Forbes has just come out with its another one of its annual and invaluable sports franchise valuations, this one on the megabuck world of big-time European football, er, soccer, as we call it, and as usual there's lots of good reading.
These things are invariably bollocked by team owners, but as estimates go they're pretty good.
What's notable here? Off a quick first glance, Arsenal's value has increased the most among top clubs over the past year, at 37 per cent (after a 27 per cent increase in '05) and they are now rated by Forbes analysts at No. 4 overall, behind the unchanged top 3 of Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan. With the new Emirates Stadium (cap. 60,000) opening next season to replace the 38,500-seat Highbury and a bevy of emerging stars, the Gunners are heading into a golden era:
Arsenal rose the most in value during the past year because prior to the 2006-07 season the team will move into a $700 million stadium that could increase its annual revenue by as much as $60 million. More than $1.5 billion in stadium improvement subsidies by the German government to prepare for hosting the 2006 World Cup markedly improved values for Bayern Munich, Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen.
Where does that leave Thierry Henry, who has fallen down to 12th on the top 20 highest paid players? No wonder this guy's leaving his options open.