Arguably the most significant development is that Juventus has jumped from ninth to third in the list.
Thanks to the signing of Ronaldo and other high-profile players, the Italian giant moved from No. 32 in 2017/18 to 10th last year before making the jump to the podium.
“It is not entirely a coincidence that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the world’s top three wage payers (by average salary) are also among the top five most popular teams in any sport, anywhere, measured by their popularity across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter combined,” the GSSS report said.
A key factor in Barcelona retaining top spot was Messi’s contract in 2018 which pays him more than $65 million a season, including guaranteed image rights fees and included a €700 million ($775 million) release clause.
The NBA remains the top paying league as a whole in world sport, continued GSSS, with average basic salaries of almost £6.7 million ($8.7 million) per player this season. The Premier League remains the highest paying football league in the world, at nearly £3.2 million ($4.2 million) per player this season.
The NFL has the highest average attendance — 67,100 — while MLB, where teams play 162 games, has the highest total attendance of 68,494,752 tickets sold.
The Premier League is on course to break the English top division attendance record that was set in the 1948/49 season, something the report’s editor Nick Harris calls “remarkable.”
“In an age of football saturation, weariness at cynical owners, asset-squeezing, rampant agents’ greed and widely perceived sky-high ticket prices, record all-time crowds would be remarkable,” he said.