Barcelona are the best-paid team in global sport and the first to have average basic annual pay of more than £10 million ($17.8 million) according to a global survey published on Monday.
The Spanish giants return to the top of the pay rankings in the ninth edition of Sporting Intelligence’s Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS) for the first time since 2012.
The average annual basic first-team salary at the Camp Nou was more than £10.45 million ($18.6m) in late November of the 2018-19 season, the British-based researchers said.
Barcelona are well clear at the top of this year’s list but domestic rivals Real Madrid have climbed to second place.
Average basic pay at the Bernabeu is just over £8 million ($14.2m) per year.
In third place are last year’s number one team, the NBA’s salary cap trainwreck Oklahoma City Thunder with average salaries of £7.85 million ($13.9m).
The metric used by the GSSS is average first-team pay. It looks solely at earnings for playing sport, not for endorsements or other extra-curricular activities.
“In last year’s list, Barcelona were the world’s best-paid football team but it has still taken an extraordinary combination of new contracts and signings to lift their average basic pay this time above £10m from £6.6m a year ago,” the report said.
“Foremost among those contracts was the biggest pay deal in Barcelona’s history awarded to (Lionel) Messi, widely regarded now as the best footballer of all time.
His gross basic (pre-tax) annual Barca pay tops £50m per year, including guaranteed image rights fees.”
Six of the top 10 payers in this year’s GSSS are NBA teams — an ongoing consequence of a huge new TV deal in the NBA that kicked in before the 2016-17 season, the report said.
As recently as the 2015 GSSS, there were eight football teams in the top 10 but there are just four this year — Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United.
The NBA has extended its lead as the best-paying league by average salary (£5.9 million), ahead of the Indian Premier League cricket competition (£3.8 million when weekly pay is annualised) and MLB (baseball).
The Premier League remains the world’s best-paying football league.
Average pay in the 2018-19 season in England’s top division is nearly £3 million a year.
The list of highest paid sporting teams makes ugly reading for NBA teams, who have completely mismanaged their salary caps in recent seasons — most notably the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have the third-highest paid players in world sport, despite being eliminated by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The list also shows the San Francisco Giants have the highest-average paid players in sport outside of football and basketball — coming in at No. 27 on the list with average salaries of $10 million.
The Kolkata Knight Riders (No. 52 on the list) in the Indian Premier League are the highest paid cricket team — and the highest outside of football, NBA and Major League Baseball — with average incomes of $7 million, despite the annual tournament only lasting six and a half weeks.
The Los Angeles Kings (No. 82) have the highest average wages for an NHL team with average salaries of $4.8 million.
Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 85) have the highest wages in the NFL with average salaries of $4.5 million.
WORLD’S HIGHEST PAID SPORTING TEAMS — AVERAGE PLAYER SALARY
1. Barcelona — $18.6m
2. Real Madrid — $14.4m
3. Oklahoma City Thunder — $13.9m
4. Golden State Warriors — $13.9m
5. Washington Wizards — $13.6
6. Toronto Raptors — $13.5
7. Houston Rockets — $13.3m
8. Miami Heat — $12.5m
9. Juventus — $12m
10. Manchester United — $11.6m
11. Charlotte Hornets — $11.6m
12. Minnesota Timberwolves — $11.5m
13. Boston Celtics — $11.4m
14. Portland Trailblazers — $11.4m
15. Bayern Munich — $11.3m
16. Cleveland Cavaliers — $11.2m
17. Atletico Madrid — $10.9m
18. Paris Saint-Germain — $10.9m
19. Memphis Grizzlies — $10.8m
20. Manchester City — $10.7m
You can see the full list at sportingintelligence.com.
— with AFP