The 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world

The 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world
July 18, 2014, 2:45 pm

Hello, world — and happy Friday.

Yesterday afternoon, Forbes.com published its annual list of the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams and because I love you, I took a devastating bullet and clicked through ALL 50 SLIDES in the gallery.

With that, here are five highlights, with a Boston twist at the end —

1. The three most valuable* franchises in the world are soccer teams. “Not in this country! Not never!” screams the old white sports columnist. And he’s right, at least for now — in this case, all three teams are from Europe:

1) Real Madrid — $3.41B

Disclaimer: Forbes warns of a knock off product, known as Fake —pronounced “fah-kay” — Madrid, that’s selling on the black market for $1.2B. Don’t be fooled.

2) FC Barcelona — $3.2B

If you’re not big into soccer, “FC” stands “Fungus Cornrows”.

3) Manchester United — $2.81B

Although earlier this week, ManU (not Ginobili) signed a 10-year/$1.3B deal with Adidas. That should help the old bottom line.

*Note 1: These values aren’t official. It’s one source’s assessment of what each team is worth. Also, it doesn’t factor in the bidding process and other negotiations. For instance, this past January Forbes valued the Clippers at $575M — last month, Donald Sterling sold for $2B.

2. Of the 50 teams on the list, 30 play in the NFL — damn you, Goodell — and that means only two NFL teams did NOT make the list.

One is the Jacksonville Jaguars — duh.

The other team is a bit surprising based on history and the brand — but then again, the Oakland Raiders are a mess. They haven’t posted a winning record in 12 years; their last playoff game was the blowout loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII — for reference, that Raiders team was led by QB Rich Gannon, who’s now 48 years old, and receiver Jerry Rice*, who’s a few months shy of 52.

Once a proud and powerful franchise, before long the Raiders might not even have their own stadium. So yeah, this makes sense.

*Note 2: I was shocked to see Rice listed as the leading receiver on the 2002 Raiders, but it’s true. At 40 years old — 40 years old! — he started all 16 games, caught 92 balls for 1,211 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Anyway, just a quick reminder that Jerry Rice is a cyborg.

3. The New York Yankees are the most valuable team in baseball, ranking fourth overall with a $2.5B price tag — although that doesn’t include the value of George Steinbrenner’s prized jar of “Famous Yankee Facial Trimmings.” It’s one big clump of hair, stored on a shelf in Hal Steinbrenner’s office, and filled with everything from remnants of Reggie Jackson’s mustache to Joe Torre’s nose hair to Jorge Posada’s eyebrows. Estimated price: $200M.

The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable NFL team, ranking fifth overall with a $2.3B price tag — although that should increase if Jerry Jones follows through with plans to sell his vast collection of prehistoric whale bones and use the cash to build a bigger jumbotron at AT&T Stadium.

The New York Knicks are the most valuable NBA team, ranking 13th overall with a $1.4B price tag — although that doesn’t account for Phil Jackson’s newly integrated holistic budget. Peyote doesn’t come so cheap these days. (Also, keep in mind what the Clippers just sold for).

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most valuable NHL team*, ranking 26th overall with a $1.15B price tag — although if you convert that into Canadian dollars, well, it’s pretty much the same thing.

*Note 3: The Leafs are the only NHL team to crack the Top 50. In response, citizens of Montreal have filed a class action harassment suit against the publisher of Forbes. The city’s police force has promised to work around the clock until justice is served.

4. Three teams from last year’s Top 50 dropped out* this year. The Raiders were one of them, and they were joined by the New York Mets — Madoff! — and Formula 1’s McLaren Racing Team.

*Note 4: So if three teams dropped out, three teams entered the fray. Those teams are the St. Louis Rams, Manchester City and . . . the Boston Celtics.

5. Believe it or not, three teams from Boston made the list.*

The Patriots are valued at $1.8B and rank eighth overall. The Red Sox are valued at $1.5B and rank 11th. And then there’s the newcomers: The Celtics, coming off their worst season in many years and one of the worst in the team’s long, storied history, but still valued at $875M — good for 45th overall.

How’d the Celtics move up? Cost-cutting. They saved money by ditching hefty salaries previously paid to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett; by avoiding the luxury tax for the first time in seven years; by replacing a coach who made $7M with a coach who makes $3.6M.

And OK, that’s fine. Wyc Grousbeck and company have proven a willingness to open their wallets when a championship is within reach — there’s no need to waste money when the time isn’t right.

*Note 5: When you take a step back and consider the magnitude of this list — the fact that (as of the 2012 census) Boston was the 24th biggest city in the United States and only the 81st biggest city on Earth — it’s pretty remarkable to see three local teams among the 50 most valuable in the world. Even more, that two of the world’s 11 most valuable franchises call Boston home. Even more, that Boston is one of only three cities, worldwide, with three teams in the Top 50. (Along with New York and Chicago).

But then again, “value” is obviously a relative term. In this case, value is for the owners, not for the people or the city. It’s a number that stands for a tiny group of incredibly rich guys who stand to become even richer if they choose to sell.

So I ask, what’s “value” to the people — to the Boston sports fan? In the here and now, which local team do we “value” most? Which team meeeeeeans the most?

It might be fun to go against the grain here and blow Forbes’ “value” out of the water, but really, it’s hard to argue with the Patriots. In fact, I don’t see it any way around it.

I’m not talking about value in terms of tradition, because you can’t beat the Celtics on that level. I’m not talking about value in terms of history, faith and raw emotion because the Red Sox (although it’s dwindling) still have that market cornered.

I’m talking about a scenario in which some magical sports God reveals himself in the middle of City Hall Plaza and tells the masses:

“Hear ye, plebes! For an entire year, I shall eliminate all but one your professional sports franchises! During that year, time will progress at its natural rate — players will grow older, contracts will keep ticking and in some cases expire — but nothing but this one team will truly exist. So, what’s your pick? WHO is your pick?”

I pick the Patriots, oh gracious sports God.

I choose Brady and Belichick, because right now nothing* is worth more than the combined total of every minute those two have left in the tank.

*Note 6: Not even Steinbrenner’s fancy jar of hair.*

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