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Beckham tops Forbes list; Galaxy owner in top 10

April 23, 2010, 3:50 PM

By: Scott French

Beckham
Beckham

Forbes has issued its annual report on soccer, and the Galaxy plays a prominent role, sort of, in its findings.

Midfielder David Beckham, who might miss all of this season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, is the sport's "highest earner," and club owner Philip F. Anschutz is the ninth-richest owner in the game.

Beckham, Forbes reports, has made $138 million since signing with the Galaxy in January 2007, $102 million of that from endorsements. His 2009 earnings are estimated at $40 million, with almost $33 million of it from endorsements.

Beckham's major sponsors include adidas, Giorgio Armani, Motorola and Sharpie.

Whether Beckham can continue to hold down the top spot is open to speculation. He will miss the World Cup, which provides the sort of attention that can make a player rich beyond his dreams, and Simon Fuller's resignation last week as director of Brand Beckham Ltd., which manages the soccer star's financial affairs, has been seen in some quarters as a sign of fading popularity.

No. 2 on the players list is Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo ($30 million), followed his Real Madrid teammate Kaka ($25 million), AC Milan's Ronaldinho ($25 million) and Barcelona's Thierry Henry ($24 million).

Barcelona's Lionel Messi ($20 million), universally acclaimed as the world's top player at 22, is sixth among players.

Four players each from Real Madrid and Barcelona and three from Chelsea are among the top 20.

Anschutz, whose Anschutz Entertainment Group's holdings include the NHL's L.A. Kings, stakes in the NBA's L.A. Lakers and Sacramento Kings, Staples Center and Home Depot Center, and the East Coast Hockey League's franchise in Ontario, is worth $6 billion, according to Forbes. That's less than half the worth of MLS's richest owner, the Seattle Sounders' Paul Allen ($13.5 billion), and far behind the top man on the list, Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal ($28.7 billion), who owns about 20 percent of London's Queens Park Rangers.

Anschutz also owns 50 percent of MLS's Houston Dynamo and 49 percent of Swedish soccer club Hammarby.

Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, is No. 3 on the list of richest owners; Spanish fashion magnate Amancio Ortega ($25 billion), owner of Deportivo La Coruņa, is No. 2.

Also on the owners list: Chelsea's Roman Abramovich (No. 4, $11.2 billion); AC Milan's Silvio Berlusconi (No. 5, $9 billion), the Italian prime minister; and Formula One president/CEO Bernie Ecclestone (No. 10, $4 billion), who is among Queens Park Rangers' owners.

No. 8 on the list is Russian steel/telecom/stocks wizard Alisher Usmanov ($7.2 billion), who is in a battle with Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke for control of London-based Arsenal. Kroenke also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche and 40 percent of the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

The 20 "most valuable" clubs are in Europe's five major leagues, with seven in England, five in Germany, four in Italy, two in Spain and two in France.

Manchester United, which Forbes says is worth $1.835 billion, tops the list, followed by Real Madrid ($1.323 billion), Arsenal ($1.181 billion), Barcelona ($1 billion) and Bayern Munich ($990 million).

Barcelona and Bayern Munich are in the UEFA Champions League semifinals, along with Inter Milan (10th, $413 million) and Lyon (13th, $333 million).

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