European Soccer Teams Dominate Top Of Forbes Most Valuable Sports Teams List

  • Ricky Boebel

Listen: Real Madrid took the top spot on the Forbes list of most valuable sports teams. Manchester United and Barcelona rounded off the top three. The New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys took fourth and fifth, respectively.

Real Madrid was valued at $3.3 billion. However, no one man is cashing in on its rise in value. Surprisingly, Real Madrid is run similarly to the Green Bay Packers — they have 93,000 shareholders that pay $195 annually in exchange for discounts on tickets and merchandise.

Soccer’s dominate presence in the top five was not reflected in the rest of the list. Only four other soccer teams were featured in the top 50. The NFL took over from there, with 30 of their 32 franchises making the cut. The only two to miss out were the St. Louis Rams at No. 51 and the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 52.

So why do soccer teams like Real Madrid, Man U and Barca make so much more than the other teams in their leagues? The simple answer: a lack of revenue sharing. European soccer leagues remain fractured financially. Every team has different sponsorship and TV deals, which creates a dichotomy between the value of the big-market teams and small-market-teams.

NFL teams share most of their revenue across the league’s 32 teams. Everything from your favorite NFL-branded bobblehead to the $3 billion per-year TV broadcasting contract. This all goes into a big revenue pool split between every team.

The only way NFL teams differentiate themselves from a revenue standpoint is through money brought in from their stadium. Ticket sales are split 60-40 between the home and away teams, while franchises keep revenue from luxury boxes, stadium naming rights and concession sales. This is why Jerry Jones and other NFL owners are building stadiums the size of small nations.

I don’t see European soccer changing their leagues to fit the NFL model anytime soon. There’s just too much money to be lost for the top clubs. Soccer is a sport that is very comfortable with disparity, both in competition and business.