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Real Madrid, Barcelona top Forbes rich list

NEW YORK -- Spain may have been embarrassingly dethroned as World Cup holders, but Real Madrid and Barcelona are still champions at making money after they were named as the world's two richest sports franchises.

For the second successive year, Forbes business magazine tagged European champions Real Madrid, where Cristiano Ronaldo plays, as the number one sports team with a value of US$3.44 billion.

Barcelona, the home of Lionel Messi, Neymar and now the notorious Luis Suarez, are second in the chart with a current value of US$3.2 billion, while English giants Manchester United are ranked at three at US$2.81 billion despite their miserable season.

The only other soccer club in the top 10 are German champions Bayern Munich whose current value of US$1.85 billion is good enough for seventh spot.

The rest of the top 10 is from Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The New York Yankees are number four, valued at US$2.5 billion with the Dallas Cowboys, worth US$2.3 billion, holding the fifth place.

With 30 teams in the top 50, for the second consecutive year, the NFL occupies 60 percent of this year's list.

The full list also included six teams from MLB and four from the NBA.

The NFL's prominent standing on the list and the potential sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft head Steve Ballmer for US$2 billion shows the value of big market sports teams in the USA is higher than ever.

Ballmer's proposed record purchase price for the Clippers is 15 times the revenue. By comparison, in March the Milwaukee Brewers were sold for five times the revenue.

The Clippers sale is currently hung up in the U.S. court system. Forbes valued the team at US$575 million in January before tentative deal was announced.

Forbes said the stock market's bull run over the last five years, soaring TV rights and a limited number of teams for sale has contributed to skyrocketing values like the Clippers.

The average value of the top 50 teams is US$1.34 billion, which is an 8-percent increase from last year, according to Forbes which has been rating the world's leading sports clubs since 1998.

The New York Mets were one of three teams that dropped off this year's list of the top 50 — the other drop-offs include the Oakland Raiders in the NFL and McLaren in Formula 1.

Forbes top 10:

1. Real Madrid US$3.44 billion, 2. Barcelona US$3.2 billion, 3. Manchester United US$2.81 billion, 4. New York Yankees US$2.5 billion, 5. Dallas Cowboys US$2.3 billion, 6. Los Angeles Dodgers US$2.0 billion, 7. Bayern Munich US$1.85 billion, 8. New England Patriots US$1.8 billion, 9. Washington Redskins US$1.7 billion, 10. New York Giants US$1.55 billion.

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