Real Madrid is world's most valuable sports franchise, Forbes says

Last week, Real Madrid made Asier Illarramendi - a relatively unknown midfielder - one of the club's most expensive transfers ever, dishing out $50 million to cover his buyout clause and taxes.

But, according to a new survey, that's just pocket change for the Spanish powerhouse. Real Madrid has now overtaken Manchester United as the world's most valuable franchise in sports at $3.3 billion, Forbes magazine says in its annual top 50 list.

The iconic European soccer club's value soared in the past 12 months: last year, Forbes estimated the value of Real Madrid at $1.88 billion.

According to Forbes, Real Madrid boasted the highest revenues of any team in sports ($650 million in the 2011-12 season), and revenues jumped 62 percent over the last three years.

Manchester United fell back to No. 2, with a value of $3.17 billion. But don't feel sorry for Man U - their value surged nearly $1 billion from last year's $2.23 billion estimate.

European soccer teams earned a trifecta on the list as Barcelona came in third with a value of $2.6 billion, Forbes reported.

Two iconic U.S. teams round out the top 5 -- the New York Yankees are No. 4 overall at $2.3 billion while the Dallas Cowboys rank fifth at $2.1 billion.

As was the case last year, all 32 NFL teams made the top 50. Seven baseball teams and three NBA squads made the list - led by the New York Knicks ($1.1 billion put them at No. 23).

Ferrari, worth $1.15 billion, raced in at No. 21 on the strength of its sponsorship deals and 2.5 percent share of annual Formula 1 prize payouts, Forbes said.

The only NHL team to make the top 50 is the Toronto Maple Leafs - tying for 31st on the list with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Lakers at a value of $1 billion.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for


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