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25 April 2024

Bundesliga bonus

With Dubai Sports signing a three-year extension to cover the German league, the Bundesliga is sure to keep growing in the region. (MOHAMMED HAKEEM) 

By Gary Meenaghan

The German Bundesliga is primed to return to the pinnacle of European football by taking advantage of other clubs' fragile financial situations.

That is the belief of Jörg Daubitzer, the Chief Operating Officer of DFL Sports Enterprises, a subsidiary of the German football league that was set up to market the competition worldwide.

Daubitzer, who was in the UAE this week to announce a three-year extension to TV channel Dubai Sports' coverage of the league, heralded the firm footing on which football has developed in Germany since the inception of the Bundesliga in 1963.

"The most important thing for the league in Germany is that we have a very valuable and secure economic situation," said Daubitzer. "No club in the Bundesliga is in debt and we can use this situation to attract the best players in the world to Germany."

Not only are all 18 clubs in the German top-flight financially secure, the league generates around €600m (Dh2.8bn) per year in corporate revenue and, now boasts the largest total income from shirt sponsorships with Bayern Munich overtaking Manchester United as having the most valuable deal in Europe.

Compare that to the English Premier League – widely recognised as the best league in Europe – and the contrast is clear.

Several top-flight clubs – eight of which are owned by foreign investors – are suffering from unsustainably high levels of debt. The profits posted by the league fell 15 per cent in 2006 and a further 30 per cent the following year. And the net debt across the 20 top clubs trebled between 2004 and 2007.

"I think it is very difficult to compare the Bundesliga with the English, or the Italian or the Spanish leagues," said Daubitzer.

"But we have the highest average attendances in Europe: 40,000. That is more than the English league, more than the [Spanish] Primera Liga and more than the Italian league, which has no atmosphere and is, sometimes, a little bit boring.

"And our situation will get better in the future. If you look at the economic situation of clubs such as AC Milan and Real Madrid – maybe the English clubs will have problems too?

"Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal: Maybe they will present some opportunities for the Bundesliga because we always have in mind that while players are looking for a good amount of money, they are also football players who want to play in a stadium that is full, that has passionate fans and a fantastic atmosphere."

Daubitzer also cites players such as Franck Ribery and Luca Toni at Bayern Munich and Diego at Werder Bremen as proof that the German league can lure the best in the world.

"You have seen in the past with Bayern that they are capable of buying players like Toni and Ribery," he said. "And look at Diego. He is one of the most attractive players in the world right now and he was convinced to come to the Bundesliga.

"That is how we will grow: by bringing in talented, young players and, afterwards, if teams are coming around and offering lots of money, we can look at how we could invest it to support the Bundesliga more."