Uli Hoeness waiting for free money...

What would you pay for Champions League success? “Imagine if we had an extra 100 million euros available, then I’d tell our fans to get ready to celebrate winning the Champions League,” says Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness in an interview with Wirtschaftswoche. His proposal involves an increase of 2 € of Germany’s TV licensing fees (up from 17.96 a month, about $23.31), in order to fund professional clubs.

Outside of Canada and the United States, TV licenses are a fact of life. They’re a means of financing public broadcasting with only limited additional funds. In Germany that fee totals approximately $280 a year. With 37 million TV households, Hoeness’s proposal works out to about an extra $1.17 billion a year. That would put them within striking distance of England’s and Italy’s income from television broadcasting rights. Perhaps most exciting for fans, all the matches would be available on public channels (like ARD or ZDF). As things currently stand, only a single weekly highlights program is available.

What this amounts to, as the post’s title suggests, is the nationalization of the professional football in Germany. In one sense, this proposal is in keeping with other well-known, distinctly ‘German’ aspects of football organization: working-class fans haven’t been priced out of attending matches and individual investors aren’t permitted to own a majority stake in clubs. Both work to foster a sense of community, the first by maintaining a traditionally vocal constituency and the latter by maintaing the (sometimes illusory) power of participation amongst fans.

Things are unlikely to change in the near future, at least. According to ARD spokesman Harald Dietz, “This isn’t under consideration for ARD. The TV licensing fee for the next four years is set, and besides we can’t influence the rate. Fundamentally the TV licensing fee is not earmarked, but rather set aside for our general use.”