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Highest sporting salaries: Madrid fall big as Man Utd top football

According to a report from 'Sporting Intelligence', the Cavaliers of LeBron James leads the way as highest payers while football's elite clubs are left trailing in US sports' wake.
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Cristiano Ronaldo.

With the seemingly never-ending increases in players wages at Europe's top football clubs some people may be surprised to hear that none of them make the top three of the latest edition of the Global Sports Salaries Survey. Manchester United, who pay the highest average wage in football, come in fourth in the overall table.

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba are getting by.
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Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba are getting by.GEOFF CADDICKAFP

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Average basic first-team pay at the Premier League club has been calculated at 5.77 million pounds ($7.27 million) per year or 110,962 pounds per week. United sit behind the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, which pays an average annual salary of $8.7 million, baseball's New York Yankees ($7.68 million) and another NBA team, the LA Clippers ($7.65 million).

The survey is based on the reported pay of almost 10,000 sportsmen at 333 teams in seven sports and is published on the website. Barcelona are the second highest football payers with an average annual salary of 5.65 million pounds, followed by Manchester City (5.4 million pounds). Real Madrid fell from second highest to 19th in the list even with salary increases at the Bernabéu.

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Last year United were ranked below City, but United's 145 million pound close-season transfer splurge, which saw the arrival of the world's most expensive footballer Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has inflated their wage bill. The two Manchester clubs are the only Premier League teams in the overall sporting top 30, with Chelsea (34), Arsenal (47) and Liverpool (60) lagging well behind American sports teams, reflecting the pound's fall against the dollar, following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The Premier League remains the most lucrative global football league, with an average first-team pay of 48,766 pounds per week. That represents a 32-fold increase on the annual figure of 77,000 pounds for 1992-93 when the league began. Further increases are expected after the Premier League agreed domestic and global television deals worth around 8 billion pounds for 2016-19.

Average salaries

Nº Team (sport) Av. annual wage (€M) Av. monthly salary (€) 1. Cleveland Cavaliers (basketball) 7.9 153,267 2. New York Yankees (baseball) 7.1 153,267 3. Los Angeles Clippers (basketball) 7 135,560 4. Manchester United (football) 7 135,560 5. Barcelona (football) 6.8 132,080 6. Portland Trail Blazers (basketball) 6.8 130,885 7. Memphis Grizzlies (basketball) 6.7 129,096 8. Dallas Mavericks (basketball) 6.6 128,788 9. Manchester City (football) 6.5 126,796 10. Orlando Magic (basketball) 6.5 126,097

The emergence of the far east

Elsewhere in Europe, Bayern Munich are German football's best payers, with Juventus topping the league in Italy. But China has emerged as a financial force with the survey saying that five of the 14 best paid players in the world are contracted there. Ronaldo remains the world's best paid footballer on the equivalent of 365,000 pounds per week, the survey said. Television is also having a huge impact on the salaries for NBA stars, with the league negotiating a nine-year $24 billion deal in 2014.

The NBA contains six of the world's top 10 richest teams and 14 of the top 20. The survey covers 17 leagues in football, baseball, basketball, NFL, cricket, ice hockey and Australian Rules football.


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