Manchester United, amid constant reports of debt and disorder, is still the most valuable franchise in all of sports.

Financial publishing and media company, Forbes released its annual list of the world’s most valuable teams this week, with the English Premier League club Manchester United st the top of the list, valued at $1.84 billion.

United seems to have a stranglehold on the top spot of a list dominated by the National Football League, who place all 32 franchises in the top 50.

The success of Manchester United, financially, seems at odds with the clubs appearance of instability.  The struggles of United’s American owners, the Glazer family, are well documented in the soccer world. Vocal fan movements, such as the Green and Gold movement, demanding the family sell the club, are large and well supported. Though United have a debt in the range of $1 billion, the Glazer’s refuse to entertain offers for the club. The family also own The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers who come in at number 12 on the list.

The clubs main sponsor, American insurance company AIG was a major victim in the recent economic collapse, posting losses in the range of $61 Billion in 2009. A new sponsorship deal with Chicago based reinsurance company Aon has been made, and though terms of the deal were not released, it is thought to be in the area of $122 Million over 4 years, which is 50% more than the AIG deal. If accurate, the deal would be the biggest in sports sponsorship history.

The Red Devils deal with American sports apparel company, Nike, pays the team $470 million over 13 years plus a 50% share of profits on specific merchandise, according to Forbes. United’s dedicated television channel MUTV, is shown in 192 million homes. Exposure over the past decade, through the signing of the world’s most recognizable talents such as David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, as well as global tours that see the club play in North America and Asia, has increased the already massive presence of the club. United reportedly sell more jerseys worldwide than all the NFL teams combined.

With a brand, crest and name recognizable in every country and every continent, Manchester United have an annual revenue of $459 million and the club claims to have 333 million followers and 139 million core fans worldwide.

Real Madrid is listed at number 6 on the list and lead all teams with a revenue of $563 million of which $255 million generated annually from broadcast rights alone. Aresnal come in eighth place. Barcelona (25th), Bayern Munich (27th), Liverpool (41st), AC Milan (43rd), Juventus (47th) and Chelsea (48th) round out the soccer teams in the top 50.

Interestingly, the New York Yankees, who come in at number three on the list are interested in purchasing London based Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, who did not make the list.

The Top Ten

2. Dallas Cowboys

3. The New York Yankees

4. Washington Redskins

5. New England Patriots

6. Real Madrid

7. New York Giants

8. Arsenal

9. New York Jets

10. Houston Texans

Other notes: All 32 NFL teams made the list. Baseball has 5 teams:  The Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. Basketball place the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks and motorsports giants Ferrari and Maclaren Mercades also make the top 50.

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