Sports teams — above and beyond their abilities and accomplishments on their fields, pitches, and courts — are also iconic as pieces of branding. That’s not surprising, since everyone who’s got any passing interest in sports teams, regardless of league and game, knows that there are certain squads that have a cultural cache that exists beyond their own athletic scopes. Think the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, or the Los Angeles Lakers. They mean things, as far as italicization and emphasis go.
They’re also worth things, in the fiscal sense of the word, and Forbes has just gone over the most valuable sports teams on the planet. Here’s the seven at the very top. None of them are worth what the Los Angeles Clippers sold for, even though they’re not on the list, which should serve as a bit of a reminder that worth, value, and price are not always directly related.
7. Bayern Munich — $287 Million
The soccer club, which, for those that don’t follow international soccer, is the premiere team of the Bundesliga — the highest level of professional soccer in Germany — has been running on nothing but success over the last few years, having wrapped up wins in the various tournaments and cups, as well as being able to watch their stars, like Arjen (pictured above), find success and acclaim internationally. Bundesliga’s new TV deal with Fox can’t hurt, either.
6. New England Patriots — $351 Million
The alternating between American Football and Actual Football is going to be a running theme in this piece, as the behemoth that is the NFL is one of the only U.S. based sports entities with the financial clout to send more than one of their teams onto this list. First and foremost, the New England Patriots are benefiting not only from the general love and affection that the NFL receives, but also from a decade of success.
5. Manchester United — $399 Million
While the shame of watching their team playing friendlies, or exhibition matches, during the week for want of something to do has got to rub supporters the wrong way, Manchester United is still among the top echelon of international sports teams as far as the worth of their franchise is concerned. A small victory, especially in light of a failure to qualify for the Champions League, but a victory none the less.
4. Dallas Cowboys — $404 Million
Jerry Jones knows something about small, symbolic victories. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, a perennially mediocre American football team that has successfully finished with the same number of wins and losses over the course of the regular season for three consecutive seasons (and running!) watches his games in the behemoth AT&T Stadium, which is the third largest NFL stadium, by capacity, and nearly the size of Wembley. All to watch the Cowboys inevitably go 8-8.
3. FC Barcelona — $438 Million
Watch their worth grow by nearly $100 million from 2013 — by virtue of some new sponsorships (Forbes highlights their $14 million a year deal with a company called Beko) — in addition to the fact that they house a pair of the most exciting players of the 2014 World Cup. That’d be Neymar, who played for Brazil, and Messi, who played for Argentina. Those guys are a big deal. Probably would’ve been bigger deals had they managed to win the World Cup, but you could say that about almost every nation team in the World Cup.
2. Real Madrid — $484 Million
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the regular season home of Cristiano Ronaldo and company has the largest endorsement deal between a single team and an apparel company ever, full stop, with their annual $41 million that they bring in from Adidas. They finally put an end to their title drought earlier this year when they finished at the top of the Champions League (the very same Champions League that Man U. failed to qualify for).
1. New York Yankees — $521 Million
But even then, there’s really only one massive team in sports. The New York Yankees, who are arguably more synonymous with success and fiscal growth of a behemoth nature than any other squad on the planet, are the most valuable sports brand in the entire galaxy. Coming off the resoundingly successful Derek Jeter retirement tour (successful in visibility, if not the postseason), the Yankees are still the team behind the most iconic logo for a sports franchise ever, and their half-a-billion dollar valuation reflects that.