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The World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams

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The World's 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams

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.

Ranking of the Most Valuable Sports Teams over time

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.

Cross-over appeal:
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.

Golden State Warriors

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.

New England Patriots

Chicago Blackhawks
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.

Chicago Blackhawks

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.

One Team Towns

Of course, once the Raiders move to Las Vegas after their current lease expires, this map will change once again.

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Green

Visualized: The Power of a Sustainable Investment Dollar

Do sustainable investments make a difference? From carbon emissions to board diversity, we break down their impact across three industries.

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Sustainable Investment

Visualizing the Power of a Sustainable Investment Dollar

Sustainable investments are booming.

Between January and November 2020 alone, investments in sustainable ETF and mutual funds grew 96%. The UN Principles of Responsible Investment now has over 3,000 signatories representing over $100 trillion in assets. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission established a Climate Risk Unit to analyze climate risk across derivative markets, and as of March 2021, new sustainability disclosures have come into effect in Europe.

But how do we know if sustainable investments have made a difference?

To answer this question, the above infographic from MSCI examines the effect of a sustainable investment dollar by looking at real-world examples.

A Sustainable vs. Unsustainable Dollar

To start, investing legend Benjamin Graham has compared the stock market to a “voting machine.” Just as consumers vote with their purchasing decisions, investors vote with their investment dollars. Especially in the short term, as more dollars flow to sustainable companies, this builds their exposure and access to capital.

In the long term, meanwhile, the market can be compared to a weighing machine. The market recognizes companies with profitable business models that improve their intrinsic value over time. Ultimately, this allows sustainable companies to expand and continue operating.

Given the rising momentum in both green assets and climate targets, here is how investment dollars have influenced and driven change across three industries.

1. Clean Energy vs. Fossil Fuel

Over the last several years, the energy sector has been associated with many of the problems causing climate change. For this reason, many investors are seeking out greener energy alternatives. But how does moving investment dollars from an ESG laggard to an ESG leader support the environment and society?

First, here is a brief explainer of ESG laggards and leaders:

  • ESG laggards: companies with the weakest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in their sector.
  • ESG leaders: companies with the strongest environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in their sector.
Industry laggard: U.S. oil & gas companyIndustry leader: U.S. utilities company
Scale of carbon-intensive business lines equal to 73% of its operation47% lower CO2 emissions than the industry average
This is the equivalent of adding 26 million cars on the road annuallyThis is the equivalent of removing 9.9 million cars off the road annually
1 of 20 oil and gas companies are responsible for contributing to one third of GHG emissions since 1965Uses 3X as many renewable sources than industry average
3X fewer jobs are created vs. energy efficient sector, resulting in lower productivityThis is roughly the same as saving over 9 million pounds of coal burned
MSCI ESG Rating: CCCMSCI ESG Rating: AAA

Source: MSCI ESG Research

Based on the above example, investors have the ability to finance powerful green initiatives that reduce emissions by almost half, relative to their peers.

2. Safe vs. Unsafe Working Conditions

Weak safety protocols are a key sustainability issue for the industrial sector. Here’s how two companies compare:

Industry laggard: South African mining companyIndustry leader: U.S. mining company
11 fatalities in 2019Zero fatalities in 2019
Faced lawsuits from miners surrounding lung diseases contracted from dust exposure in gold mines
Settlement cost: $350 million
Board-level oversight monitors health and safety performance
Lags behind peers in high incident ratesLeads peers in low incident rates
Lags behind peers in setting incident reduction targetsLeads industry in lost time incident rate & total recordable injury rate
MSCI ESG Rating: CCCMSCI ESG Rating: A

Source: MSCI ESG Research

Despite the risks involved in the sector, investors can choose to support companies that take greater precautions to protect their workers.

3. Building Trust vs. Losing Trust

Over the last several years, the financial sector has faced increased scrutiny over fraudulent activities. Moving investment dollars from an ESG laggard to ESG leader may make a difference:

Industry laggard: U.S. bankIndustry leader: Dutch bank
$3 billion settlement in creating fictitious accounts to meet aggressive sales targetsSustainable finance portfolio valued at over $20 billion
Drop in top-tier bank ratings13% annual increase in climate finance
Board effectiveness questionedIncludes over 60 green loans, mobilizing environmentally friendly projects
Resignation of board membersOver 55% of board is female
MSCI ESG Rating: CCCMSCI ESG Rating: A

Source: MSCI ESG Research

From board diversity to green loans, a sustainable investment dollar supports companies that are actively advancing society and the environment.

Sustainable Investment: The Time to Act

Recently, investor dollars and shareholder activism have been closely linked.

Between 2018 and 2020, large institutional investors filed 217 shareholder proposals on climate change alone, putting increased pressure on companies. Meanwhile, 270 proposals were filed on corporate political activity and 228 on fair labor and equal employment opportunity over the same timeframe. Across all ESG proposals, $2 trillion in assets were pushing for more equitable corporate action.

Through the power of a dollar, investors can send a clear signal to companies: the time for sustainable investing is now.

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Markets

China’s Economy: 40 Years of Soaring Exports

China’s economy today is completely different than 40 years ago; in 2021 the country makes up the highest share of exports globally.

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China's Economy

Animated Chart: 40 Years of Soaring Exports in China

China has the second highest GDP in the world, and it exports 15% of all the world’s goods. But how did this come to be?

A mere 40 years ago, China’s economy was in an entirely different situation, making up less than 1% of global exports and still in the infancy stages of building its economy. The above animated chart from the UNCTAD showcases China’s rise to global trade dominance over time.

Timeline: The Rise to Power

The China of the mid-20th century looks remarkably different when compared to the modern-day nation. Prior to the 1980s, China was going through a period of social upheaval, poverty, and dictatorship under Mao Zedong.

The 1970s

Beginning in the late 1970s, China’s share of global exports stood at less than 1%. The country had few trade hubs and little industry. In 1979, for example, Shenzhen was a city of just around 30,000 inhabitants.

In fact, China (excluding Taiwan* and Hong Kong) did not even show up in the top 10 global exporters until 1997 when it hit a 3.3% share of global exports.

YearShare of Global ExportsRank
20004.0%#7
20057.3%#3
201010.3%#1
201513.7%#1
202014.7%#1

*Editor’s note: The above data comes from the UN, which lists Taiwan as a separate region of China for political reasons.

The 1980s

In the 1980s, several cities and regions, like the Pearl River Delta, were designated as Special Economic Zones. These SEZs had tax incentives that worked to attract foreign investment.

Additionally, in 1989, the Coastal Development Strategy was implemented to use strategic regions along the country’s coast as catalysts for economic development.

The 1990s and Onwards

By the 1990s, the world saw the rise of global value chains and transnational production lines, with China offering a cheap manufacturing hub due to low labor costs.

Rounding out the ‘90s, the Western Development Strategy was implemented in 1999, dubbed the “Open Up the West” program. This program worked to build up infrastructure and education to retain talent in China’s economy, with the goal of attracting further foreign investment.

Finally, China officially joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 which allowed the country to progress full steam ahead.

Made in China

Today China is a trade giant and manufacturing behemoth. Only the U.S. and Germany come close to its share of global exports, sitting at 8.1% and 7.8% respectively.

RankCountryShare of Global Exports (2020)
#1🇨🇳 China14.7%
#2🇺🇸 U.S. 8.1%
#3🇩🇪 Germany7.8%
#4🇳🇱 Netherlands3.8%
#5🇯🇵 Japan3.6%
#6🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR3.1%
#7🇰🇷 South Korea2.9%
#8🇮🇹 Italy2.8%
#9🇫🇷 France2.8%
#10🇧🇪 Belgium2.4%

China’s manufacturing industry has become dominant in producing just about anything from commonplace household items to integral pieces in automotive manufacturing. Some staples of Chinese manufacturing are:

  • Precision instruments
  • Semiconductors
  • Industrial machinery for computers and smartphones

COVID-19 made China’s integral role in the global economy even more visceral, as major delays in the supply chain occurred when the virus hit the country.

An Economic Superpower

In 2021, China’s trade recovery from the crisis has bested most other countries—in Q1 2021, its exports grew by almost 50% compared to the previous year’s quarter, to around $710 billion.

And the country is not slowing down any time soon. Further plans for economic development are well under way, like Made in China 2025, with the goal of becoming a dominant player in global high-tech manufacturing. Additionally, the famous One Belt, One Road initiative has been funding infrastructure projects globally over the past decade, and the country is also a founding member of the RCEP—which is soon to be the world’s biggest trading bloc.

However, China still faces a series of challenges, such as:

  • Population decline
  • The onset of labor saving technology
  • Trade wars with U.S. and sanctions from other trade partners, like Europe
  • The emergence of ASEAN trade powers, like Vietnam

A declining population has many implications like a shrinking workforce and domestic market. Additionally, many companies are setting up shop in less costly manufacturing hubs like Vietnam.

Furthermore, inexpensive innovations in labor-saving technologies, such as robotics and automation, have already begun to undermine the cheap manual labor that has made China the world’s manufacturer.

All of these elements and more could potentially spell a slowing of growth in China’s export dominance. However, while the future for China may not be certain, currently, global trade and production could not function without it.

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