The World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Every team’s general manager starts off with the same goal: to build a franchise that contends for championships year in and year out.
However, with the nature of the business being what it is, the odds are stacked against any team trying to achieve this. Out of close to 30 teams in most leagues, only one franchise can come out on top with a championship. And with unprecedented parity in most major leagues, every management decision is a crucial one. One smart draft choice or trade can put a team in a position to win, but a single mistake can also make a team a perennial bottom dweller.
Owners have a similar perspective, but they also want to build a franchise that is worth money in the long-run. To do that, they need to consider factors outside of winning: merchandise sales, sponsorships, costs, and other business decisions need to be made. They need to figure out how to capture the imagination of fans, and how to salvage the value of a franchise even when they are losing most games.
Today’s chart, using data from Forbes, is a hat tip to the teams that are lucky enough to count themselves among the most valuable in the world. Further, we also look at how the list has changed over time, and what happens to the valuations of franchises that are fortunate to be contenders on an ongoing basis.
What Makes a Team Valuable?
Multi-billion dollar sports teams don’t just grow on trees.
Instead, the massive value assigned to teams like the Dallas Cowboys or Manchester United is the culmination of a variety of important factors: market size, fan appeal, sport economics, international cross-over potential, profit, success, history, and many others.
Here’s a Top 10 List of the world’s most valuable sports teams – and how that list has changed since 2010.
The ranking list has a few big takeaways on what is needed to become a valuation monster:
Market size matters:
New York and Los Angeles do very well for valuation, even without many recent championships. These places are home to millions of fans, as well as massive amounts of dollars to be made from sponsors and media rights.
Recent success helps:
The Patriots have made seven Super Bowl appearances since 2000, cementing the franchise as one of the most valuable sports teams in the world.
Recent failures hurt:
The Redskins haven’t won a playoff series since 2005 (Wildcard) – and partially as a result, they have fallen out of the Top 10 ranking for the most valuable sports teams in 2017.
History is a factor:
Manchester United hasn’t won the EPL in the last few years, but the club’s history speaks for itself. The Yankees have been mediocre in the last five years, but fans know they’ll be back eventually.
Sport economics are key:
Why are there so many NFL teams on the Top 50 list? The economics just work better, and it translates to team valuations.
What’s unique about Manchester United, the Yankees, or the Patriots? You’ll see people wearing their gear all around the world – they have rare cross-over appeal to international markets, and this means more dough.
Championships and Team Value
It’s clear that winning has a role in team value – but how big of a difference can it make?
Next, we’ll look at how value has changed for teams that have been particularly successful in recent years, like the Golden State Warriors, New England Patriots, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors franchise is worth +622% more than it was back in 2010, thanks to recent success. The team has made the finals in each of the last three years – and they’ve taken home the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy twice.
New England Patriots
Like other perennial champions, the Pats have their fair share of detractors. Team owner Robert Kraft likely doesn’t care though – his team is now worth $3.4 billion, a 150% increase in value since 2010. They also have the hardware to show for it.
Despite a storied history as an “Original 6” team in the NHL, the Blackhawks found themselves in a bit of a funk in the 2000s. That all changed in 2006 and 2007, when the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – and now the team has won three Stanley Cups since 2010.
Recent winning streaks do help – and championships translate to other value categories as well. Winning builds the team’s history and brand, converts bandwagon fans, and helps teams create an international presence.
Or as the late Al Davis often said, “Just win, baby.”
One Team Towns
To finish, here’s a final visualization that highlights the valuations of franchises in “One Team Towns” – cities in North America that each hold only one of the Big Four (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) franchises.
Of course, once the Raiders move to Las Vegas after their current lease expires, this map will change once again.
How the S&P 500 Performed During Major Market Crashes
How does the COVID-19 market crash compare to previous financial crises? We navigate different contextual factors impacting crashes.
How the S&P 500 Performed During Major Market Crashes
Like spectacular market peaks, market crashes have been a persistent feature of the S&P 500 throughout time.
Still, the forces underpinning each rise and fall are often less clear. Take the COVID-19 crash, for example. Despite lagging economic growth and historic unemployment levels, the S&P 500 bounced back 47% in just five months, in a stunning reversal.
Drawing data from Macrotrends, the above infographic compares six historic market crashes—examining the length of their recoveries and the contextual factors influencing their durations.
The Big Picture
How does the current COVID-19 crash of 2020 stack up against previous market crashes?
|Title||Start — End Date||Duration (Trading Days)||% Drop|
|Black Tuesday / Great Crash*||Sep 16, 1929 — Sept 22, 1954||300 months (7,256 days)||-86%|
|Nixon Shock / OPEC Oil Embargo||Jan 11, 1973 — Jul 17, 1980||90 months (1,899 days)||-48%|
|Black Monday**||Oct 13, 1987 — May 15, 1989||19 months (402 days)||-29%|
|Dot Com Bubble||Mar 24, 2000 — May 30, 2007||86 months (1,808 days)||-49%|
|Global Financial Crisis||Oct 9, 2007 — Mar 28, 2013||65 months (1,379 days)||-57%|
|COVID-19 Crash***||Feb 19, 2020 — Ongoing||5 months+ (117+ days)||-34%|
Price returns, based on nominal prices
*Black Tuesday occurred about a month after the market peak on Oct 29, 1929
**The market hit a peak on Oct 13th, prior to Black Monday on Oct 19,1987
***As of market close Aug 4, 2020
By far, the longest recovery of this list followed the devastation of Black Tuesday, while the shortest was Black Monday of 1987—where it took 19 months for the market to fully recover.
Let’s take a closer look at each market crash to navigate the economic climate at the time.
After the Fall
What were some factors that can help provide context into the crash?
1929: Black Tuesday / Great Crash
Following Black Tuesday in 1929, the U.S. stock market took 7,256 days—equal to about 25 years—to fully recover from peak to peak. In response to the market crisis, a coalition of banks bought blocks of shares, but with negligible effects. In turn, investors fled the market.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Board rose the discount lending rate to 6%. As a result, borrowing costs climbed for consumers, businesses, and the central banks themselves. The tightening of rates led to unintended consequences, with the economy capitulating into the Great Depression. Of course, factors that contributed to its prolonged recovery have been debated, but these are just a few of the actions that had implications at the time.
1973: Nixon Shock / OPEC Oil Embargo
The Nixon Shock corresponded with a series of economic measures in response to high inflation. Soaring inflation devastated stocks, consuming real returns on capital. Around the same time, the oil embargo also occurred, with OPEC member countries halting oil exports to the U.S. and its allies, causing a severe spike in oil prices. It took seven years for the S&P 500 to return to its previous peak.
1987: Black Monday
While the exact cause of the 1987 crash has been debated, key factors include both the advent of computerized trading systems and overvalued markets.
To curtail the impact of the crash, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan aggressively slashed interest rates, repeatedly promising to take great lengths to stabilize the market. The S&P took under two years to recover.
2000: Dot Com Bubble
To curb the stratospheric rise of U.S. tech stocks, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates five times in eight months, sending the markets into a tailspin. Virtually $5 trillion in market value evaporated.
However, a number of well-known companies survived, including eBay and Amazon. At the time, Amazon’s stock price cratered from $107 to $11 while eBay lost 75% of its market value. Meanwhile, a number of Dot Com flops included Pets.com, WorldCom, and FreeInternet.com.
2007: Global Financial Crisis
Relaxed credit policies, the proliferation of subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, and commercial mortgage-backed securities were all factors behind the market turmoil of 2007. As banks carved out risky loans packaged in opaque tranches of debt, risk in the market accelerated.
Similar to 1987, the Federal Reserve initiated a number of rescue actions. Interest rates were brought down to historical levels and $498 billion in bailouts were injected into the financial system. Crisis-related bailouts extended to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Federal Housing Administration, and others.
2020: COVID-19 Crash
In 2020, historic fiscal stimulus measures along with trillions in Fed financing have factored heavily in its swift reversal. The result has been one of the steepest rallies in S&P 500 history.
At the same time, the economy is mirroring Great Depression-level unemployment numbers, reaching 14.7% in April 2020. In short, this starkly exposes the sharp disconnect between the markets and broader economy.
History offers many lessons, and in this case, a view into the shape of a post-coronavirus market recovery.
Although the stock market is likely rallying off Fed liquidity, investor optimism, and the promise of potential vaccines, it’s interesting to note that the trajectory of this crash in some ways resembles the initial rebound shown during the Great Depression—which means we may not be out of the woods quite yet.
As the S&P 500 edges 2% shy of its February peak, could the market post a hastened recovery—or is a protracted downturn in the cards?
This graphic has been inspired by this Reddit post.
Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country
As the global population ages, pension reform is more important than ever. Here’s a breakdown of how key countries rank in terms of pension plans.
Ranked: Countries with the Best and Worst Pension Plans
The global population is aging—by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65.
As our aging population nears retirement and gets closer to cashing in their pensions, countries need to ensure their pension systems can withstand the extra strain.
This graphic uses data from the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) to showcase which countries are best equipped to support their older citizens, and which ones aren’t.
Each country’s pension system has been shaped by its own economic and historical context. This makes it difficult to draw precise comparisons between countries—yet there are certain universal elements that typically lead to adequate and stable support for older citizens.
MMGPI organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:
- Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
- Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from government, and the level of government debt.
- Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.
These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 37 different countries, representing over 63% of the world’s population.
Here’s how each country ranked:
The Importance of Sustainability
While all three sub-indexes are important to consider when ranking a country’s pension system, sustainability is particularly significant in the modern context. This is because our global population is increasingly skewing older, meaning an influx of people will soon be cashing in their retirement funds. As a consequence, countries need to ensure their pension systems are sustainable over the long-term.
There are several factors that affect a pension system’s sustainability, including a region’s private pension system, the state pension age, and the balance between workers and retirees.
The country with the most sustainable pension system is Denmark. Not only does the country have a strong basic pension plan—it also has a mandatory occupational scheme, which means employers are obligated by law to provide pension plans for their employees.
Adequacy versus Sustainability
Several countries scored high on adequacy but ranked low when it came to sustainability. Here’s a comparison of both measures, and how each country scored:
Ireland took first place for adequacy, but scored relatively low on the sustainability front at 27th place. This can be partly explained by Ireland’s low level of occupational coverage. The country also has a rapidly aging population, which skews the ratio of workers to retirees. By 2050, Ireland’s worker to retiree ratio is estimated to go from 5:1 to 2:1.
Similar to Ireland, Spain ranks high in adequacy but places extremely low in sustainability.
There are several possible explanations for this—while occupational pension schemes exist, they are optional and participation is low. Spain also has a low fertility rate, which means their worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to decrease.
Steps Towards a Better System
All countries have room for improvement—even the highest-ranking ones. Some general recommendations from MMGPI on how to build a better pension system include:
- Increasing the age of retirement: Helps maintain a more balanced worker-to-retiree ratio.
- Enforcing mandatory occupational schemes: Makes employers obligated to provide pension plans for their employees.
- Limiting access to benefits: Prevents people from dipping into their savings preemptively, thus preserving funds until retirement.
- Establishing strong pension assets to fund future liabilities: Ideally, these assets are more than 100% of a country’s GDP.
Pension systems across the globe are under an increasing amount of pressure. It’s time for countries to take a hard look at their pension systems to make sure they’re ready to support their aging population.
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