NBA with 10, and soccer with seven. In the end, this incredible wealth can be majorly attributed to big-time global media deals.

Of course, while there are 50 clubs making up Forbes’ impressive list, there are a few that stand above the rest. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five most valuable sports teams in the world.

5. Manchester United

Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring a goal
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  • Team value: $3.1 billion

Aside from being one of the most well-recognized soccer clubs on the planet, Manchester United is the fifth highest-valued sports team in the world. According to Forbes, Man U’s $3.1 billion valuation is a 10% increase from the year before and a lot of that has to do with the club’s dual global sponsorship and licensing deal with apparel giant Adidas. While the partnership won’t go into effect until the 2015-16 season, the contract is for $1.1 billion over 10 years. We guess it pays to be part of the Glazer family.

4. Barcelona

Neymar celebrates a goal
  • Team value: $3.16 billion

Despite coming in 1% less than last year, Spanish soccer giant Barcelona — winner of this year’s Spanish title and Champions League — are 2015’s No. 4 most valuable sports team in the world at $3.16 billion. With Lionel Messi and Neymar forming a magical and almost unstoppable duo, Barcelona plays some of the most beautiful and fluid fútbol on the planet. Their style and continued excellence on the pitch make Barça the envy of soccer organization all over the globe. On top of that, per Forbes, the $64 million in prize money the team made from their Champion’s League victory should propel the club’s revenue to over $650 million. The smart money says this organization will continue to be among the wealthiest in the world for years to come.

2. (tie) New York Yankees

Jacoby Ellsbury celebrates scoring  a run
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  • Team value: $3.2 billion

The New York Yankees are tied for No. 2 on the list of the world’s most valuable sports teams. At $3.2 billion, the worth of the Bronx Bombers is up 28% from the previous year, which was good enough to catapult them two places higher in this year’s list. Based on Forbes’ numbers, the Yankees made $676 million in revenue. However, the club needed to deduct $90 million in revenue-sharing payments and $78 million in bond payments (used for stadium debt). Still, with the franchise leading the American League in average attendance — 42,520 fans per game — last season, the Steinbrenner family should continue to earn maximum dollars courtesy of the men in pinstripes.

2. (tie) Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in a huddle
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  • Team value: $3.2 billion

In the eyes of team value, the NFL is Jerry’s world and we’re all just living in it. Per Forbes, the Dallas Cowboys made a 39% jump from the year before and are now valued at $3.2 billion. America’s team has now been the most valuable team in the National Football League for the past eight years and currently has an operating income of $246 million. Considering the team makes $100 million annually courtesy of premium seating and sponsorships, on top of a 25-year, $500 million stadium naming rights deal with AT&T, it should come as no surprise that this organization’s star shines so bright.

1. Real Madrid

Real Madrid players with their Fifa awards
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  • Team value: $3.26 billion

As if there was any doubt.

Despite dropping 5% from the year before, Real Madrid — for the third year in the row — are the world’s most valuable sports franchise. Over the past year, Los Blancos generated $746 million in total revenue (the highest in all of sports), the highest broadcast revenue in sports at $277 million, and won the 2014 Champion’s League title (the 10th in club history). This has star power, swagger, and immense global popularity. In a world filled with wealthy sports franchises, at this moment in time, there is simply no stopping the occupants of the Santiago Bernabéu.

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