NEW YORK: Dallas Cowboys have replaced European champions Real Madrid at the top of Forbes’ annual list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world.

It marks the first time a non-football team has held top spot since Forbes began compiling the annual report in 2011. Real had held the position for the past three years but drops to No.2, with an overall value of $3.65bn (€3.29bn).

The Cowboys’ value stands at $4bn – a 25 per cent increase on last year. NFL franchises account for 27 of the 50 teams on the list, which Forbes compiles based on valuations carried out in the past 12 months encompassing enterprise value (equity plus debt) based on current venue deals, unless a new venue is pending.

Forbes found that the Cowboys’ failure to reach a Super Bowl in the past two decades had not impacted upon premium seat revenue, which stands at $125m, and sponsorship revenue ($120m).

Forbes pointed to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as the driving force behind the team’s increase in value. Jones controls the revenue streams from the $1.2bn home of the Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. The team is also the only franchise that is not included in the NFL’s licensed merchandise agreement.

Real’s Liga rival Barcelona sits in third in the 2016 rankings, with a value of $3.5bn, while Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the New York Yankees, which shared second place with the Cowboys last year, drops to fourth with a value of $3.4bn. Only seven MLB franchises make up the top 50, compared to 12 last year.

English Premier League football club Manchester United, which secured top spot in 2011 and 2012, completes the top five with a value of $3.32bn. United’s Premier League rival Arsenal was the biggest mover on the list, rising from No.36 to No.23 with a value of $2.02bn.

The list does not feature a single Formula One motor racing team. Ferrari, the richest of the F1 teams, is valued at $1.35bn but slipped out of the top 50 after ranking 32nd last year.

In total, there are 27 NFL franchises, seven MLB teams, eight NBA basketball outfits and eight European football clubs on the list. Of the eight NBA teams on the list, the New York Knicks rank highest with a value of $3bn in seventh place.

The average worth of clubs on the list is $2.2bn, compared to $1.75bn last year.