Over recent years, German football has been held up by the British media for everything that the Premier League is not.
- It cares about its fans, from ticket prices to standing
- Clubs own 50% of all clubs
- Its top sides succeed in Europe
- The league provides top International players for the German national team
On paper, the Bundesliga is nearly perfect. That is until you actually dig down below the surface
- It has become uncompetitive
- It is riddled with corruption
For a long time, people mocked La Liga with being ‘The Sunny SPL’. As 2 sides dominated the league – Barcelona & Real Madrid – in the same way the Rangers & Celtic dominate Scotland.
It is rather ironic that as Rangers dropped out of the SPL, leaving just one team to dominate, over in Germany, a similar situation has risen, with Bayern Munich now dominating to such an extent that it would not be a surprise if they go on to win 10 league titles in a row. Which is currently Celtic’s target.
What should we nickname the Bundesliga? ‘The German SPL’ does not quiet have the ring to it as The Sunny SPL.
In the last three years, Bayern have won the league by 25, 19 & 10 points respectively. During that time, they have only lost 3 league games when the title was still to play for. Losing an additional 5 after the title was won.
This season, the lead by 5 points, with 10 wins and a draw from their opening 11 games. Scoring 33, conceding just 4.
They have also begun picking off the best players from their opponents.
In recent years they have signed Claudio Pizarro, Tom Starke, Mario Mandzukic & Dante from fellow Bundesliga clubs. On top of this, they snatched Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze from Dortmund, their nearest competitors.
Whilst this happens in all leagues, in none of the 4 major leagues in Europe (Spain, England, Italy & Germany) has there been one way traffic to a single club.
You rarely get players moving from Real to Barca, or Atletico to Real. Or Man City to Man Utd or United to Liverpool. Regional rivalries limits players ending up at a single club.
Bayern Munich do not really have any regional rival. This creates a situation where for most kids growing up in Germany, they do not have a hatred for Munich (in the same way a Scouser would have United), and it would actually be considered the pinnacle of their career to join them.
Add in the money factor, that Munich are the only side in Germany with real cash, they can blow any other German side out of the water when it comes to a contract offer.
In 2014, Bayern Munich’s wage bill was €215 million. Dortmund was nearly half that at €108 million.
To put that into relative terms, imagine the Premier League, where Manchester City are doing what they do now, and their nearest competitors were Tottenham.
At least in the Premier League, you have 4 or 5 teams capable of sweeping up the best players. The same in Italy. A couple less in Spain.
There is a chance that Bayern Munich are going to become to detached from the rest. And this will make the Bundesliga weaker as a whole.
There are two ways other Bundesliga sides have a chance of competing with Bayern Munich:
- Increasing their own revenue enabling them to compete for the better players. The easiest way for this will be to raise ticket prices.
- Allow more clubs to be owned by a single person (or company), who can then pump millions (or billions) into the club creating a German Man City / Chelsea / PSG. This would then move away from the fan owned model
Both of these solutions would be at the detriment to the fans.
In my opinion, the reason the Bundesliga appears to be better for the fans is because it is behind the Premier League.
To break up Manchester United’s dominance, ticket prices rocketed (Arsenal) and we saw Sugar Daddies introduced. Whilst these were both at the detriment of fans, it made the league a lot more competitive.
It might not happen quickly, but sooner rather than later, Bundesliga clubs and owners will become fed up of the dominance by Bayern Munich, and seek to increase their own competiveness.
German fans, enjoy the Bundesliga whilst you can. It will change soon.
And this commentary does not even take into account the state funded stadiums…
In recent years, the German has been riddled with corruption (and this is just what I remember):
- The 2005 match fixing scandal involving referees
- Bayern Munich (ex) President Uli Hoeness being jailed for tax evasion
- Bayern Munich (ex) President Franz Beckenbauer being banned from football activities for allegedly refusing to cooperate with an inquiry into corruption dealing with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar
- Reports continually being leaked that Germany secured the 2006 through a series of cash deals
And even as recent as a couple of days ago, tax authorities launched raids on the German football federation (DFB) and private residences, following the disclosure that the DFB made a secret payment of 6.7million euro (£4.6million) to FIFA in 2005.
It seems the Bundesliga is riddled with corruption.
As we saw with Italy, once the ball starts to unravel, it does not stop. How far with the allegations of corruption and financial irregularities go?
It is all well and good President’s talking about how great they are that they are keeping ticket prices low, when on the other hand, they are doing everything they can to cheat the taxman out of money.
The Bundesliga is being held up as a good example to the rest of football, and mainly the Premier League. But this will not last. Clubs will start changing attitudes as success becomes more unlikely, and the current corruption scandal involving FIFA and the DFB could unveil more skeletons in the closet.
Once the commercial side of the game gets a bigger hold of German football, with clubs realising they must generate more money to compete with Bayern Munich, German football will change. Forever.