Forbes released its annual list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises, which was unsurprisingly topped by three European soccer powerhouses— Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United.
Given Real Madrid’s recent spending spree, with the club snatching World Cup stars James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, it should come as little surprise that the defending Champions League winner topped the list with a $3.44 billion valuation.
Soccer teams benefited from lucrative uniform naming-rights and sponsorship deals, along with the added benefit of not having to contend with salary caps.
American teams were well represented, as you can see in the chart below.
The NFL dominated the list, led by the Dallas Cowboys, who were valued at $2.3 billion, fifth overall. In fact, only the lowly Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars did not make the list. Despite missing the playoffs last year, the New York Knicks led all NBA franchises, with a valuation of $1.4 billion. The NHL had just one team on the list, the Toronto Maple Leafs, which was valued at $1.15 billion and came in 26th overall.
NFL teams own the largest rosters per team of any professional sport, giving the sport the largest salary cap number of the four major leagues, more than double the NBA salary cap. However, because of the considerably larger salaries, NFL players did not reap the benefits.
Despite having the most teams in the top 50, the average NFL salary was considerably less than in the other leagues. It’s also why even its star players can be considered underpaid. When you also factor in that it is the only league without guaranteed player contracts and the propensity for dangerous player injuries, it’s fair to wonder if the NFL will feature so prominently in 20 years.