Published on February 19, 2013 | by Ivan Badev

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Bundesliga leads the way in financial fair play

A Bundesliga flag is held aloft before kick-off at Borussia Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park Stadium.

Standing areas, as seen in Germany, could help make the Premier League more affordable for fans.
Photo by Peter Price

Pep Guardiola’s decision to take the reins at Bayern Munich sent shockwaves through the football world as one of Europe’s most coveted managers signed a contract that will see him move to the Bundesliga in July.

The German domestic championship boasts a level of quality, competition and atmosphere which places it alongside the Premier League and La Liga.

German sports writer Claus Melchior is one of the many who has admitted his surprise at the move, but believes Guardiola will find himself at a similar club to Barcelona, which he guided to three La Liga and two Champions League titles.

“Bayern, like Barcelona, it’s owned by its members. The structures are similar and Bayern is internationally competitive. All of this is probably part of the attraction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pep [Guardiola] at Old Trafford eventually, should Sir Alex ever decide to retire.

“I was surprised as some people claimed he wanted to make sure to avoid Jose Mourinho, but I doubt that. It’s obvious that nobody at Chelsea thinks long term and I think that might be a problem at Manchester City, as well.”

With the Bundesliga’s acquisition of Guardiola, a manager that boasts a selection of the most prestigious honours in his cv, the top flight German league seems to have cemented its place among Europe’s elite leagues.

 Stars, stars and stars again!

The most important part of any championship is the players. Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Rafael van der Vaart are just some of the big names in the Bundesliga. The constant production of home-grown players is one of the great treasures of German football, who have produced stars like Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The competition in the league is what really makes it attractive for all the football lovers around the world.

Comparing the German and the English leagues, Melchior said: “I believe the top teams of the Bundesliga can compete with the top teams of the Premier League, it’d be interesting to see how the teams placed”.

In the last 12 years, the Bundesliga has had six different winners, disregarding the notion that everything revolves around Bayern, who have won a record 22 league titles, with Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern and the current champions Borussia Dortmund among the previous winners.

The marketing strategy which the governing bodies have chosen is also different. The main idea of the championship is not to make money from the fans, but to make it as affordable and enjoyable as possible.

In the latest chart of the American business magazine Forbes, six clubs from the Bundesliga made their way into the top 20 list of the world’s most valuable football teams. This is three times more than the Spanish La Liga and equal with the English Premier League teams.

Unlike their counterparts from the United Kingdom though, the German marketing directors are not trying to make money from the supporters at any cost.

There, teams must be 50 per cent controlled by the fans, so the ruthless ruling of such oligarchs as Roman Abramovich is neutralised.

“I prefer the German model because it prevents clubs from becoming a toy of rich people who may not know anything about football. Impossible to implement in England, though, I believe. Why would the Glazers or Abramovic relinquish control over something they paid a lot of money for?” said Melchior.

The experience

The stadia also play a big role in attracting crowds. Germany has always been known for its big football arenas. Every football fan wants to be able to go to their favourite team’s games, and in Germany that is easily achieved. With an average ticket price between ten and 12 Euros , it is not a problem for anyone to have fun with their whole family in the stadium at the weekend. “Going to a match is certainly much cheaper in Germany so in that respect the Bundesliga certainly is better,” said Melchior.

A vast majority of the venues across the country were renewed and modernised for the 2006 World Cup with the added feature of safe standing areas. The most impressive is Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, with its Yellow Wall, the sector for the most ardent fans, which boasts a safe standing area for 26,000 spectators out of a total capacity of  80,720.

Mark Quambusch, a German campaign leader for lower ticket prices, gave his advice on how English clubs can follow the model set in Germany: “You should install safe standing, so you are able to lower the prices and increase the atmosphere in the stadiums. That will be a must for English clubs.”

Daniela Wurbs from Football Supporters Europe also expressed her opinion on how the action taken in Germany can have an influence in England: “More than 1,000 Dortmund supporters joined forces with Hamburger SV last year and boycotted their match. They did the same in the derby against Schalke last September, and it wasn’t sold out. Both actions raised a lot of media attention. As long as stadia are sold out, the clubs probably won’t see the necessity to change their policy. But firstly, English supporters need to believe in their power to trigger these changes if they stand together.”

The German fans are capable of creating true entertainment on the stands and support their team in this way. In a recent study about the leagues with the largest attendance, the Bundesliga came out on top with an average of 50,000 people per game. Bearing in mind the stadiums of Schalke 04, Bayern Munich, Stuttgart and Nuremberg are some of the largest, coupled with the low-ticket prices that comes as no surprise.

A further benefit you get is beer and burgers served directly to you inside the stadia, while fans are granted free use of public transport on game day, provided they have valid tickets for the game.

The Premier League and other European championships can take the excellent example from their German fellows and try applying it into their domestic competitions. It might work.

 

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