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Barcelona, Real Madrid Hold Top Spots Amongst 100 Highest-Paying Teams in Sports, part of ESPN The Magazine “Money Issue” On Newsstands Friday


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World soccer powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid, English Premier League’s Manchester City and Chelsea and the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers lead this year’s list of the Top 100 best-paying sports teams, in the world, according to data compiled for ESPN The Magazine and featured in its new “Money Issue,” hitting newsstands this Friday, May 4.

The survey was compiled for ESPN The Magazine by, and encompasses 278 teams in 14 major pro leagues, covering seven sports, spanning 10 countries and comprising 7,925 athletes making a combined $15.69 billion in salary.  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.

The complete list of the Top 100 paying teams can be viewed here:

Once again topping this year’s list are two of the world’s biggest soccer clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, with average annual salaries of $8.68 million (up from $7.9 million last year) and $7.8 million (up from $7.35 million) per player, respectively (all dollar figures are U.S.).  Two of English Premier League Soccer’s top teams—Manchester City ($7.4 million per player annually) and Chelsea ($6.8 million per player annually)—crept up this year’s list from the 10th and sixth spots in 2011, respectively.

The Miami Marlins had the biggest jump of any team on the list, going from 123rd to 29th.  Last year, the Marlins paid their players an average of $2.2 million; this year, they’re paying $4.4 million.

The NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers ($6.3 million per player annually) fell one slot to round out the top five this year, while the Orlando Magic ($4.55 million per player), who ranked fifth last year, dropped to the 28th spot this year and saw a 29 percent decrease in players’ average weekly salary.

Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees dropped out of the top five this year and saw an eight percent decrease in players’ average weekly salary, with an overall payroll of $197,962,289.  In the number nine slot, the Philadelphia Phillies came in as the next-highest spending MLB team ($5.8 million per player annually), up from their 13th place ranking in 2011.  The Boston Red Sox, ranked at number eight last year, dropped to number 19 and saw a 15 percent decrease in average annual pay. 

In all, 10 international soccer teams, six NBA teams and four Major League Baseball teams comprise the top 20 spots. The highest-paying team in the survey outside of those three sports is cricket’s Kolkata Knight Riders ($4.16 million) of the Indian Premier League at number 36, three spots higher than IPL rival Mumbai Indians ($4.14 million) at number 39.

The Buffalo Sabres ($3.02 million) were the highest-paying NHL team, coming in at 72nd overall, while the Pittsburgh Steelers ($2.93 million) were tops among NFL teams at number 75.

The survey encompassed 14 major pro leagues in seven sports: Australian rules football (AFL), baseball (MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball of Japan), basketball (NBA), cricket (IPL), hockey (NHL), football (CFL, NFL) and soccer (Bundesliga, English Premier League La Liga, Major League Soccer, Serie A, Scottish Premier League).

ESPN The Magazine’s “Money Issue” also features an in-depth look at the best-paid athletes in 31 sports (Wang Yihan is tops in Badminton); the highest-earning athletes in 200 countries around the world (Floyd Mayweather is the United States’ highest-paid athlete, raking in more than $40 million a year) and the best-paid animals in sports (thoroughbred horses, bulls and even pigeons round out the list).

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Media Contact:

Carrie Kreiswirth, 860.766.6042, [email protected]