IN NEWS that should come as no major shock -- just like Ricky Martin declaring he is gay -- the New York Yankees are the best-paid team in world sport, measured by average pay, ahead of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea, with the Dallas Mavericks of basketball's NBA in fifth, according to a review of global sports salaries to be published on Friday.
The report covers 211 teams, drawn from the world's richest competitions. While the Yankees, which included former Madonna-dater Alex 'A-Rod' Rodriguez, are the best-paid team, basketball's NBA is the best-paid league, followed by cricket's IPL, the MLB and then the English Premier League in fourth.
The average first-team pay at the Yankees was £89,897 per player per week in 2009, or £4.7m per player last year, when the Yankees won the World Series for the 27th time. The Yankees spent so much on salaries they had to pay a further £15.7m in 'luxury tax' to the MLB for overspending.
Real's players earned an average £4.2m per year in the period under review for Spanish football, while the corresponding figures were £4.1m at Barcelona, £3.59m at Chelsea and £3.56m at the Mavericks.
The report -- the inaugural Annual Review of Global Sports Salaries -- compares average pay on a like-for-like basis, looking at weekly and annual "first-team" averages, with "first team" defined by competitive action in the respective leagues under review.
Other leagues included are ice hockey's NHL and American football's NFL, as well as Japan's NPB baseball league (the highest-paying sports league in Asia, the IPL aside), and Serie A, the world's second highest paying football league.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are included from Spain -- as the only football clubs outside England in the top 30 payers -- while football leagues from the US (MLS) and Scotland (SPL) are included as representatives of "small" leagues from the world's most popular game.
Manchester United join Chelsea in the top 30 -- at No14 -- with average first-team pay calculated at £55,818 per week (£2.9m a year) for the period under review. For European football the data is from the summer of 2008, so it excludes the height of Manchester City's spending. For all other leagues, the figures come from seasons played wholly or ending in 2009. Other high-paying Premier League sides include Arsenal at No31, who paid £50,289, while Liverpool, 33rd on the list, paid £48,662.
The report, written for the website sportingintelligence.com, aims to find a meaningful comparison between earnings, and study how pay affects performance.