The top professional leagues in global sports are massive businesses just as much if not more so than they are competitions that put the best of the best athletes against each other in contests that are shown all around the world via media rights deals that are worth billions of dollars. The teams in the world that are responsible for the highest club salaries for 2015 are brands in more than just the countries where they reside, due in part because the majority of those organizations participate in competitions that are spread across countries and even continents.
Sportingintelligence released its list of the best paid team in all of global sports for 2015 on May 20 of this year. It should come as no surprise to anybody who follows more than North American pro sports that soccer clubs take up over half of the top-ten spots of the list. Eight of the ten teams with the highest overall salaries in global sports play the world's game, the beautiful game. The other two call the United States home, and those franchises play in a league that has no hard salary cap regarding the creation of rosters for the time being.
There are a few surprises on the 2015 edition of the Sportingintelligence list. A new team has not only cracked into the top-ten. It is now, according to the report, paying out the highest team salary in all of global sports. Only one of the two clubs that made it through to the 2015 Champions League Final is mentioned in this piece, and it is probably no coincidence that most are expecting that team to win that competition this time around. This piece begins with a Premier League side that may have won its second trophy in two seasons depending on when you come upon this piece.
Values can be found here
10 Arsenal: £4,054,066 / $6,950,225 average annual pay
It has been yet another up-and-down roller coaster ride for the Gunners and for devoted Arsenal fans. There was a time when Arsenal teased that they may be capable of making a run and winning the Premier League title, but they were unable to keep up with juggernaut Chelsea heading into the spring months. It is not all bad times over at the Emirates, however, as the Gunners will have an opportunity to defend their FA Cup victory from a year ago. Arsenal will take on Aston Villa at Wembley this time around, and Arsene Wenger's side will be favorites to once again lift that trophy.
9 New York Yankees: £4,263,577 / $7,309,407 average annual pay
2015 was supposed to be the start of a painful rebuild for the Major League Baseball outfit. Nobody told that to the New York Yankees, however, who have surprised some by coming out of the gates this spring and managed to hang around the top of the division standings up through Memorial Day weekend. One cannot speak about the Yankees for long without mentioning Alex Rodriguez, who has hit the ball well upon returning from a suspension that some thought could have prematurely ended his career. A-Rod has flashed some power during the first quarter of the campaign, blasting ten home runs in his first 37 regular season appearances.
8 Chelsea: £4,353,056 / $7,462,809 average annual pay
Of all of the global sports powers that are mentioned in this piece, Chelsea may have to be considered to be the true bargain as it pertains to team salaries. The Blues have only the third-highest team salary in the Premier League, and yet Jose Mourinho helped guide his team to a league title that was earned weeks before Championship Sunday arrived on the schedule. Chelsea's run in the Champions League was cut short well before Mourinho would have liked, and he will be tasked with sorting out the club's woes in that competition beginning next season. For now, he and his side can celebrate achieving Premier League glory.
7 Bayern Munich: £4,468,643 / $7,660,968 average annual pay
Somebody out there may want to mention that Bayern Munich were humbled in the semifinal round of the Champions League this spring. Bayern were bounced from that competition by what will be, at worse, regarded as the second-best club in all of world football for 2014-15, and there is no shame to losing to that talented side. There is no question that Bayern remain the kings of German club football, as the club eased to yet another league title that was wrapped up before May. The Bundesliga is going to remain Bayern's to lose for the foreseeable future, and they should easily crack into next year's edition of this list.
6 Manchester United: £4,679,377 / $8,022,247 average annual pay
It turns out that those who kept level heads and suggested that everybody needed to give Louis van Gaal some time to figure his new Manchester United squad out were being logical, after all. United did not compete for the Premier League title this time around – anybody expecting them to do so for 2014-15 was always being unrealistic – but Van Gaal does seem to have a worthwhile plan moving forward, and he also completed a necessary task in returning the proud club back to the Champions League. United may not be back just yet, but they are well on their way.
5 Los Angeles Dodgers: £4,679,937 / $8,023,207 average annual pay
No Major League Baseball side spent more on team salary than did the Los Angeles Dodgers this year. The Dodgers can certainly afford to splash the cash. They play in a massive television market, and Los Angeles is currently in the middle of a media rights deal that could earn the club over $7 billion over a period of 25 years. With that said, club ownership is probably ready for the Dodgers to replace the San Francisco Giants as the dominant team in the National League West and, truth be told, in all of the Big Leagues. We know LA has the pitching to win it all.
4 Barcelona: £4,715,116 / $8,083,518 average annual pay
It was back in May 2014 when Real Madrid had replaced Barcelona as the kings of Spanish football and when Los Blancos won the Champions League. How quickly things can change. While Real could be on the verge of hiring a new manager and of dumping at least a couple of star players, it was Barcelona that climbed back up table and finished this season as La Liga champions. Barca have also qualified to the Champions League Final, where they will meet Serie A royalty Juventus. Most experts expect Barcelona to win that match and lift yet another trophy.
3 Manchester City: £5,015,122 / $8,597,844 average annual pay
Manchester City do not splash the cash on transfers and on big-name players to finish second in the Premier League table and not at all in the Champions League discussion at this time of the year. City fell from first in last year's version of this list to third for 2015, and some would say that City Football Group had better do whatever possible to at least attempt to lure the likes of Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling to make switches over to the blue version of Manchester this coming summer. Before those negotiations occur, City will have first to determine in Manuel Pellegrini is the right man to be the team's boss moving forward.
2 Real Madrid: £5,040,240 / $8,641,385 average annual pay
Gareth Bale was the hero for Real Madrid in the second half of 2014, helping the club win two trophies thanks to goals that he netted. The former Tottenham Hotspur star is now being linked with making a return to the Premier League after having somewhat of a disappointing campaign. Bale may not be the only man to leave the Spanish giants in the summer of 2015. Manager Carlo Ancelotti could be fired by the club after Real fell behind rivals Barcelona in every competition this season. Global sports truly are a “what have you done for me lately?” business.
1 Paris Saint-Germain: £5,298,693 / $9,083,993 average annual pay
Some may scoff when reading or hearing that Paris Saint-Germain have hopes of winning the Champions League as soon as the spring of 2016. Do not be so surprised. PSG won the Ligue 1 title for a third straight campaign, and the club is already looking at growing in depth following being ousted from the top club competition in the world by Barcelona. Injuries and fatigue, not to Barca's overall greatness, made PSG massive underdogs in that Champions League encounter, and the kings of French club football need to make improvements to the squad if they are to hang with the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid.