Manchester United First Team Worth $3 Billion, According To Forbes

A sports team worth $3 billion? That may have sounded like a fantasy only a few years ago, but that’s the value now attached to Manchester United by Forbes magazine.

The English soccer club, which currently leads the Premier League by five points, has become the first sports team worth $3 billion. That eye-catching valuation has been put down to shares of the famous club soaring over the past few days.

Forbes reports that Manchester United stock has hugely outperformed the S&P 500 since its IPO. The resulting rise in share value has made the club’s owners, including the Glazer family and famous investor George Soros, even wealthier than before.

Not only is Manchester United the first team worth $3 billion, but the rest are playing a serious game of catch-up. The second most valuable sports franchise is the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, worth $2.1 billion.

According to Forbes, Manchester United’s soaring share value means the club now has a total enterprise value (that’s equity plus debt) of $3.3 billion.

While the popularity of the NFL remains largely confined to the United States, the biggest soccer clubs boast huge followings across the globe. Manchester United has an unprecedented number of fans in developing markets. One survey from May 2012 found the club’s worldwide fanbase had swelled to 659 million, with 325 million of those in Asia. It’s little surprise that a soccer club should become the first team worth $3 billion.

United’s latest valuation was also helped by new sponsorship deals with Japan‘s Kansai and China Construction Bank. There is also the prospect of more Champions League payouts this year with a big-money tie against fellow European giants Real Madrid scheduled for next month.