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SBD Global/May 24, 2013/International Football

German Football Clubs Setting Example On, Off Pitch Ahead Of Champions Final

Dortmund's Mats Hummels attends a press conference during the UEFA Champions League Finalist Media Day last week.
Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund "are the envy of football fans across Europe for the way the German clubs run their business as well as their success on the field," according to Grohmann & Weir of REUTERS. Bayern and Dortmund are the top two teams in the Bundesliga, where clubs "boast the largest crowds in Europe, keep ticket prices low, are largely profitable and have produced a crop of talented young players." Indeed, the German clubs appear to be the ideal model for a new more sustainable financial approach that UEFA "is trying to enforce." Germany is not the richest football league, but is "one of the most stable and sustainable" (REUTERS, 5/23).

NEAR PERFECT MODEL: In London, Rory Smith reported Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert said that the two clubs are "perfect standard bearers for German football’s 'DNA.'" It is "a structure that is easy to envy." Both are "majority-owned by their fans." Both "turn a profit, despite allowing ticket prices to drop as low" as €13 ($17). Seifert's praise for the Premier League is qualified -- “admiration is a strong word” -- and his belief in the German model "is absolute too." That is "not hard to explain." It "stands out because all of its individual strands -- the fan ownership, the youth, the cheap tickets -- tie together so neatly." It is "a dirty word in England at the moment, but Germany’s approach is, in the best possible sense, holistic." The league "is profitable, and wages under control, because of the emphasis on youth." That means tickets "can remain cheap, and safe standing can remain, so there is no appetite to change the 50+1 shares rule that means most clubs are owned by their fans." It "is a perfect circle." Still, though, Seifert "is not satisfied." Seifert: "The Bundesliga is not a perfect model." The problems? A rise of "far-right extremism and occasional violence among some fans." The "unsightly, and to English eyes, disturbing fences separating supporters from the pitch at some grounds" (LONDON TIMES, 5/23).
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