ManU has become "the first sports team in the world" with a $3B valuation, according to Mike Ozanian of FORBES. Shares of the English football club, which were offered to the public last August at $14, "did poorly at first but have soared the past few days," closing at less than $17. The recent increase in its stock price has pushed up the club's enterprise value (equity plus debt) to $3.3B, the "highest value of any team in the world." The second most valuable sports team in the world is the NFL Dallas Cowboys, worth $2.1B (FORBES, 1/27). The MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS noted the valuation "means a huge increase in the overall wealth of the Glazer family," who has a controlling interest in the club, and billionaire investor George Soros -- the 22nd richest person in the world -- who bought a 7.5% stake in ManU. The club's commercial growth "appears to be driving the share price up, with the club announcing several new sponsorship deals since August" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 1/28). In London, John Drayton reported Man City is "poised to overtake London powerhouses Arsenal and Chelsea" to become the Premier League’s second-best club at making money. The EPL champion has surpassed the annual revenues of Tottenham and Liverpool by winning the title, and should move behind only neighbors ManU in the next two years "if they maintain similar success" (DAILY MAIL, 1/28).
Former England rugby coach Tony Smith "has expressed concern at a damning report that claims Super League clubs are on the edge of 'a financial abyss,'" according to the PA. The study, written by Rob Wilson, a sports finance specialist from Sheffield Hallam University, "has revealed that 11 of the 14 top-flight clubs have combined debts of more than" £60M ($94M). The new season "will start on Friday without a main sponsor and in the past six months two clubs, Bradford and Salford, have teetered on the brink of bankruptcy." Wilson's report, which was featured on Monday's BBC Inside Out program, "overshadowed the Super League XVIII launch held at Manchester's Etihad Stadium." Wilson said: "You have three or four teams that are doing very well, three or four teams doing poorly and a group of teams that struggle to wash their face financially. The overall effect is that the league itself will struggle for finance." Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington said that the Rhinos "have made a profit in each of the past nine years but concedes that mismanagement has caused problems at other clubs." Hetherington said, "We're becoming heavily dependent on television revenue and also historically on benevolence." He added: "We have a salary cap which should enable clubs to be profitable or at least break even. Given that there is more money coming into the sport than at any other time, it ought to make us very sustainable" (PA, 1/28).