Real Madrid Worth More Than the Dallas Cowboys or the Yankees

Real Madrid most valuable sports team
Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos contribute to the global appeal of Real Madrid, which has been ranked as the world's most valuable sports team for the third year in a row. Picture taken May 13, 2015. Juan Medina/Reuters

Real Madrid are the world's most valuable sports team for the third year running, despite the English Premier League being worth more than double the Spanish La Liga.

Business magazine Forbes estimates Real to be worth $3.26 billion, ahead of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and baseball's New York Yankees, both estimated to be worth around $3 billion.

Real, who won the Champions League in 2014 but failed to win either domestic or European honours this season, generated $746 million in revenue, with $277 million coming from TV rights, the highest broadcast revenue in all sports.

However, the team's status could be jeopardised following a new Spanish law passed in May, which aims to redistribute money from TV rights among Spanish football teams more equitably.

Real's traditional rivals Barcelona were ranked fourth, while Manchester United were the top-ranked English team in fifth.

Spain's two major clubs still hold a slight edge despite a recent study by Deloitte, which found that the Premier League's revenue for the 2013-14 season was a record $4.25 billion, with Spain trailing behind both England and Germany's Bundesliga on $2.1 billion.

Until May, Spanish football clubs had been able to negotiate TV rights individually with broadcasters, meaning that Real and Barcelona receive around half of the annual $709 million distributed to La Liga clubs.

The controversial new rules, which were passed into law in May and precipitated the threat of strike action by Spanish footballers, mean that clubs collectively bargain for TV rights.

Under the new deal, 90% of revenues from the sale of broadcasting rights will go to La Liga clubs, with 10% going to second division teams. Of the La Liga money, half will be shared out equally between all 20 teams, and the other half will be allocated according to criteria such as recent results and size, meaning that it will still be weighted towards the league's two most successful clubs.

The deal will kick in at the start of the 2016-17 season. However, it contains a caveat that, for six years from the start of the new deal, no club can earn less from TV revenue than it has in the current season, meaning that the TV revenue of the top two will be protected until 2022.

The top 50 most valuable sports teams was dominated by US franchises, with just eight European teams making the cut. The only non-football European franchise to make the top 50 was Italian Formula 1 team Ferrari, which were estimated to be worth $1.35 billion.

However, Real are falling behind Barcelona in the social media stakes. The Catalan club, which completed a domestic and European treble last season, have a total of 100.9 million followers across Facebook and Twitter, making them the most popular sports team in the social media sphere.

Real are in second place with 99.8 million followers. In contrast, the NFL's 32 franchises have a combined 98 million followers.