Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have overtaken baseball team New York Yankees as the best paid team in sport.
According to the Global Sports Salaries Survey 2011, the average annual first-team pay at Barcelona was £4.94m, or £95,081 a week. This made the current La Liga champions the world's best paid team by average salary.
Barcelona's bitter rivals Real Madrid, who last night defeated the Catalans in the Copa del Rey final, came second on the list with their 'Galacticos' earning £4.6m a year on average.
Meanwhile, the team that were top of the salary chart last year, the New York Yankees, now find themselves in third place where average earnings among first-team players were £4.2m a year.
Elsewhere in the top ten of best paid sports teams are basketball franchises the LA Lakers, Orlando Magic and Denver Niggets, baseball side Boston Red Sox, Inter Milan of Serie A and big-spending Premier League teams Chelsea and Manchester City.
The wide ranging survey compiled by sportinintelligence.com compares average first-team pay on a like-for-like basis in 14 of the world's most popular - and richest - sports leagues, including the NBA, IPL, MLB, Premier League, NFL, NHL, Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga.
Their findings show the Premier League remains the world's richest football league, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal joining Chelsea and Manchester City among the top 30 best paid teams. NBA teams occupy 10 of the top 30 places, MLB baseball teams occupy eight, La Liga, Serie A and the IPL occupy two each, and the Bundesliga one.
"We've know for years that the biggest bucks have been in American basketball and baseball but the rise and rise in wages among the elite of European football continues, closing that gap," says Nick Harris, the editor of sportingintelligence.com and author of the report. With the impending Uefa Financial Fair Play regulations due to be introduced, European clubs will be forced to curtail their spending in the near future: "Regulations may act as a brake on this inflation in football pay in a few years' time but for now the big guns in Europe are still splashing out," Harris said.
As well as a league table of all 272 featured teams, the full report from the award winning sportingintelligence.com reveals the best-paid leagues overall, examines how pay relates to performance, and includes prize earnings for the top golfers and top tennis players to see how team sports earnings compare to those in major solo sports. Click here for more information.
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