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Manchester City has been picked as the best-paying professional sports team, shelling out an average of $8.1 million annually per player, according to a global salary survey by ESPN The Magazine/SportingIntelligence.
However, Nick Harris, editor of SportingIntelligence.com, which compiled the data, said Manchester City's stint at the top could be short as teams can no longer spend more than they earn under UEFA financial fair play regulations.
The UEFA regulation, according to Harris, might cause Manchester City's payroll to level off or drop slightly.
"Until now they've been vastly overspending because they've been able to via their billionaire benefactor, Sheikh Mansour," said Harris. "But such benefactor subsidy is now very limited, outlawed effectively."
The survey included 278 teams in 14 leagues and seven sports across 10 countries. The 8,093 athletes surveyed earned a total of $15.75 billion. The Yankees had the highest team payroll at $228.8 million.
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped from 69th last year to second, spending $7.47 million per player after their payroll jumped from $95.1 million last year to $216.6 million this season.
Real Madrid, at $7.26 million per, dropped from second to third while Barcelona fell to fourth ($7.21 million) after two years at the top in the yearly survey.
The Miami Marlins made the biggest drop in the ranking, falling from 29th to 185th after unloading contracts of some big-name players, including shortstop Jose Reyes.
Major League Baseball is the top U.S. league in the disparity between the top-paying team for average annual player salary and the lowest (9.14 times higher), followed by the NBA (2.3 to 1 disparity), NFL (1.57 to 1) and NHL (1.51 to 1).
Globally, the Scottish Premier League has the largest disparity (22.3 to 1) while the Australian Football League has the lowest (1.18 to 1).
With salary caps keeping the NHL and NFL ratios low, Harris said UEFA's financial fair play rules might continue to keep the European football leagues high.
"Financial fair play, perversely, might actually cement the pay differentials in those leagues because big teams with big attendances and big income will be able to spend much more than little teams because their income is bigger," he said.
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