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There is no denying sport is big business. The elite teams around the world are more than watch takes place on the field; the brilliant minds behind the scenes have turned these franchises into thriving, all-encompassing businesses that are worth billions of dollars.
American business magazine Forbes releases an annual ranking of the most valuable sports teams on the planet. You are forgiven for thinking the teams in the top five are the best in their field, but that is not the case. The top five are made up of teams from soccer, the NFL, baseball, and basketball, with the latter’s representative nowhere near the top of the latest NBA betting odds online. It appears you do not have to be great to be valuable when it comes to sports.
Dallas Cowboys – $5.7 Billion
NFL franchise Dallas Cowboys is the most valuable sports team on the planet, courtesy of a $5.7 billion valuation. That figure is impressive in its own right, but more so when you consider Jerry Jones purchased the Cowboys for a mere $150 million in 1989.
In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys became the first sports team to be valued at $4 billion. Three years later, they became the first NFL team to break through the $5 billion mark. This massive increase in value is despite the Cowboy’s lack of success; they have not reached the Super Bowl since winning it in 1995.
Jerry Jones and his team have created a global brand that is thriving despite a lack of success on the field. Can you imagine how much the Cowboys would be worth if they managed to reach a Super Bowl?
New York Yankees – $5.25 Billion
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Baseball’s New York Yankees are second in Forbes’ rich list with a $5.25 billion valuation. Like the Cowboys mentioned above, the owners of the Yankees have enjoyed a massive increase in their investments. The Steinbrenner Family paid $8.8 million for the Yankees in 1973.
The Yankees are one of America’s most successful sports teams. They are one of the best-supported teams on the planet, with more than three million fans visiting the Yankee Stadium each year and several million more Yankee fans tuning in worldwide to watch their heroes in action.
New York Knicks – $5 Billion
The New York Knicks are the only basketball team in the current Forbes top-five and one of three NBA franchises in the overall top ten. When Madison Square Garden Sports paid $300 million for the Knicks in 1997, they had no idea their investment would soar to an eye-popping $5 billion by 2021.
The Knicks’ success off the court is nothing to do with their performances on it because the Knicks have only one playoff series game victory since 2000 and have not won the NBA title since 1973. However, the renovation of its iconic arena and signing a blockbuster local TV deal helped push the Knics’ valuation through the roof.
FC Barcelona – $4.76 Billion
Success by a team breeds success off the pitch, which is why Spanish socer team FC Barcelona is valued at $4.76 billion. Barcelona has won a record 75 trophies domestically, including 26 La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey cup 31 times! No wonder the team is the most widely supported globally and has the largest social media following of any other sports team.
However, all that success has come at a cost. Barcelona has massively overspent over the years, acquiring the best players and paying them astronomical wages. In 2021, the club’s senior management team revealed Barcelona is in debt to the tune of $1.56 billion!
Real Madrid CF – $4.75 Billion
Barcelona’s arch-rivals, Real Madrid CF, is the fifth most valuable sports team globally, one worth $4.75 billion. Real Madrid has won 66 domestic trophies, including a record 34 La Liga titles. The team is the most successful in European and worldwide competitions, with 26 trophies, including 13 European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies.
The club is owned by its fans, who can purchase memberships. They elect a President who cannot invest their own money; the team only spends what it generates.