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Forbes values NYCFC at $800 million

The finance publication reports the club is the fourth-most-valuable franchise in MLS: Here are 6 takeaways.

Guess winning silverware helps the bottom line | Courtesy

Forbes published the valuations for all MLS clubs for the first time since 2019 in a juicy online feature, and New York City FC was pegged at an eye-watering $800 million. NYCFC trails only LAFC ($1 billion), LA Galaxy ($925 million), and Atlanta United ($825 million).

Before we get into what those valuations might mean, we want to point out that these numbers are essentially made-up. Forbes didn’t conduct an audit, and MLS clubs are under no obligation to submit their finances to the publication. These valuations are entirely speculative, estimations based not just on attendance and merchandising, but vibes. Or, in the words of the disclaimer published in Forbes, “All published figures are Forbes estimates; team values do not include stadiums, real estate or debt.” 

As The Athletic pointed out last year, MLS clubs are “like tech stocks” with inflated values that reflect potential growth. In addition, every club in MLS is worth $325 million simply for being a club in MLS: That’s the buy-in fee paid by Charlotte FC to join the league, which makes it the foundational value of every team. 

Keeping all that in mind, we’re deeply skeptical of the attention-grabbing headline that appeared in Forbes, namely “Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Clubs 2023: LAFC Is The First Billion-Dollar Franchise.” Did an intern with an abacus really arrive at that oh-so-clean $1 billion figure? Or was the actual figure, say, $970 million, and an SEO-savvy editor bumped it up to a billion with a “B” because who will know? 

All that aside, we like goofing around with numbers, and this article is as fine an excuse as ever to play around with millions – even billions! – of make-believe dollars. In that spirit, here are 6 takeaways. 

But first, here’s a table that compares the valuations published today and the valuations Forbes published in 2019. It’s best viewed on a desktop, but we know most of you are reading this on your phone.

MLS Franchise Valuations by Year (per Forbes)

RankClub2023 Value2019 ValueChange % Change2019 RankRank Change
1LAFC$1 billion$475 million+ $525 million111%3+ 2
2LA Galaxy$925 million$480 million+ $445 million93%2
3Atlanta United$850 million$500 million+ $300 million60%1– 4
4NYCFC$800 million$385 million+ $415 million108%7+ 4
5DC United$700 million$330 million+ $370 million112%9+ 4
6Toronto FC$690 million$395 million+ $295 million75%5– 2
7Austin FC$680 million
8Seattle Sounders$660 million$405 million+ $225 million56%4– 5
9Portland Timbers$650 million$390 million+ $260 million67%6– 4
10Charlotte FC$625 million
11Inter Miami CF$600 million
12Sporting Kansas City$590 million$325 million+ $265 million82%10– 3
13Phildelphia Union$575 million $240 million+ $325 million135%18+ 4
14FC Cincinnati$560 million
15Columbus Crew$550 million$200 million+ $350 million175%23+ 7
16Minnestoa United FC$540 million$300 million+ $240 million80%11– 6
17New Jersey Red Buls$525 million$290 million+ $235 million81%13– 5
18Nashville SC$500 million
19New England Revolution$475 million$245 million+ $230 million94%17– 3
20San Jose Earthquakes$450 million$275 million+ $175 million64%16– 5
21Real Salt Lake$440 million$235 million+ $205 million87%19– 3
22Houston Dynamo$435 million$280 million+ $155 million55%15– 8
23Chicago Fire$425 million$335 million+ $90 million27%8– 16
24Orlando City$420 million$295 million+ $125 million42%12– 13
25Vancouver Whitecaps$410 million$215 million+ $195 million91%21– 5
26FC Dallas$400 million$220 million+ $180 million82%20– 7
27CF Montréal$375 million$210 million+ $165 million79%22– 6
28Colorado Rapids$350 million$190 million+ $160 million84%24– 5

1. Not all clubs gained value

The table above looks like growth was spread around the league, albeit unevenly. But those gains are misleading as all MLS teams got a $175 million bump over 2019 figures. 

If every MLS franchise is worth at least $325 million today (the cost of Charlotte’s expansion fee), then every club should be worth $175 million more than what they were valued at when Forbes last published this list in 2019, when FC Cincinnati joined the league for $150 million. 

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