Herald Sun

RICHES BUY BIG NAMES

- DAVID DAVUTOVIC

NOT only is Real Madrid the rich­est football club in the world, it is the world’s wealth­i­est sports fran­chise.

The Span­ish gi­ant was yesterday named by Forbes as the most valu­able sports team in the world for a third straight year, ahead of Dal­las Cowboys, New York Yan­kees, arch ri­val Barcelona, Manch­ester United and LA Lak­ers.

Val­ued at $3.26 bil­lion, the fig­ure in­cor­po­rates en­ter­prise val­ues, in­cor­po­rat­ing sta­dium deals.

Real has a $160 mil­lion wages bill, head­lined by Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, while its pen­chant for top-shelf, fash­ion­able tal­ent was un­der­lined last year when it signed ar­guably the World Cup’s two big­gest stars, James Ro­driguez (Colom­bia) and Toni Kroos (Ger­many).

Mario Torrejon, a re­porter for Span­ish ra­dio sta­tion Cadena Ser, said Real’s ‘sign stars’ pol­icy started in the 1950s when then-pres­i­dent San­ti­ago Bernebeu (whom the club’s sta­dium has been named af­ter) em­barked on an am­bi­tious in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ing spree, start­ing with star Ar­gen­tine striker Al­fredo Di Ste­fano.

“The club’s phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been to sign the best play­ers in the world and com­bine them with the best Span­ish play­ers to make the best team in the world,’’ Torrejon said.

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