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Volume 7 No. 149
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Bayern Munich Considers Partnership With MLS Team, Says European Football Has ‘Obligation’

Bayern Munich is considering teaming up with a Major League Soccer franchise to support football's growth in the U.S., club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "Maybe we have to think about how we can partner with U.S. teams from the MLS, to support them and show them how business is run in Germany and at Bayern," he told SBD Global during a visit to Charlotte, N.C. The defending Bundesliga champions did not identify which MLS sides are on the shortlist for a potential partnership, but the cooperation would be centered on exchanging business and football knowledge. Rummenigge said European football has "an obligation to help" grow the sport in the U.S. "We, in Europe, have to be interested in helping U.S. soccer grow up," he said. "Maybe sometimes we have to do more in their favor. There could be an exchange of talent or coaches. We have to have an interest in U.S. soccer to help them and not just come here to cash in." MLS declined to comment. The German club is currently on a U.S. summer tour, which will conclude on Wednesday with a match against Real Madrid at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The team has already played games in Chicago and Charlotte as part of the Int'l Champions Cup preseason tournament.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
ONLY ONE CLUB: Bayern Munich has no interest in operating “satellite” clubs in different countries around the world. Rummenigge said the club received offers in the ‘90s to takeover clubs in foreign markets, especially in Africa. The club was resistant then and has no intention now, he said, and, as such, will not follow the example of Premier League side Man City, whose owners, City Football Group, operate clubs in Australia, Japan and the U.S. -- MLS franchise New York City FC is a cooperation between CFG and the MLB N.Y. Yankees. When Bayern embarked on its course of growing the brand internationally, it declared the U.S. and China as its two focus markets. The club will open its second int'l office in Shanghai this September and also looks at Chinese clubs for a potential tie-up. “We are thinking about doing a partnership here in the States with a club and in China as well,” said Rummenigge. “Because what they don’t have so much is the know-how. In this area a club like ours is strong.”

A GROWING PRESENCE: Bayern Munich has been able to raise its brand awareness in the U.S. market since opening its first int’l office in N.Y. in ’14. The club has seen the number of official fan clubs increase from eight to more than 100 in a little over two years. It also saw a boost to its merchandise sales and secured a number of U.S. sponsors, including Goodyear, Procter & Gamble and Beats by Dre. "The more reach we have, the more we can earn," Bayern Exec Board member Jörg Wacker, who is in charge of the club's internationalization, said. "The most important thing for us is to get a stronger brand all over the world. The stronger the brand is, the more positive the influence is on the revenue streams."