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Here's a list put together of the top 10 pro sports franchises worldwide (yes that means it includes soccer) based on performance on the field and at the bank, plus one college program that deserves special mention. Here then is the list:
10. Los Angeles Lakers. It's hard to argue with the Lakers history of championships and they are the NBA's second most valuable team
9. FC Barcelona. The pride of Catalonia is perhaps Europe's most exciting team; where every major soccer club in the world makes millions from jersey sponsorship Barca is flush enough to pay a charity (UNICEF) to appear on its jersey.
8. Detroit Red Wings. The Wings are the most successful recently of the Original Six hockey teams and have the third highest value in the league behind the Leafs and the Canadiens so they get this spot almost by default despite their current attendance issues.
7. Boston Red Sox. Two World Series in three years puts the curse to rest for good. Fans fill charming Fenway, while brilliant ownership maximizes available revenue streams for a franchise value of $724 million.
6. Manchester United. As much a worldwide brand as a soccer club, Man U has been having renewed success on the pitch under the ownership of the Glazer family. The club is the most valuable soccer club in the world at $1.45 billion although annual revenue is surpassed by Real Madrid.
5. Dallas Cowboys. On field performance is beginning to catch up with the team's off field tabloid performance. As the team prepares to move into a new stadium in 2009, the value of the club rises to $1.5 billion making it the most valuable professional sports franchise in the world.
4. New York Yankees. A century plus winning tradition unequalled in any sport, the Yankees are synonymous with winning, not to mention with making and spending prodigious amounts of money. Franchise value is estimated to be $1.2 billion.
3. Real Madrid. The most successful soccer team in Spain and Champions League history, Los Galaciticos have also become a global marketing powerhouse. Current franchise value is $1.036 billion.
2. Tiger Woods. On his way to becoming, if he is not already, the greatest golfer who ever lived. Tiger is about to become the first individual athlete to ever earn $1 billion. His stated goal for 2008 is to win the Grand Slam and while that may be audacious, everyone takes him seriously.
1. New England Patriots. Football has not seen a dynasty like this since the Vince Lombardi Packers and that was a far different age. The Patriots are almost otherworldly, they are that much better than everyone else whether they win in two weeks or not. Estimated franchise value is a bit short of the Cowboys at only $1.2 billion but that is due to Gillette Stadium's age compared to the yet to open Cowboys Stadium.
Oh, yeah, the plus one:
College Program: UCLA: No school has ever had a major sport run like the UCLA basketball program had under John Wooden, but that is not why I selected the Bruins. It is not the biggest program - Harvard fields more teams; Ohio State grosses more money. No, UCLA simply leads the nation in the excellence of its athletic programs over the long haul where it counts the most: 100 NCAA team championships, 121 total national championships. It simply doesn't get any better than that.