Despite the public display of opposition to the television model used by the Premier League by supporters of FC Bayern Munich this past weekend (see below), it now appears that the German Bundesliga is contemplating a scheduling change to compete with England’s top flight.
According to a report published by ESPN FC, the Bundesliga are looking at ways they can maximize the value of the league and thus negotiate a lucrative new contract with television companies. The new comes following last week’s announcement that the brand new domestic television contract for the Premier League would cost in the region of $8billion for 2016-19.
One of the main criticisms of the modern day Sky Sports era of Premier League soccer is the perceived lack of consideration for supporters.
Often match times are moved to fit the televised schedule and you could see for example fans of Southampton, the league’s most southerly team travel to Newcastle, the league’s most northerly team, on a Monday evening for an 8pm GMT kick-off time with visiting supporters simply having no way of getting back home via public transport that evening.
In the Bundesliga, that is not a problem with supporters having been paramount in the league’s thinking for a number of years now. Currently, the Bundesliga has a fixture schedule that clubs and fans have become accustomed to. However, plans to stagger that schedule across weekends as well as potentially shortening the winter break are likely to meet vehement opposition.
The current Bundesliga deal is rumored to be around four times smaller than the deal just signed to broadcast the Premier League — with the shocking statistic that the last placed Premier League team is set to earn a higher amount of domestic television revenue than Bayern Munich, German’s behemoth club.
There’s still a lot of time for the German soccer authorities to change their strategy with the Bundesliga set to negotiate a new television deal next year, which will then come into force for the 2017-18 season.
Despite opposition from several clubs and fan groups already, it appears as though this is a train which is going to be very difficult to stop. The German Bundesliga will cite the examples of not only the Premier League but also La Liga and Serie A who have adopted more staggered fixture schedules to vastly increase the amount of money generated by television revenue.
Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert was quoted as saying, “We need an honest discussion in the league: Are we ready, looking at the new television contract, to take unpopular measures, if necessary, to be able to keep the best players in the world in the Bundesliga?”
This was then echoed by Borussia Monchengladbach Director of Sport Max Eberl. “Traditions may have to be broken,” he said, when asked about German soccer staying competitive financially.
Clubs and supporters in Germany share a very close bond with a number of teams having fan groups and members as part of the board. It is likely the changes will not be as vast as speculated at this moment. However it seems unlikely that there will not be some level of compromise.
You can’t stand in the way of progress especially with Europe’s other elite leagues all bringing in vast sums of money through television revenue. German soccer is currently enjoying a rise in success following the total remodel of the country’s soccer structure at the turn of the millennium. However, it is only a matter of time before they fall behind too far financially and have to lose their best players to the likes of Manchester, London, Madrid and so on.
Unfortunate so this is, it is unlikely to change unless the Bundesliga becomes a wealthier unit as a whole and that is why next year it is very likely there will be sizable change to the Bundesliga fixture schedule.