With the conclusion to the domestic season all but over in Germany, Alan Clark takes a look back at this season’s Bundesliga and extracts what it is, exactly, that defines it so well compared to its English Premier league counterpart.
In the last ten seasons the ‘Salad Bowl’ has been won by Bayern Munich five times, Borussia Dortmund twice, with Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg winning it once. The league has a highly competitive nature and this is one of the reasons the crowds are so high. Affordable ticket pricing, safe standing and sale of alcohol at matches all contribute to a very appealing experience of football on a Saturday.
The average Bundesliga crowd this season reached 45,116, setting a new record. It outstripped by far the previous best-mark of 42,653, accumulated last campaign. A rise in the average attendance by nearly 3,000 is an indicator of the growth of the league. The total overall attendance of 13.8 million for the 306 games represents a sensational new all-time high for the Bundesliga.
Champions Borussia Dortmund unsurprisingly led the way, becoming the first club ever to rack up an average attendance of more than 80,000. BVB’s outstanding support contributed to a season average of 80,521 which upstaged their own record of 79,647, which was the previous Bundesliga’s record as well.
Runners-up Bayern Munich managed to achieve a sell-out in all 34 league games they participated in, home and away. Germany’s most successful club side recorded an average of 69,000 for the home fixtures at the Allianz Arena, the third year in a row they have reached that mark.
Even the league’s worst sides this season managed to attract huge crowds to their stadium. An average of 42,434 turned up to watch bottom-side 1. FC Kaiserslautern, while second-bottom 1. FC Koln drew in 47,647 punters throughout the campaign. Hertha Berlin, currently in a play-off to stay in the league with 2.Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf, drew in the fifth-biggest crowd of the league with 54,259 coming through the turnstiles at the Olympiastadion.
Many give the English Premier League the billing of “the greatest league in the world”, but there are reasons to believe that the German top division is more attractive. Compared to the Bundesliga’s regular change at the top of the league, only four English clubs have won the title in the last ten years. Manchester United have won it five times, Chelsea three, Arsenal once, and now Manchester City.
The attendance game is also won by the Bundesliga, with season 2010/11 bringing in an average of 35,283 to English grounds, compared to 42,653 in Germany. Whilst the average in England for the season is down on last season, standing at 34,632. A reason for the lower averages of course can be attributed to the country’s population, Germany dwarfing England with 81 million compared to 52 million.
However, sensible ticketing prices in Germany could be a bigger factor in the comparison. Thanks to research conducted by Bundesliga Football’s Allan Edgar, with season ticket prices being based on buying one adult ticket (no concessions) in the cheapest available area, the most you will pay in these areas is £176 at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.
The two cheapest season tickets in the Bundesliga are at Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin, both coming in at £94.49. For Bayern fans in season 2011/12, that works out at £1.94 for every home goal scored and £2.38 for every home point won.
Compare that to England, and it is quite staggering. The cheapest season ticket in the Premier League this season was at Blackburn Rovers (£225), but they of course been relegated. So excluding relegated teams and teams still at risk of going down, the cheapest in the Premier League will cost you £295 at Wigan Athletic.
The lowest advertised price at Arsenal is a mind-boggling £951, making them the most expensive out of the cheapest seating areas. Analysing these prices shows just how much supporters are being fleeced in England, but equally it shows just how little the clubs care about their supporters.
The clubs should of course have a good mind to care about the average punter – because they are a huge source of income for the business. Looking at all clubs in the Bundesliga and their 2011/12 revenue, 21% of that income is generated through matchday takings. €411million was made from a total out of €1.94billion. Only the income from television and advertising, both at just under 27%, were larger than money made from supporters.
And with the television revenue set to increase by several hundred million euros with a new Sky Deutschland deal after next season, the financial clout of Germany’s clubs will get larger and they will soon be able to compete for the very best talent in the transfer market. Revenues of the top five leagues (excluding transfers) pitted the Bundesliga second, with €1.74 billion made in 10/11.
The league is bulging with talent which makes the footballing product extremely attractive. Not only that, it has a fan culture that many around Europe envy, with fans who continue to pour in through the turnstiles to support their side. With added financial benefit from TV coming soon, the future looks very bright for the German Bundesliga.