Germany leads England in football’s recovery

(Getty)

Secrets of the Bundesliga’s success range from cheaper tickets to standing room in stadiums and supporters on club boards.

David Conn looks at the Bundesliga and how it differs from England.

” At their first home Premier League match this season, Chelsea, owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, beat Reading 4-2 in front of 41,733 all-seated supporters whose season tickets at Stamford Bridge, apart from a small family area, cost a minimum £750. Last season’s champions in Germany’s Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund, began this one by beating Werder Bremen 2-1, watched by 80,645 people, including 24,454 fans in a vast standing area, paying €187 (£148) for their season tickets.

That gulf in price and experience illustrates a profound difference in philosophy between hyper-commercialised, “free-market” English football and the more democratic German approach to what we used to call “the people’s game”. In both countries, football has been revitalised since the grim end of the 1980s, when 96 Liverpool supporters were killed in English football’s worst disaster at Hillsborough, and average crowds in the Bundesliga sank to 17,291.”

…..

In Germany, the Bundesliga clubs are still large membership associations, owned and controlled by their supporters, a remarkable adherence to a mutual constitution in this hyper-commercial era. There are exceptions: Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkeusen have historically been the works teams of Volkswagen and the pharmaceutical company Bayer respectively, and Hoffenheim is owned by a software entrepreneur. The others remain associations, although most have formed a subsidiary company to run the football team itself.

A league regulation, maintained by the clubs, holds that these football companies must be majority owned (50% plus one of the shares) by its member association.”

……

Since its surprisingly late formation as a fully professional national league in 1963 (England’s Football League began in 1888), the Bundesliga has incorporated financial regulations designed to encourage clubs to live within their means and not rack up huge debts. Refined over the years, this German system became the basis for Europe’s governing body, Uefa, when it considered introducing its “financial fair play” rules, which require loss making clubs to move towards breaking even.

Read the rest of why English supporters look to the sporting principles maintained by the Germans with envy and admiration.

 

 

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