The soccer pitch is filled with more green than ever. The world’s 30 most valuable football teams are worth an average of $2.17 billion. A year ago, we valued 20 teams, which had an average appraisal of $2.53 billion. In contrast, this year’s top 20 teams have an average value of $2.89 billion — 14% higher.
Real Madrid may not have successfully defended its Champions League crown this season, but the Spanish giant can at least lay claim to being the most valuable soccer club in the world. With a valuation of $6.07 billion, Madrid eclipsed Manchester United ($6 billion) in Forbes’ annual ranking and retained the top spot from 2022. Barcelona fell from second to third behind the Red Devils.
As expected, the Premier League is well represented. England has six clubs in the top 10 and 12 in the top 30.
The increase in values wasn’t fueled by revenue, which increased just 2.5%, to an average of $496 million per team, but rather by the higher enterprise multiples (enterprise value divided by revenue) that buyers are paying for teams. The average enterprise multiple for the 20 most valuable teams this year is 5.9, compared with 4.8 a year ago. Consider: Manchester United, ranked second on our list, could soon be sold for some $6 billion, 7.7 times revenue. Paris Saint-Germain will likely soon raise money in a minority-stake sale that will value the team at more than $4 billion, about 5.7 times revenue.
The 2023 rankings also reflect the growing financial might of Major League Soccer. Los Angeles FC became the first U.S. team to hit a $1 billion valuation when Forbes did its projections in February. According to an MLS team executive, LAFC was raising money at around a $930 million valuation early this year, 8 times revenue. The Los Angeles Galaxy ($925 million) follow closely behind. Sportico’s Kurt Badenhausen detailed how the lack of promotion and relegation in MLS both help to stabilize the value of each individual club and create “its own kind of scarcity.”
Elsewhere in the world, you can purchase a club in a lower league at a bargain price in the hope your investment pays off as it works its way up the pyramid. That’s simply not possible in the United States because MLS is a closed league.
Broadly speaking, it will be fascinating to see how valuations evolve over the course of the 2023-24 season.