Borussia Dortmund’s stadium Signal Iduna Park, formerly known as Westfalenstadion until an insurance company secured naming rights until 2021, is arguably one of the most exhilarating sporting venues. The atmosphere generated is electric even hours before kick-off.
The stadium holds 80,720 people; the numbers alone vividly paint a picture of the atmosphere in itself. Matchdays at Dortmund are simply unique as their one stand, ‘The Südtribüne,’ is by far the biggest standing terrace in Europe with a capacity of 24,454, It’s nicknamed the ‘Yellow Wall’ due to the consistency of the volume of noise generated from the diehard Dortmund supporters who wear and hoist yellow paraphernalia in support of their club.
Various clubs across the continent boast of the players they’ve brought through their academies and turned into talented, top drawer performers that produce the goods game after game. ‘La Masia’ jumps into the majority of our minds and rightly so with Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Fabregas — just to name a few who became the players they are. How many of us would nod in agreement and start to strike off names that have shone on the world stage who’ve learnt their trade in Dortmund? Mario Gotze, Nuri Sahin, Kevin Grosskreutz, Marco Reus and so on. The philosophy of the academy at the club is certainly not one to be laughed at by any means.
When manager Jürgen Klopp is unable to bolster his options through the academy, he looks elsewhere where others who are in a position similar to his don’t. Back in 2009 when a young, German centre-back at Bayern Munich wasn’t quite cutting it at Bayern Munich (or so Munich thought), Klopp saw real talent and made sure he secured the services of Mats Hummels for £3.4 million.
Several months later, Klopp saw a striker plying his trade in Poland who had the capabilities he thought were necessary to don the famous yellow and black of Borussia Dortmund. Robert Lewandowski was signed for just over £3.8 million.
Next stop for Klopp was the J-League where a 5ft 7inch attacking midfielder who played for Cerezo Osaka gained a new admirer. Shinji Kagawa, whose ability not only to create chances for others but score a fair few himself, left the average crowd of just over 15,000 in awe most matches. Klopp came to an agreement with the Osaka based club and signed Kagawa for £308,000.
The players mentioned amounted to a total sum of around £7.5 million. Now, in today’s market, you wouldn’t flinch if £80 million was branded for the trio. On the other end of the spectrum, every club has to cash in on individuals when the price is right so they gain at least some profit or minimize their losses. This is where Dortmund also excel and set a bold example that only others wish they could follow.
In recent years they’ve sold Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid for £8.8 million who came through the ranks at the club. Likewise their most recent departure, Mario Gotze – who joined Bayern Munich for £32.5 million. One of their best signings in the last decade, Shinji Kagawa, was sold to Manchester United for £14 million. The way the club goes about their business quite frankly puts clubs who are forever it seems throwing millions around to shame (i.e. Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain).
Furthermore, the way Borussia Dortmund obliterated the Bundesliga for two of the past three seasons and got to the final of Europe’s most prestigious club competition despite narrowly losing out in the last few minutes in extra time — all while keeping a transfer net spend respectable and intact — is startling. In stark comparison, their rivals Bayern Munich, who just edged above them to lift the trophy at Wembley, won’t gain them many friends, certainly at UEFA, with their comparative spend.
Ending on a high note for ‘The Borussians’ (if ever there was a low one), the club ticket prices for Bundesliga matches for season 2012/13 put the vast majority of Premier League clubs and many others around Europe to a new low. Their most expensive match ticket was priced at £42, which offered the best view at the Signal Iduna Park. A ticket price for as little as £7.70 could have got you into the ground last season.
I’m sure Jürgen Klopp and his army of 80,720 aren’t going to go anywhere anytime soon, so be prepared for another exciting season involving Borussia Dortmund.