MLS average franchise value up 30% to US$313m

MLS average franchise value up 30% to US$313m
The average value of a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise has climbed 30 per cent from US$240 million to US$313 million, according to Forbes.

The business outlet says the year-on-year growth outpaces the rising team values in the National Basketball Association (NBA), which were up 13 per cent, as well as the 11 per cent increase in the National Football League (NFL), an eight per cent rise in Major League Baseball (MLB) and the six per cent climb in the National Hockey League (NHL). 

Atlanta United remain the North American soccer league’s most valuable franchise for the second straight year at US$500 million, up from US$330 million in last year’s rankings. The club’s revenue soared from US$47 million to US$78 million, resulting in an operating income of US$7 million.

Atlanta United are closely followed by the Los Angeles Galaxy (US$480 million), with Los Angeles Football Club (US$475 million), Seattle Sounders (US$405 million) and Toronto FC (US$395 million) rounding off the top five.

Despite the increase in team values, Forbes estimates that just seven of the league’s 24 teams – Atlanta United, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, DC United, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake -  turned a profit last season, with Toronto FC recording the biggest loss of US$19 million.

However, that has not stemmed the demand from investors looking to own an MLS franchise, even though expansion fees have soared to US$200 million. That is the price both St Louis and Sacramento will pay to join the league in 2022, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami and Nashville SC set to begin play next year before a team in Austin joins in 2021.

The confirmation of a Sacramento expansion club in October leaves just one spot left to fill if MLS is to stick to its target of 30 teams. A Charlotte bid led by David Tepper, the owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, is considered the front-runner to claim the last available place.

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