World soccer powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Barcelona lead this year’s list of the best-paying sports teams in the world, according to the ESPN The Magazine/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey. The survey—in its fifth year—encompasses 333 teams in 17 leagues, covering seven sports around the globe, spanning 13 countries, comprising 9,731 athletes, making a combined $17.94 billion in salary. An online video highlights the Top 15 teams in total payroll and average annual salary, and the NBA is most generous with its checkbook.
(The survey’s salary numbers are calculated from an average of base salaries among players, accounting for current or most recently completed team seasons and exclude bonuses, endorsements, appearance fees or any other source of extra compensation.)
Additional points of note:
- Eight of the 12 top-paying teams — based on the average annual pay of team members — are soccer clubs, including the first four in the 2015 ranking: Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1) $9.1 million; Real Madrid (La Liga) $8.6 million; Manchester City (English Premier League) $8.6 million and Barcelona (La Liga) $8.1 million.
- As far as overall team payroll, the Dodgers top the list for the second consecutive year: The team’s overall payroll is 73 percent larger than the entirety of all MLS team payrolls and six and a half times larger than the entirety of CFL payrolls.
- The payrolls of four teams — the Dodgers, Paris Saint-Germain, the Yankees and Real Madrid — are each bigger than some leagues’ payrolls. Among them: Chinese Super League soccer ($215 million); NPB baseball in Japan ($213 million); AFL Australian Rules football ($171 million); MLS ($158 million); J-League — soccer/Japan ($110 million); Scottish Premiership soccer ($76 million); IPL cricket in India ($74.6 million); and the CFL ($41.5 million).
- The NBA is the league with the highest average salary per player: NBA, $4.6 million; MLB, $4.2 million; EPL, $3.8 million; NHL, $2.6 million; Bundesliga, $2.3 million; and NFL, $2.1 million.
- The second-highest climber in the survey — after the Rajasthan Royals cricket team — is the Miami Marlins, up 62 spots, largely thanks to Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million deal.
This confirms that the world’s richest sports teams (by average earnings per player) are concentrated principally in elite European soccer and in the NBA and MLB. Indeed in the top 40 teams in this year’s list, 20 of 40 are NBA teams, nine are MLB, six are EPL, two are La Liga (Spanish soccer), and one each are Ligue 1 (French), Bundesliga (German) and Serie A (Italian).
The highest earning group of players collectively in any one single league are NBA basketball players, earning an average $4,575,918 in the 2014-15 season. This compares to:
$4,166,159 in MLB in 2015;
$2,614,928 in the NHL in 2014-15;
$2,110,829 in the NFL in 2014-15.
The best paying soccer league, the EPL, pays an average $3,822,003, putting it behind NBA and MLB but well ahead of NHL and NFL
Also featured are the 25 best-paid athletes in the world:
ESPN The Magazine annually determines those athletes worldwide who have had the most lucrative year. Boxers, soccer players and drivers dominate the top of the list. Welterweights Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao took the first two spots, earning $250 million and $150 million respectively, with the latter an estimated $93.7 million more than the third-place finisher, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi at $56.3, followed by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo earning $50.2 million. The 25 top earners averaged $43 million last year.
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Carrie Kreiswirth, 646-547-4686