World’s most valuable team is now Real Madrid, not Manchester United

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For the first time since Forbes began producing their list of soccer’s most valuable clubs, Manchester United is not at the top,a  small irony the day after Premier League chief Richard Scudamore touted having the world’s biggest club. If the measure is value, then that’s not longer the case, because with an estimated current value of $3.3 billion, Real Madrid has ascended to the list’s top spot. Manchester United ranks second, while Barcelona sit third, the world’s three kings sitting atop a $1.3 billion gap to team number four.

How does a team become a $3.3 billion franchise? Here are some of the points Forbes picked out about El Real:

  • Revenue of $650 million during 2011-12, most in the soccer world.
  • Operating income of $134 million, second in the sports world to only the Dallas Cowboys.
  • New kit deal with adidas worth $40 million/year.
  • $39 million/year kit sponsorship with Emirates Airlines.
  • A revenue increase of 62% over the last three years
  • An average operating margin of 28% over the same time.
  • Oh, and having massive on-field success thanks to various transcendent stars.

Forbes has been compiling these rankings since 2004, so it’s not exactly like Real Madrid is ending an epic run of dominance. And it’s not like the Red Devils have fallen on their collective faces, either. As the magazine puts it, “It is not that the Red Devils have faltered. It is just that Los Merengues are simply bigger, more profitable and growing faster than Manchester United.”

The full list, below, includes six English Premier League clubs in the top 11, the product of lucrative television deals, not the least of which is NBC’s new pact with the circuit, set to kick-in this fall. Elsewhere on the list, Europe’s other big leagues are still well represented. Though Spain only have the big two, Germany and Italy place four clubs on the list. France has two, and encouragingly, Brazil’s league has one: Sao Paulo titans Corinthians.

Also is the range, in dollars, from top to bottom. The gap from first to 20th is “only” about $3 billion. Between Real Madrid and Newcastle, you can slot in a Barcelona.

Be sure to check out the whole piece, which goes into how the rankings were compiled. It also includes an interesting video with Mike Ozanian, the man in the byline.

Forbes’ Most Valuable Soccer Clubs – Top 20

1. Real Madrid ($3.3 billion)
2. Manchester United ($3.165 billion)
3. Barcelona ($2.6 billion)
4. Arsenal ($1.326 billion)
5. Bayern Munich ($1.309 billion)
6. AC Milan ($945 million)
7. Chelsea ($901 million)
8. Juventus ($694 million)
9. Manchester City ($689 million)
10. Liverpool ($651 million)
11. Tottenham Hotspur ($520 million)
12. Schalke 04 ($498 million)
13. Borussia Dortmund ($456 million)
14. Inter Milan ($401 million)
15. Olympique Lyonnais ($368 million)
16. Corinthians Paulista ($358 million)
17. Napoli ($330 million)
18. Hamburg SV ($300 million)
19. Olympique Marseille ($285 million)
20. Newcastle ($263 million)

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.