Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham smiles back at the crowd after assisting on a goal on the first half during a friendly game against Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente of Mexico's Liga de Ascenso in San Diego, California, March 2, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Manchester United and David Beckham continue to lead the Forbes lists of the most valuable football teams and highest-earning players.
Manchester United has been ranked football's most valuable team by Forbes magazine for the seventh year in a row, while Barcelona's valuation has dropped.
Taking into account income, profitability and debt levels, the American business magazine's valuation of United has risen slightly to $1.9 billion despite only winning the 2010 League Cup since its last Premier League title triumph in 2009.
United, though, is a favorite to wrap up a record 19th English title this season.
Speculation continues to swirl that the club will be sold in the near future, although the owning Glazer family has issued statements twice in the last year to insist they won't sell United, which recorded losses of $171.5 million in the year to June 2010.
United is again followed by Real Madrid and Arsenal, but Barcelona has been dislodged from fourth place in the rankings by Bayern Munich, with the valuation of the Spanish champions slipping below the $1-billion mark to $975 million.
"Barcelona declined because of a combination of high debt, a stronger US dollar and uncertainty surrounding the financial stability of the media company that broadcasts their games," Forbes executive Editor Mike Ozanian said Wednesday.
Barcelona tops the Spanish league, but lost to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, allowing its fiercest rival to win its first trophy since 2008.
Real Madrid has also seen its Forbes value rise from $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion to retain second place.
Arsenal is enduring a title drought stretching back to 2005 but stays third as American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke mounts a takeover bid that values the London club at 731 million pounds ($1.2 billion).
Two other Premier League clubs are in the top 10, with Premier League champion Chelsea rising from ninth to seventh and Liverpool dropping from sixth to ninth as its value collapsed from $822 to $552 in the wake of the enforced sale to Boston Red Sox ownership group in October in a deal worth $476 million.
Liverpool missed out on the lucrative Champions League this season and is unlikely to qualify for next season's competition. With the team sixth in the English top flight it has won 18 times, the Reds also face missing out on the Europa League.
"The top soccer teams that can consistently qualify for the big European tournaments are increasing in value in large part because they reaping the benefits of higher broadcasting and sponsorship revenue," Ozanian said.
In a separate study released Wednesday, Barcelona and Real Madrid were shown to have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams.
The review of average first-team pay in 14 of the world's leading sports leagues showed that was $7.9 million at Barcelona and $7.4 million at Real Madrid during the 2009-10 season.
The third-placed Yankees are paying their players an average of $6.8 million this season. The MLB side last year topped the review which is compiled by The Sporting Intelligence website and is being published by ESPN The Magazine.