English Soccer Club Manchester United Tops Annual Ranking of Most Valuable Sports Franchises

The team, which is owned by U.S. businessman Malcolm Glazer and has filed for an IPO, once again beat out European soccer rivals and all NFL franchises with an estimated value of $2.23 billion.

LONDON - European soccer giants, big NFL franchises and the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers - those are the teams that make up Forbes' 2012 list of the world's most valuable sports franchises.

But American football teams dominate the list overall as all 32 NFL teams made the top 50 list.

English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United, which recently filed for an IPO in the U.S., again tops the rankings as the most valuable soccer and sports team, with Forbes estimating it is worth $2.23 billion thanks in part to lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of insurer Aon and DHL Express and merchandise sales.

That was up from an estimated $1.86 billion in 2011 and puts the team known as the Red Devils, which is owned by U.S. businessman Malcolm Glazer who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 19 percent ahead of second-ranked Spanish rivals Real Madrid, which rose from the fifth spot last year thanks to a jump in its estimated value from $1.45 billion to $1.88 billion).

The New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys are the top-ranked U.S. sports teams with an estimated value of $1.85 billion each. That means they share the third spot on the list, ahead of the Washington Redskins ($1.56 billion).

In 2011, the Cowboys came in second, followed by the Yankees, with both teams gaining slightly in value since then, even though Real Madrid's bigger jump from $ billion last year saw the Spanish team leapfrog them.

The top 10 are rounded out by Major League Baseball's LA Dodgers ($1.4 billion), the NFL's New England Patriots ($1.4 billion), Spanish soccer club Barcelona ($1.31 billion), the New York Giants ($1.3 billion), which beat out cross-town rivals New York Jets ($1.23 billion), and London soccer franchise Arsenal ($1.29 billion).

The NBA, led by the LA Lakers, and Formula 1 car racing, led by 15th-ranked Ferrari, each placed two teams among the 50 most valuable sports franchises.

The Lakers gained 13 spots on the list to take the 35th rank with an estimated value of $900 million, up 40 percent from last year, according to Forbes. It highlighted that the Lakers struck a lucrative TV deal with Time Warner Cable beginning with the 2012-2013 season valued at an average of $200 million a year, compared to $35 million under the team's old agreement.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai


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