If sports are a business, than Toronto FC are a Cinderella story. A club that continuously fails to put a good product on the field and has yet to make the MLS postseason has, against all odds, been a successful financial venture.
This is perhaps not a major surprise considering the track record of their owners Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. The group is famous for making the Toronto Maple Leafs the first National Hockey League franchise to be valued at $1 Billion. This despite the fact that the Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.
However, it is also a good indicator of the health of the soccer scene in the Toronto region, even if the team has not been overly inspiring as of late. In a town where multiple clubs are constantly competing for fan support Toronto FC have managed to keep up.
They may never be near the top of the league standings, but according to a list released by business publication Forbes today Toronto FC are the fifth most valuable team in Major League Soccer. Over the past two years their value has risen $54 Million (USD), as they are valued at $175 Million, up from $121 Million on the 2013 Forbes list.
In terms of profitable Major League Soccer clubs, Toronto FC trail only the Seattle Sounders (valued at $250 million USD), LA Galaxy ($240), Houston Dynamo ($200) and the Portland Timbers ($185). That makes them the most valuable Eastern Conference MLS team, ahead of Sporting Kansas City ($165) and Chicago Fire ($160).
They are also the most valuable team in Canada, ahead of the Montreal Impact ($128) and Vancouver Whitecaps ($120) who sit 14th and 15th respectively in the league. While both have increased significantly in value since 2012, they both dropped in terms of their rank with respect to the league.
Despite their value, however, Toronto FC are one of the Major League Soccer clubs who are losing money. Forbes has them losing $7 Million in operational income, second only to the New York Red Bulls, who lost $9 Million over the 2014 season.
According to the 2012 numbers Toronto FC had an operational income of $4.5 million. In 2012 there were eight teams with negative operational income. This year there are ten, which isn't necessarily a bad sign but just shows that MLS teams are spending more money.
The debt for Toronto is not surprising, considering the significant amount of investment the club has made in both players and club infrastructure. That operational income number is likely to only get worse with the recent stadium expansion.
Overall the numbers are a good indication that the league is moving in the right direction. With a value of $175 million USD Toronto FC would have been the most valuable Major League Soccer team in 2013.
Now every MLS franchise is worth at least $100 million, which is up significantly from 2013 when there were 11 franchises worth less than that amount. Chivas USA, in fact, was only worth $64 million before folding.
Below is a list of Forbes valuations for the 18 Major League Soccer franchises who competed before this season, all the estimates and numbers reported are based on the 2014 Major League Soccer season.
|Rank||Team||Estimated Value ($M)||2014 Revenue ($M)||2014 Operating Income ($M)|
|6||Sporting Kansas City||165||29||4|
|8||New England Revolution||158||25||7|
|10||San Jose Earthquakes||146||13||-1|
|12||New York Red Bulls||144||22||-9|
|17||Real Salt Lake||108||17||1|