Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Bundesliga can show Premier League the way

Bayern Munich owned by membersI recently read that Bundesliga clubs have agreed to keep clubs in the hands of members. The only clubs in the Bundesliga that aren’t currently owned by their club members are Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, who were founded as work sides.

50 plus 1

Bundesliga clubs have to be owned 50% plus 1 by their members. That means the club is always controlled fans, rather than outside influences with other interests at heart, such as money. Outside investors can’t take advantage of the clubs, as they have in the Premier League.

The system has worked really well for the league. It has proved such a success because the club membership system has kept the tickets prices down and allowed younger fans to access big clubs.

The Bundesliga has the best average attendance records in Europe and that’s because German clubs are more accessible than most in top European leagues. Most German clubs are the hub of the local community and have strong links with the people of the areas that the clubs are in. This is down to the membership system. The clubs still value the fans because some of them are actually in charge of the clubs.

Objections

There have been objections to this system in recent times. This is due to the fact that certain clubs believe that they could progress further if they had private investment. However there are also those people that say letting private investors into Bundesliga clubs will take that local feel away from the clubs.

I believe they are right. If it isn’t broken then you don’t need to fix it. The likes of Bayern Munich haven’t done badly under this system and the Bundesliga is a thriving league. The strength of the Bundesliga is financial stability that the membership system has sustained for so long.

Lessons to be learnt

Premier League clubs could learn a lot from the Bundesliga. Some Premier League clubs have managed to get them into huge financial trouble through overspending on players they simply couldn’t afford. Outside investors have flooded into English football and brought clubs to their knees financially. These investors often only have their own interests at heart and don’t think how their actions affect the clubs fans.

Unfortunately for English football it’s too late for some clubs to implement a similar system. At the likes of Liverpool and Newcastle there has been talk of fans consortium’s taking control of the club. However the high finances involved in these clubs put them out of the reach of fans groups. The Premier League is now a huge monopoly and is probably beyond the membership system.

Lower leagues

It’s worked in the lower leagues with the likes of AFC Wimbledon, AFC Telford and Exeter City. These clubs are trying to manage THEIR clubs in the right way. However their finances are small compared to the vast amounts of money in the Premier League clubs and handling Premier League clubs in the same manner is a whole different ball game.

The English top flight clubs have got so lost in their financial interests that they have forgotten what really matters to a football club, its fans. If it wasn’t for the fans there would be no football clubs. I think the big money men forget this and carry on regardless.

They put ticket prices up, raise the price of replica shirts and generally rip off the average fan. Football and the Premier League in particular, has become more of a business than a pastime and that really is sad to see. I might be a traditionalist or just gloriously naive but I always thought that football was there for fans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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