Home #CulxureSport US sports teams dominate best paid sides in world sport

US sports teams dominate best paid sides in world sport


US teams from Major League baseball and the NBA fill 11 places among the top 20 best-paid teams in global sports according to a new study to be published today. EPL soccer team Manchester City are No 1 in the list, with their players earning an average of $8.1m per season each, but the New York Yankees ($8m) and LA Dodgers ($7.8m) are No2 and No3 and there are places in the top 20 for nine other American teams.

The Brooklyn Nets are at No 6 and the Chicago Bulls at No 9 with the New York Knicks, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Miami Heat, San Francisco Giants and LA Lakers all featuring high in the list.

The Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS), produced for ESPN The Magazine, has been tracking comparative pay at major sports teams for five years. The Nets have surged year-on-year in the list from No 16 to No 6 thanks to the largesse of Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Not only is Prokhorov footing the Nets’ $102m total payroll in 2013-14, or $6.8m per player this season, but he will need to pay an additional $70m or thereabouts in luxury tax for exceeding the NBA’s wage cap.

The GSSS looks solely at earnings for playing sport, not for endorsements or other extra-curricular activities. The 2014 report considers 294 teams in 15 leagues in 12 countries across seven different sports: soccer, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, cricket and Australian Rules football. The report looks at numbers from either current or most recently completed seasons, depending on availability of accounts and other information.

The NBA, NHL and NFL numbers are for seasons 2013-14 and the MLB data from the opening-day payrolls for 2014. The unique metric in the study is ‘average first-team’ pay, or the total payroll divided by the players in the ‘first-team’ squad, roughly equivalent to the active roster.

The Dodgers have the biggest payroll for this group than any team in any sport worldwide: $241,128,402. But this is spread across 31 players so less per man than the clubs ahead of them in the list. The Yankees move to No2 on average salary, paying $8,031,948 per player on the opening day. The Dodgers are at No3, paying $7,778,336 per man.

The Lakers have taken a tumble from No7 down to No19, principally because two high-earning players in 2012-13 left and were not replaced with expensive names. The losses of Dwight Howard (free agency move) and Metta World Peace (waived) helped to take to payroll from $101m down to $78m, and the average Lakers salary fell from $6.3m to $5.2m.

The highest earning NFL team does not make an appearance until No115 on the list, where the Minnesota Vikings players earned $2.3m on average in the 2013 season that ended with the 2014 Super Bowl. The best place NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks, are at No76 on nearly $3m per man per year.

The biggest pay increase year-on-year in percentage terms (average salary) is at Toronto FC, where a 256% increase in average salary to around $600,000 per player per year is largely down to signing marquee names who were playing in Europe, notably England international star Jermain Defoe, midfielder Michael Bradley and Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

The salary survey is now in its fifth year and also contains a list of the teams who have paid the highest cumulative average salaries over five years.

At No1 in that list is Spain soccer giant Barcelona, where an average player has earned $37,975,600 over five seasons. Real Madrid are No2 ($37m) and then the Yankees ($35.8m), then the EPL’s Manchester City ($31.7m) and Chelsea ($31m).

Manchester City jump out of that top five for growth of salary over the five years. In the first survey, City players earned an average of $2.2m a year; now that is $8.1m. This is entirely down to the club being bought in 2008 by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, a multi-billionaire. US sports fans will learn more about him when City’s sister team, NYCFC, start to play in MLS.

There are 49 teams on the five-year list where the average player has earned $20 million or more over five years. The highest-place NHL team on the five-year earnings list is the Blackhawks at No73, with $13.9m over five years per average player. The highest-placed NFL team is 20 places lower, with the Dallas Cowboys at No93, on $11.8m.

The NBA is the highest-paying league as a whole, with 441 players at 30 teams in the 2013-14 season earning an average of $4.5m per year each. The Premier League is the best paying soccer league in the world, with the average annual pay at $3.5m per player.



1 (1) Manchester City Premier League $8,109,912 ($155,960)
2 (5) New York Yankees MLB $8,031,948 ($154,461)
3 (2) Los Angeles Dodgers MLB $7,778,336 ($149,583)
4 (3) Real Madrid La Liga $7,586,438 ($145,893)
5 (4) Barcelona La Liga $7,446,562 ($143,203)
6 (16) Brooklyn Nets NBA $6,814,067 ($131,040)
7 (9) Bayern Munich Bundesliga $6,689,311 ($128,641)
8 (12) Manchester United Premier League $6,566,775 ($126,284)
9 (19) Chicago Bulls NBA $6,055,463 ($116,451)
10 (8) Chelsea Premier League $6,053,686 ($116,417)
11 (15) Arsenal Premier League $5,928,172 ($114,003)
12 (20) New York Knicks NBA $5,867,808 ($112,842)
13 (14) Detroit Tigers MLB $5,824,233 ($112,004)
14 (11) Philadelphia Phillies MLB $5,791,002 ($111,365)
15 (22) Boston Red Sox MLB $5,717,792 ($109,958)
16 (17) Miami Heat NBA $5,568,543 ($107,087)
17 (23) San Francisco Giants MLB $5,490,339 ($105,583)
18 (35) Juventus Serie A $5,336,821 ($102,631)
19 (7) LA Lakers NBA $5,182,926 ($99,672)
20 (21) Liverpool Premier League $5,171,351 ($99,449)