Barcelona, Real overtake Yankees as top wage payers

LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish soccer giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have overtaken baseball's New York Yankees as the highest paid teams in global sport, according to the Global Sports Salaries Survey 2011.

The survey, to be published on Friday, said the average annual first-team wage at Barcelona was 4.94 million pounds ($8.10 million), or 95,081 pounds ($155,900) a week. All salaries are calculated in pounds sterling.

Real Madrid were second with their players earning an average 4.6 million pounds a year while the average first-team salary at the Yankees was 4.2 million. NBA teams the LA Lakers and Orlando Magic were fourth and fifth respectively followed by Premier League Chelsea.

The report compares average first-team pay in 14 of the world's sports leagues, including the NBA, IPL, MLB, Premier League, NFL, NHL, Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga.

The Premier League remains the richest soccer league in the world with Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal among the top 30 best paid teams in world sport.

"We've known for years that the biggest bucks have been in American basketball and baseball but the rise and rise in wages among the elite of European football continues, closing that gap," Nick Harris, the editor of and author of the report, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations may act as a brake on this inflation in football pay in a few years' time but for now the big guns in Europe are still splashing out."

(Reporting by John Mehaffey; Editing by Ed Osmond)