(WFI) English Premier League champions Manchester United are named as the world’s most valuable sports team.
The Red Devils, who last night kicked off their pre-season tour of the USA with a 4-1 thrashing of New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium, are said to be worth $1.86 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s annual top 50 list.
Manchester United’s sponsorship deals, global merchandising revenues and trophy wins in recent years continue to keep the American-owned club at the top of the pile.
The club’s four-year shirt sponsorship with Aon is worth £80 million ($129 million) while its 13-year Nike partnership is valued at around $490 million.
Last season United – bought by the Glazer family for $1.5 billion in 2005 – won a record 19th English Premier League title.
They were also UEFA Champions League finalists, losing out to Barcelona.
The Red Devils have 333 million supporters around the world, according to Forbes.
In comparison, Barca are only 26th on the Forbes list of top 50 most valuable sports franchises, worth $975 million.
Only eight football teams made the top 50 rankings, which are dominated by US teams particularly NFL franchises. The league’s 32 teams currently divide $3.8 billion annually under existing broadcast agreements which expire after the 2013 season.
The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys ($1.81 billion) and MLB’s New York Yankees ($1.7 billion) are placed second and third, with the NFL’s Washington Redskins fourth.
Spanish football giants Real Madrid ($1.45 billion) were ranked fifth, with gross revenues estimated at $537 million, second only to New York Yankees among all sports teams.
Arsenal ($1.19 billion) were placed seventh, with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich ($1.03 billion) at No. 19.
AC Milan ($838 million) are No. 34. Chelsea ($658 million) are only ranked 46th.
Juventus ($628 million) should see an improvement on their 49th spot next time the Forbes list is published.
Next season they move from the Stadio Olympico into a new stadium, which the club believe will double match-day revenues. It has 41,000 seats, including 3,600 premium seats.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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