Money is everything in sports. Sure, winning and losing are at the core of the game, but if sports were not profitable, they would not exist at the level at which we know them today. We’ve seen it countless times; teams that struggle financially often struggle to win, and without a winning record it’s hard for a team to make money. It’s a vicious circles that has claimed the lives of many a beloved franchise. Teams with little money have difficulty luring star players to their team, and while many people roll their eyes when they see these athletes’ salaries soaring into the millions, it’s still nothing compared to the wealth behind their respective teams.
As much as teams pay their stars, they get far more in return through the publicity and fanfare that they bring to their team, as well as the firepower to win games. Everyone wants to see star players earn wins for their team, and when they do, sport fanatics all over the world flock to the streets, bars, event centers and stadiums, clad in expensive replica team gear they purchase from the franchise. Not to mention all the ticket sales the teams make whether they be from season ticket holders, or individual sales.
However, there are certain franchises that tend to retain mediocre standings, not seeming to ever advance despite the amount of money they have at their disposal. These are usually teams that have created a name for themselves and have such a dedicated fanbase that no matter how the team actually performs, they will always be financially successful. There are a couple of cases like this in the NFL right now, but only one that made it into the top ten most valuable list. Fortunately, when owners have the ability to upgrade stadiums and offer incentives to attendees, it is often enough to attract the masses come game time. Here are the top ten most valuable sports franchises in the world for 2013 according to Forbes.
10. Arsenal Football Club – Team Value: $1.326 Billion
Thankfully, this franchise has been around since 1886, because their loyal fan base seems to have kept them on top as the third most valuable team in the English Premier League. Another reason this club seems to have the ability to remain of substantial worth is because of its ability to gain sponsorships. As all major teams know, giving fans something nice to look at while attending matches hugely impacts ticket sales. Not only did Arsenal receive a long-term shirt endorsement deal for their jerseys, they also landed the largest sponsorship deal in the history of English football with Emirates. The team’s home stadium will be called Emirates Stadium until 2028 after the company dished out around 100 million pounds to the club. Some fans may not appreciate the name, but they sure do love this team, as shown by the average attendance that occupies about 99.5% of the total capacity of the stadium. The franchise also knows how to share their wealth, reportedly donating 818,897 pounds to The Great Ormand Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
9. New York Giants – Team Valued: $1.468 Billion
In 1925, when the team was founded, the NFL was only five years old and professional football was completely overshadowed by other sports like boxing and baseball, with the Giants struggling to financially keep their head above water. They really didn’t help themselves by not reaching the playoffs for 17 straight years, and were criticized when they moved to New Jersey. However, a loyal fan base comprised of both New Yorkers and citizens of New Jersey, gradually increased ticket sales and bolstered the team. The franchise currently has a 20-year waiting list for season tickets, which is the highest in the NFL. The Giants also share MetLife Stadium with hometown rivals New York Jets, in which the sponsor pays $425 million over 25 years for the naming rights. As the Giants 2013-2014 season trudges on, they sit happily at number nine on this list.
8. Washington Redskins – Team Value: $1.6 Billion
The Redskins are one team that can thank their franchise stars for getting them where they are, mainly because their owner’s contribution have been seen by many as immoral. The controversy started when unemployed fans were no longer able to afford the season passes that they previously could. It did not sit well with owner Daniel Snyder who instead of resolving the issue to make better for both parties, forced the ticketholders to court where they could not afford lawyers. This, combined with legal battles over the team’s racially controversial name stirred up quite a mess. However, the fans stood by their players, especially upcoming rookie Robert Griffin III in 2012. His number ten jersey currently holds the record for highest sales for any jersey in a single season.
7. Los Angles Dodgers – Team Value: $1.615 Billion
This list wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t represent a team from America’s favorite pastime. Fans of the game were excited as the Dodgers were the first Major League Baseball team to play in Los Angeles, moving from Brooklyn in 1958. The team was established in 1883 and have won six World Series titles and 21 National League pennants over the course of their long and storied history. The Dodgers have been very fortunate to have created so many life-long fans as they set a world record in 2008 for the highest single game attendance for any professional sports team at 115,300 attendees.
6. New England Patriots – Team Value: $1.635 Billion
The Patriots are another team that can thank big franchise players for their financial success. Tom Brady is one of the biggest names in the NFL and he contributes greatly to the millions coming to the team every week. Since its 2002 opening, Gillette Stadium has not had an empty seat, and a lot of that can be contributed to the team having a winning record every year since 2001. In 2007 The Patriots even became the only team to finish the regular season with a 16-0 record. Being one of the strongest competitors in the NFL, their fan base reaches all around the world, and because of the increased interest in ticket prices, the Patriots have recently raised ticket costs. They currently have about 60,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets.
5. Dallas Cowboys – Team Value: $2.1 Billion
Holding the National Football League’s biggest sponsorship deal with AT&T, the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable team in the NFL. Despite having only one playoff win in the last eight years, the Cowboys still seem to bring in the crowds, selling out 79 consecutive times at home and 81 consecutive times on the road. Coined as “America’s Team,” the Cowboys offer a comfortable seat to watch their home games in their new $1.3 billion dome stadium, which just happens to be the largest of its kind in the world.
4. New York Yankees – Team Value: $2.3 Billion
If there is any team in the world of professional sports that can attribute their winning seasons to the amount of money they have, it would be the Yankees. Criticized over the years for having “bought” their wins after being able to afford the biggest names in the game, they have still proven to be a powerhouse franchise. They recently sold a part of their interest in 2012 that will increase their television rights fees from $85 million to $350 million over the next 29 years with YES Network. With baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, it would be hard for the team not to continue to profit from jersey and memorabilia sales. With 27 World Series wins and 40 appearances, this franchise will remain well-known until the end of baseball.
3. Barcelona – Team Value: $2.6 Billion
This amazing European football club is the only one to have competed and won six out of six competitions in a single year. This success is thanks in large part to the supporters, as Barcelona ranks the second-highest in average attendance of all European football clubs. The team recently landed a jersey sponsorship worth about $38 million a year for the next three years, attributing to much of their worth. Being a registered association as opposed to a limited company, the club has no owners, only members. Barcelona boasts the highest average salary per player of any sports franchise in the world.
2. Manchester United – Team Value: $3.165 Billion
Being the first English football team to win the European Cup, Manchester United is well-known worldwide and is definitely one of the most highly supported teams in sports. This club has had multiple sponsorships from companies all around the world that have helped create their healthy worth and their reputation as a global brand. The team’s new shirt sponsorship with General Motors is worth $80 million a year over seven years, giving them a hefty $559 million in total. The club is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange for $14 a share, but has had a disappointing start since its launch.
1. Real Madrid – Team Value: $3.3 Billion
With almost 70,000 occupants at games being season ticket holders, the supporters of Real Madrid definitely think their team fulfils their worth. The franchise’s climb to first on this list was helped by the decision to sell its training grounds, giving the team the dollars it needed to attract the biggest names in the game. This in turn created a buzz around the team that granted them an even greater financial gain. Like Barcelona, Real Madrid is owned by its members, and voted president Florentino Perez is the one making the decisions. The club also makes lots off of shirt sales around the globe and are particularly popular in Asia. The team got lots of exposure when they were featured in the 2007 movie Goal 2: Living the Dream, ultimately helping with their financial growth and solidifying them as the most valuable sports franchise in the world.
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