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Sounders are most valuable team in MLS, Forbes wildly guesses

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It's only the third time since Seattle Sounders added the FC that Forbes has attempted MLS valuations. Their data is less complete than other attempts at soccer value estimates and probably does not mean much.

While it can be exciting to see Seattle Sounders at the top of a valuation list, and with the highest revenue and operating income in MLS per Forbes, those that claim ownership is cheap get free ammunition. But there are some things wrong with the numbers. Most notably, no work is shown for the estimates.

Looking at the 20th most valuable soccer team in the world (Galatasary) there is a lot of work shown. Forbes shows the relationship between matchday, broadcasting, and commercial revenues as well as brand value. There are historical numbers, debt/value ratios. They've taken accounting and made it acceptable.

With the MLS list there is this and only this;

Team Value ($M) Revenue ($M) Operating Income ($M)1
Seattle Sounders 245 50 10
LA Galaxy 240 44 4
Houston Dynamo 200 26 5

That's just the top three. Look at Forbes if you really want to see the full list. Of note, the 2012 valuations said that the Sounders made less revenue, but had nearly double the operating income and were worth 70 million dollars less. Since then the team launched a USL side, split off its business operations from the Seahawks, is renting its own offices, as well as other changes. The list of local sponsorship announcements that include revenue generation is short. It is zero.

The Forbes valuations also ignore the share in Soccer United Marketing that every investor/operator owns. Those marketing rights for the US National Teams, Mexican National Teams when visiting the USA, as well as a half-dozen of the largest teams in the world are valued in the millions, but are essentially an unknowable number.

Are MLS teams worth more than they were a few years ago? Absolutely. The new CBA, new TV contracts, new sponsorship deals and continuing interest from potential expansion markets demonstrate an increase in value.

What that increase is? It's not knowable.