Last week, the German Football League announced that the revenue of the top-tier and second division of the Bundesliga during the past season (2016-2017) reached € 4.01 billion. The Bundesliga, in that respect, is the second in the world (€ 3.375 billion). It is the 13th record in a row. Further records seem to be safe – thanks to new contracts for the marketing of national media that came into force at the start of the current season and guarantee revenue of €1.16 billion per season.
Time to celebrate – peace, joy and happiness?
However, life is no walk in the park: there are challenges facing German professional football
No doubt: The German Football League bears a huge responsibility. In the 2016-2017 season the jobs of 54,275 people were either directly or indirectly connected to the 36 clubs. Even more than 20,000 employees were directly linked to the German top two divisions. With a total of €1.17 billion the number of taxes and duties paid to financial authorities and social security institutions reached a new high. Professional football has a significant position in German society, not only in economic but also in social terms. One should bear this in mind when talking about the challenges.
The Bundesliga must not miss the boat in the international club tournaments. Currently, only the German record-holder Bayern FC seems able to keep pace with international top-level teams. The Bundesliga is at risk of losing international starting places and hence losing money that is important for guaranteeing the international competitiveness of the top-tier Bundesliga. Within the league, Bayern FC lonely turns its circles. Excitement is different.
One of the most important challenges, however, is to adjust the relationship between supporters on the one hand and the German Football League and DFB on the other hand. Due to the predominant and ongoing commercialization, the gap between the needs of the supporters and the clubs is rapidly getting greater. The German Football League and DFB try to access new markets and perfect old markets.
Fans, so far, feel isolated and abandoned. There is a union of the so called ‘ultras’ that starts week by week protests in the stadiums. Would it be conceivable that supporters turned their backs on professional football? German Football League and DFB are eager to avoid the clash. Either way, it is the outcome of the discussion about the 50+1 rule that will be of utmost importance for German professional football.
We will see what the future might hold!
Alexander Wild may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.