Forbes estimate Toronto FC as MLS' 5th most valuable franchise

Show me the money! - Harry How

Despite seven years of poor performances on the field Toronto FC remain among the elite of MLS when it comes to bringing in the dollars based on the most recent estimations from Forbes for the 2012 year.

Forbes released their estimations as to the value of each of the 19 MLS clubs for the 2012 calendar year.  According to their numbers Toronto FC were the fifth most valuable franchise in the league that year and actually managed to generate a positive operating income.

It is interesting to see that Toronto remains near the top of the list despite the teams on field struggles over the past 7 seasons.  The club's value is estimated at $121 million which trails only the Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers, L.A. Galaxy, and the Seattle Sounders who lead the way at $175 million.

Forbes have TFC's revenue for 2012 at 30.9 million which is more than double that of some of the league's less successful franchises but again some way back of the leaders as Seattle at $48 million in revenue for the year.  That revenue allowed Toronto FC to turn a positive operating income of $4.5 million which was the 6th best number across the league as only 8 teams wound up with a negative operating income in 2012 according to Forbes.

The numbers are not going to be completely accurate as MLS is a private entity and that means they do not have to make this information public.  That means Forbes have formed their estimations based on the information that is available to them to come up with the educated guesses that they have provided.

It should not be a surprise to see that Toronto FC remains near the top of the league in both value and revenue despite the team's inability to reach the playoffs.  The fan support has still remained fairly solid and even though revenue will likely have been lower in 2013 than it was in 2012 it is not hard to imagine that the club's operating income remained positive.

If MLSE is good at one thing it would be making money off of their assets.  They have invested a substantial amount of money into the club and the new training facility but they have also found ways to make those investments pay off.  Attendance was down again in 2013 though as were the costs of season tickets so their ability to make money off of TFC may have taken a bit of a hit.

At some point you would imagine that the lack of success would start to hurt the club's value and ability to generate revenue.  We may be getting closer to that point but as the 2012 numbers indicate there is still some ways to go before the club ranks financially at the same level as the other teams in the league who have struggled.

While TFC continue to have a high value despite poor results the same cannot be said for a number of other MLS franchises.  It is no surprise to see Chivas USA, DC United, and the Columbus Crew all at the bottom of these rankings as they have not exactly been thriving clubs in recent years.

It is unlikely that TFC will ever wind up at that end of the rankings but one would imagine that if they continue to struggle on the field they will slip closer to the middle of the pack and wind up falling further behind the league's most valuable franchises.

The fact that both of AEG's holdings in the league, LA and Houston, are ranked in the top 5 for value speaks volumes of what Tim Leiweke has been able to do in MLS.  His new bosses at MLSE will certainly be expecting him to do the same with TFC but the big difference between his current club and his old ones is the success on the field.  The Galaxy and Dynamo are both regulars in the MLS Cup and that has played a major role in their high values.

If Toronto were to start winning and become a contender it would not be hard to imagine that their value would rise even higher and rival that of the top teams in the league.  The fan base is there but without the results the value will likely only continue to decline.

Toronto remains among the league's elite for value but how long will that last if the team keeps struggling? Just how high might that value climb if the team were to actually be a contender in 2014?

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