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Toronto FC mark 256% wage increase over one offseason, lead MLS in average salary

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According to the 2014 edition of the Global Sports Salaries Survey, Toronto FC saw the biggest percentage increase in their average wages between 2013 and 2014 of the 294 teams included as the team's average wage bill shot up up 256% with their offseason additions.

Spending all the money since 2013
Spending all the money since 2013
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Professional sports is clearly a big money business and the amount of money that top athletes can make is staggering these days.  The wages of pro sports is also something that has received more attention in recent years with soccer leading the way with talk of transfer fees, wages, and more recently financial fair play taking up a lot of ink.

So it is no surprise that the latest release of Sportingintelligence's Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS) would garner a fair bit of attention.  The survey for 2014 looked at the wages of 294 teams in 15 leagues in 12 countries across seven different sports.  The sports they include in 2014 are soccer, baseball, basketball, football, cricket, hockey, and Aussie Rules and is based on either the current salary numbers of the most recently available figures.

The teams that stand at the top for having the highest average wage will come as no surprise to anyone.  Manchester City lead the way followed by the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and the Brooklyn Nets.  Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal also make the top 12 in their ranking as soccer continues to lead the way when it comes to big spending on wages.

According to the GSSS the average wage for a player on Manchester City or the New York Yankees in 2014 works out to just over $8 million.  Go anywhere among the top 12 teams and you could expect your wages to be around $6 million as the 12th ranked New York Knicks are still paying an average annual wage of nearly $5.9 million.

This is also the fifth edition of the GSSS which means they have included data for who have been the biggest spenders of the past half decade.  Soccer once again leads the way with 10 teams included in the top 20 as well as four of the top five.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Chelsea are joined by the Yankees in the top five while Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and AC Milan all make the top 10.  According to the GSSS the five year average salary for a Barcelona player works out to be just slightly under $38 million.  They also note that among the top 20 teams the one with the largest increase in average wage since 2010 was Manchester City who have seen their average wage rise by 265% over the five year span.

So what do all these giant numbers have to do with Toronto FC?  Well, the report notes that TFC are actually the leader in one category for 2014.  Of the 294 teams involved in the latest edition of the GSSS not one of them saw a bigger increase in their average wage than TFC did between 2013 and 2014.

TFC's reported average salary is now up to nearly $600,000 which marks an increase of 256 percent.  That massive jump in average wage is due to the fact that the team added Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Gilberto, and Julio Cesar to the roster since the last edition and those players are all commanding a fairly large wage.

We all knew that TFC went out and spent big money this offseason to rebuild the team but when you see it in this context it is staggering to see just how much more they are now spending on wages.  While MLS teams remain very far down the list in terms of average spending as Toronto FC's big jump took them up to just 214th on the overall ranking.  The next highest ranked MLS franchises are the New York Red Bulls (228th), Seattle Sounders (230th), and LA Galaxy (231st) who all have average salaries in the $300,000 range.  After the top four it drops down substantially as the Montreal Impact are the fifth highest ranked team in MLS but are 253rd overall spending just $200,000 in average wages.

The GSSS includes a total of 519 MLS players in their survey for 2014 with the average wage for the league working out to $196,110.  That average wage has MLS ranked 14th out of the 15 leagues included with only the Canadian Football League coming in at a lower mark (the CFL were included in the list as they have the 7th best average attendance for a domestic professional sports league).  MLS continues to trail the Chinese Super League, Scottish Premier League, and the Australian Football League at the bottom of the rankings.

So while TFC are among the biggest climbers and are leading the way for MLS in terms of average wages the league as a whole remains well down the list.  This is of course not a surprise given that MLS does not generate nearly the kind of revenue that the top spending leagues are capable of and until that starts to happen there will not be any MLS teams popping up near the top of this ranking.