LONDON - Barcelona and Real Madrid have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams, according to a British study.
The review published Wednesday showed annual average pay during the 2009-10 season was $7.9 million at Barcelona and $7.4 million at Real Madrid.
The Yankees are paying their players an average of $6.8 million this season. The team last year topped the review which is compiled by www.sportingintelligence.com and is being published by ESPN The Magazine.
The NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic occupy the fourth and fifth spots, followed by English Premier League champion Chelsea.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal also are among the 30 best-paid teams, making the Premier League the richest soccer league in the world. In the top 30, there are 10 NBA teams and eight MLB clubs.
The report looked at average first-team pay in 14 of the world's leading sports leagues, including Aussie Rules Football and cricket's Indian Premier League.
"We've know for years that the biggest bucks have been in American basketball and baseball but the rise and rise in wages among the elite of European football continues, closing that gap," said Nick Harris, the report's author.
That, however, could change with new regulations from the Union of European Football Associations that starting next season will force clubs to stop spending more than they earn.
"Financial Fair Play regulations may act as a brake on this inflation in football pay in a few years' time, but for now the big guns in Europe are still splashing out," Harris said.