A “report card” of MLS team valuations is in, and while the Philadelphia Union isn’t last, it’s certainly a lot closer to the bottom than to the top.
Forbes has put out a list of the most valuable teams in world soccer before, and it also has done lists for other sports, and while any list of “valuations” is necessarily a lot of projections and estimations, it remains a decent proxy by which to grade just how much a MLS franchise would be worth on the open market and the relative rank of just how valuable each team is in relation to each other.
Atlanta United was on top, and given the attendance and merchandise sales, it’s no wonder. They’ve been the darlings of the league since their first season in the league last year, and it’s not surprising to see them on top. Rounding out the top five are the Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club, and Toronto FC.
You’ll have to go down the list quite a bit to find the Union. They sit in 18th place, with Real Salt Lake, the Montreal Impact, the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids the only teams below them. All of those teams are in metropolitan areas smaller than Philadelphia and two earn revenue in Canadian dollars but pay their payroll expenses in American dollars.
Still, even with the Union down near the bottom of the list, Forbes values the Union at $175 million, which is close to double the $90 million the team was valued at five years ago in the 2013 rankings. At that time, the Union were the 11th most valuable franchise in MLS, and while the league has added a number of clubs to the league, the Union still fell relative to its peers, dropping from 11th out of 19 teams to 18th out of 23 teams.
While the performance on the field hasn’t been extremely successful, the Philadelphia Union, as an investment, has been. The estimated value of the franchise rose an estimated 94.4 percent in that time.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of the most recognized evaluations of the New York Stock Exchange, finished 2013 at $16,576.66, and it closed yesterday at $25,080.50, which is an increase of 51.3 percent. Therefore, the investment in the Union was a remarkable 43.1 percent greater than the gain in the Dow during the past five years.
Not too bad if your name is Jay Sugarman. Not so great for fans of the Union who would like to see an increase in the club’s value correspond with an increased investment in the players on the field.