Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool Feature in List of Best-Paid Sports Teams

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

Wayne Rooney
Wayne RooneyAssociated Press

Manchester City, neighbours United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the world's highest-paying sports teams, a new survey has revealed.

As published by Sporting Intelligence and via Nick Harris of the Daily Mail, the Premier League quintet are the only English-based sides to make a top 20 chart that highlights how much their players earn on average across a five-year period.

La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid top the list that includes Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Inter Milan, as well as representatives from America's NBA, NFL and MLB organisations.

Here are the top 20:

World's Best Paying Sports Teams Across Five-Year Contracts
PositionTeamLeagueAvg. Five-Year Player Earnings% Difference Between 2010-14
1.BarcelonaLa Liga£24,995,540.12
2.Real MadridLa Liga£24,350,543.9
3.New York YankeesMLB£23,556,354.5
4.Manchester CityEPL£20,839,120.265
6.Bayern MunichBundesliga£19,693,049.36
7.LA LakersNBA£19,669,056.-7
8.Manchester UnitedEPL£18,419,895.38
9.Philadelphia PhilliesMLB£18,137,151.43
10.AC MilanSerie A£17,462,035.47
11.Boston CelticsNBA£17,391,495.-5
12.Boston Red SoxMLB£17,380,474.25
13.Los Angeles DodgersMLB£17,262,085.79
15.Inter MilanSerie A£16,891,378.49
16.Chicago BullsNBA£16,264,043.51
18.Detroit TigersMLB£16,089,214.31
19.New York KnicksNBA£16,076,961.10
20.Dallas MavericksNBA£160,007,858.-23, via Daily Mail

As noted by Harris, joining any of the top 20 in "a single five-year deal should provide enough money to set up a player for life." Interestingly, the average wages shown fail to compare with the unthinkable amounts earned by the sporting world's top individuals.

Wayne Rooney earns £15.6 million per year at Manchester United, meaning he will rake in over £78 million across his newly signed five-and-a-half-year contract, as reported by Gary Rose of BBC Sport.

Paul White

Rose also notes it would take U.S. president Barack Obama 65 weeks to earn what Rooney does in seven days. The Englishman's new deal sees him easily eclipse the annual salary of Cristiano Ronaldo (£14.25 million) and Lionel Messi (£12.08 million), indicating United are paying over the odds for a less-effective player.

Using Rose's calculations that Premier League footballers earn between £25,000-£30,000 per week on average, the division's five-year salary median comes in at between £6.5 million and £7.8 million.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has been criticised at times for his policy on player wages, spoke about his philosophy in 2013 (via Jason Burt of The Telegraph):

“We pay well. We pay very well,” Wenger said ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie away to Swansea City. “I’ve spent all my life making sure people who work for us are paid well and I believe if you can do it, you do it.”

Wenger said that his principle was “to pay something that makes sense and is defendable in front of every single player” adding: “We make exceptions sometimes but they are not maybe so high. If you want to keep making profit you have to respect that.”

Away from world football, the list is dominated by baseball, basketball and American football representatives. Global brands such as the New York Yankees and L.A. Lakers continue to receive vast support, and indeed, they are willing to pay for big-name stars.

Alex Brandon

While his current season has been hampered by injury, Kobe Bryant's recently signed extension with the Lakers is worth $48.5 million (roughly £28.84 million). Forbes outlined Bryant as the highest-earning individual from any team sport with its most recent rich list.

The impact of modern owners can certainly be seen on the average salary list. Manchester City's sharp rise in wages is down to Sheikh Mansour's involvement and a sudden increase in funds. The Etihad club have lured many world-renowned names to England over the past few seasons—including Robinho, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure—paying handsomely for their services.

Fenway Sports Group owner John W. Henry controls two teams inside the top 20. He is a key backer of both Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox, increasing both organisation's wages by 25 percent across the last four years.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Liverpool co-owner John Henry looks on with wife Linda Pizzuti prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Ge
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Henry's Premier League wage bill could be about to increase. Liverpool currently sit atop the English division with four games remaining and are sure to lure costly talent if they capture this year's trophy.

This list highlights exactly how influential key sporting brands have become and how important sustained success is. While sides such as City enter the top 20 after an expensive takeover, many teams included have a recent history of dominance.

Manchester United, the Yankees and Chicago Bulls are among the highest spenders largely due to their era of dominance. The performance of iconic individuals across many years—including David Beckham, Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan—have helped develop the kind of finances we see today.

With teams such as Paris Saint-Germain, AS Monaco and the Brookyln Nets receiving a major injection of funds in recent times, we can expect to see this list change dramatically across the coming years.