Why the Bundesliga has wooed Pep Guardiola?


German championship is second best competition by income, stadia are packed to the rafters and not a single side has ever entered insolvency proceedings

Imagen de un partido entre el Bayern y el Borussia Dortmund en el Allianz Arena / Archivo

21 de enero de 2013 (19:00 CET)

The Bundesliga is according to the UEFA, the national championship in Europe with the best functioning. It is the football league that lures the highest number of spectators to its stadia, the second best –trailing behind the Premier League- in generation of income and above all, the most financially streamlined competition. The television rights cake is doled out in a much more fair way than the Spanish Liga. The signing of Pep Guardiola –FC Barcelona's ex-coach- is an epitome of the current prosperity the German football is going through, and especially Bayern Munich's booming, the fifth club in Europe concerning financial firepower, immediately behind Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea. 

The hardship many Spanish football sides are crossing is a stark contrast with the Bundesliga's bonanza. Not a single German club has ever entered insolvency proceedings –and that is over 50 years-, and turnover has been growing over the four last seasons, to reach nearly 2,000 million euros this year. Similarly, the law in Germany states that 51 percent of each club stake has to be owned by its own members, as a regulatory shield against sheik or foreign tycoon-led takeover bids, although the legal corpus allows Volkswagen and Bayer to continue to sponsor Wolfsburg and Leverkusen, respectively.

Tickets 20 euros cheaper than Spain's

In Germany, the strongest economy in the whole continent, attending a football match is cheaper than do it in Spain. A UEFA-sponsored research recently concluded that the average ticket costs there less than 30 euros, 20 fewer than the most affordable admissions in the Spanish Liga, and stadia keep recording attendances higher than any other country. Last season's average attendance in the Bundesliga reached 44,293 spectators –in the Liga, crowds during the first 19 dates of the 2012-12 tournament reached a mere 24,192, according to the LFP-. Stadia had on average 90 percent of their tickets sold out.

The Bundesliga has over the last years witnessed a spectacular growth in television rights-linked income, overtaking the Spanish and Italian leagues. Currently, turnover stemming from broadcasting rights attains 520 million per season, but a new deal has been struck whereby the competition is to receive 628 million euros a year from the 1st of July 2013 to the 30th of June 2017. In other words, the offer represents 2,500 million in four years.

Fairer distribution

In the Central Europe country broadcasting rights are handed out proportionately depending on several aspects. Half of the income is distributed evenly, a further 25 percent is payed according to each side final position in the last four seasons' overall standings, while the remaining 25 percent is allotted responding to the most viewed matches. The rift between richest and poorest sides is not as wide as it would be in Spain.

In any case, Bayern Munich is still the club amassing the largest part, having earned up to 28 million euros last season, whereas the club receiving the least, Koln, was awarded 14 million euros, half as much. Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, equally titanic teams in the Bundesliga, were allotted 25 million euros each, scarcely 10 percent less than the Bavarian side. On the other hand, FC Barcelona and Real in Spain were granted by media outlets up to 140 million euros, five times as much as Bayern, while Rayo Vallecano was payed nothing more than ten million. Atlético de Madrid, third best-payed club in the Liga, pocketed only 47 million.

18-team tournament

Uli Hoeness, president of Bayern Munich, spoke out last year about the current Spanish football approach, by which the country's sides have contracted lumpy debts with the Treasury and the Social Security: ‘Germans are bailing out these countries so that they can leave behind their misery while their football clubs are exempt from paying to the public purse'. As for now, Hoeness has just signed La Liga's most prestigious manager, Pep Guardiola, lured by the tradition and financial soundness of German football, whose tournament is played by 18 teams (whereas 20 sides play in England, Spain and Italy). Three of its flag-bearers (Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke) have qualified for the Champions League quarter finals doing it on top of their respective groups.

‘The Bundesliga, due to the way by which broadcasting rights are doled out and its financial stability, should be our role model', stresses José María Gay de Liébana, economist and an authority in football finance.

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